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Firefox was created in 2002 under the code name "Phoenix" by members of the Mozilla community who desired a standalone browser rather than the Mozilla Application Suite bundle. During its beta phase, it proved to be popular with its testers and was praised for its speed, security, and add-ons compared to Microsoft's then-dominant Internet Explorer 6. It was released on November 9, 2004, and challenged Internet Explorer's dominance with 60 million downloads within nine months. It is the spiritual successor of Netscape Navigator, as the Mozilla community was created by Netscape in 1998, before their acquisition by AOL.
Features of the desktop edition include tabbed browsing, full-screen mode, spell checking, incremental search, smart bookmarks, bookmarking and downloading through drag and drop, a download manager, user profile management, private browsing, bookmark tags, bookmark exporting, offline mode, a screenshot tool, web development tools, a "page info" feature which shows a list of page metadata and multimedia items, a sophisticated configuration menu at about:config for power users, and more location-aware browsing (also known as "geolocation") based on a Google service. Firefox has an integrated search system which uses Google by default in most markets but an update for American users in 2021 made it start including paid promotions by default in its suggestions. DNS over HTTPS is another feature whose default behaviour is determined geographically.
Firefox downloads and enables the Adobe Primetime and Google Widevine CDMs by default to give users a smooth experience on sites that require DRM. Each CDM runs in a separate container called a sandbox and you will be notified when a CDM is in use. You can also disable each CDM and opt-out of future updates
Beginning with Firefox 48, all extensions must be signed by Mozilla to be used in release and beta versions of Firefox. Firefox 43 blocked unsigned extensions but allowed enforcement of extension signing to be disabled. All extensions must be submitted to Mozilla Add-ons and be subject to code analysis in order to be signed, although extensions do not have to be listed on the service to be signed. On May 2, 2019, Mozilla announced that it would be strengthening the signature enforcement with methods that included the retroactive disabling of old extensions now deemed to be insecure. A Firefox update on May 3 led to bug reports about all extensions being disabled. This was found to be the result of an overlooked certificate and not the policy change set to go into effect on June 10.
Traditionally, installing the Windows version of Firefox entails visiting the Firefox website and downloading an installer package, depending on the desired localization and system architecture. In November 2021, Mozilla made Firefox available on Microsoft Store. The Store-distributed package does not interfere with the traditional installation.
Shortly afterwards, the Mozilla Foundation invited Garrity to head up the new visual identity team. The release of Firefox 0.8 in February 2004 saw the introduction of the new branding efforts. Included were new icon designs by silverorange, a group of web developers with a long-standing relationship with Mozilla. The final renderings are by Jon Hicks, who had worked on Camino. The logo was later revised and updated, fixing several flaws found when it was enlarged. The animal shown in the logo is a stylized fox, although "firefox" is usually a common name for the red panda. The panda, according to Hicks, "didn't really conjure up the right imagery" and was not widely known.
Firefox was adopted rapidly, with 100 million downloads in its first year of availability. This was followed by a series of aggressive marketing campaigns starting in 2004 with a series of events Blake Ross and Asa Dotzler called "marketing weeks".
Firefox continued to heavily market itself by releasing a marketing portal dubbed "Spread Firefox" (SFX) on September 12, 2004, It debuted along with the Firefox Preview Release, creating a centralized space for the discussion of various marketing techniques. The release of their manifesto stated that "the Mozilla project is a global community of people who believe that openness, innovation and opportunity are key to the continued health of the Internet." A two-page ad in the edition of December 16 of The New York Times, placed by Mozilla Foundation in coordination with Spread Firefox, featured the names of the thousands of people worldwide who contributed to the Mozilla Foundation's fundraising campaign to support the launch of the Firefox 1.0 web browser. SFX portal enhanced the "Get Firefox" button program, giving users "referrer points" as an incentive. The site lists the top 250 referrers. From time to time, the SFX team or SFX members launch marketing events organized at the Spread Firefox website. As a part of the Spread Firefox campaign, there was an attempt to break the world download record with the release of Firefox 3. This resulted in an official certified Guinness world record, with over eight million downloads. In February 2011, Mozilla announced that it would be retiring Spread Firefox (SFX). Three months later, in May 2011, Mozilla officially closed Spread Firefox. Mozilla wrote that "there are currently plans to create a new iteration of this website [Spread Firefox] at a later date."
The Firefox community has also engaged in the promotion of their web browser. In 2006, some of Firefox's contributors from Oregon State University made a crop circle of the Firefox logo in an oat field near Amity, Oregon, near the intersection of Lafayette Highway and Walnut Hill Road. After Firefox reached 500 million downloads on February 21, 2008, the Firefox community celebrated by visiting Freerice to earn 500 million grains of rice.
Downloads have continued at an increasing rate since Firefox 1.0 was released on November 9, 2004, and as of 31 July 2009[update] Firefox had already been downloaded over one billion times. This number does not include downloads using software updates or those from third-party websites. They do not represent a user count, as one download may be installed on many machines, one person may download the software multiple times, or the software may be obtained from a third-party.
Initially running on 32-bit systems, Mozilla Firefox updated to a 64-bit MSI package for Windows in 2016. The main advantages include improved download protection, process separation, and specific customizations on the web browser. While you can use the interface bar like a search engine, Google appears as the default.
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