Firefox (nee Firebird) 0.8 Is Here!

The latest and greatest version of’s fast-and-light Web browser is here, and with it comes a new name — say goodbye to Firebird and say hello to Mozilla Firefox 0.8.

I’ve been running nightly builds of 0.8 for a few weeks now, and this is a significant upgrade over 0.7. Many of the improvements fall into the realm of “fit and finish” — the little things that make you feel like you’re using a real, complete piece of software and not a preview release. Windows users, for example, now get a Windows installer when they download Firefox, instead of a ZIP file, making installation double-click easy and making it feel more like a “real” application to less technical people. Other improvements include a much, much better download manager and bookmark manager, improvements to the browser’s MIME-type handling (so files sent from incorrectly configured servers no longer show up as garbage in the browser window), and a lot of bug fixes.

So, why the new name? Because, it turns out, there’s already another open-source project named Firebird, and even though they have nothing to do with Web browsing (the other Firebird is a database, of all things), they were pretty obnoxious about insisting that people would confuse Firebird-the-browser with Firebird-the-database. So the Mozilla folks had to come up with another name that wasn’t already in use. Given that, I think Firefox is a pretty good alternative (certainly better than I would expect, given the sorry history of open-source project names).

So what are you waiting for? Go download it already!



February 9, 2004
9:36 am

OK, the Mozilla team HAVE to quit renaming their products. It’s hard enough to get IE users to understand that Mozilla == Netscape, and that Phoenix, er, Firebird == stripped_down(‘Mozilla’). Renaming will just further confuse things and really will slow adoption.

Jason Lefkowitz

February 9, 2004
10:12 am

Hey, I agree. But they had to do something — Firebird was apparently an untenable name from a legal standpoint (I think they could have made a good argument aimed at letting them keep it, but with the cost and risk inherent in that sort of thing it’s usually easier just to avoid the fight). Would have been better if they’d known that before they made the change to Firebird, but that’s water under the bridge now.
The good news is that they are saying that they have spent many months exhaustively vetting the Firefox name for any potential conflicts, and it has come up clean. (There’s a “Name Change FAQ” on the site — I’d post a link but they’re being Slashdotted at the moment.) So there’s every indication that Firefox is *the* name going forward.
From what I understand hassling about names is not what the developers would prefer to be doing with their time, so I would imagine that we won’t be seeing another name change for quite awhile 🙂


February 9, 2004
1:42 pm

What about “Mozilla Firebird” which was the legal name? That you can short-hand for lusers as “Firebird” without too much confusion. It would be less embarrassing had they not had to make the change from Phoenix to Firebird for just this reason. So there’s no guarantee that they’ll keep this one, because their lawyers obviously aren’t up to snuff.
I don’t care if God Himself told them to change the name–whatever the reason, it will slow adoption.