According to IEBlog, IE7 will have tabs. OK, everyone who’s surprised, raise your hands.
It seems obvious that every feature in Firefox 1.0 that has been used to promote the browser to the general audience will show up in the next version of Internet Explorer. That’s just common sense. People left your product to get X, so you provide X yourself in hopes of luring them back. And since Firefox is developed openly, the IE team can see what they’re planning and try to guess what the next big draw will be.
So Firefox 1.1 will probably not be able to compete with IE7 on feature set, at least as far as the end-user is concerned. And since designers have to respond to the market (for all our “Spread Firefox” and “Browse Happy” buttons, we don’t really have much effect on what browser people are using), improved standards compliance has never been a major factor in adoption.
What does that leave?
- Security. This is a tricky one, particularly with the recent publicity over vulnerabilities. We (FF supporters) need to emphasize more secure and not totally secure, which is what people are hearing and debunking.
- Open Source/Free Software. Only a small portion of the audience cares about this. Too many people don’t know the difference between Free Software and free software.
- Not Microsoft. Microsoft has ticked off a lot of people with their business practices, especially in Europe. And Americans love to root for the underdog. (Remember when little Microsoft was going to save us from the big bad IBM?) Probably not a long-term strategy, though.
- Compatibility. IE doesn’t run on Linux, and the Mac version is basically dead. Firefox is fast becoming the default browser on a number of Linux distributions, and while the Mac version isn’t perfectly integrated, they’re working on it. So for someone like me, who uses Windows, Linux, and MacOS on a regular basis, a common browser has strong appeal (even if I do keep looking for the preferences in the wrong place).
(Cross-posted at Spread Firefox)