Application compatibility may slow Firefox growth

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The increasingly popular Firefox browser could stumble in its bid to make inroads into the corporate environment, despite its many plaudits for increased security and user-friendliness.

Latest figures from website measurement company WebSideStory saw the new browser's share of the market grow slightly to 4.78 per cent of all internet users by December 2004, while Microsoft's Internet Explorer dropped to 90 per cent. Just recently the Mozilla Foundation celebrated 21 million downloads of Firefox since the software's release last November.

But analysts believe the browser will have a difficult time gaining acceptance in the enterprise as there would be too much work involved in making enterprise applications work with non-Microsoft browsers.

"Replacing Internet Explorer causes incompatibilities," said Jay Heiser, director of research, infosecurity and risk at Gartner. "It would require a lot of web development to ensure that applications worked on two different browsers."

Graham Titterington, principal analyst at Ovum, said many users kept the default browser that ships with an operating system, but more were experimenting with different operating systems, such as Linux.

But he warned that the increasing popularity of Firefox could see more attacks, outweighing its claimed inherent security features.

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