George Orwell would use Firefox

Firefox with Firebird Shadow

When the Mozilla Foundation announced the name change for their web browser from Firebird to Firefox, there was a predictable response of skepticism. It was the second name change and people were understandably skeptical that the name would continue to change.

Even though the Mozilla Foundation was clear that Firefox was indeed the final name and was subject to a significant amount of scrutiny to avoid any future pitfalls with the name (trademarks, etc.), people still felt the need to chime in with suggestions.

And no, Thunderbird will not be called ThunderFox. Ever.

All of this was something of a tempest in a teapot – with the world of developers and webloggers (each of us a marketing expert) with an opinion (see the Slashdot thread – or don’t). Fortunately though, the final name change took place just before Firefox began its foray into the mainstream.

As the good Mozilla Foundation folks predicted, there was a small fire-storm of criticism (thunder-storm?), and then, only a few months later, Firefox has been generally accepted and the name changes forgotten.

While it’s not on the scale of the great Orwellian WWF-to-WWE switch, our own little Orwellian name switch has gone quite smoothly. Except for one hold-out office mate who insists on calling it it “firecat”, people have gotten comfortable with the new name, and with the rate of growth and exposure that will come with the 1.0 release this summer, a growing percentage of the Firefox users will never have even known the previous names.

Firefox is Firefox, Thunderbird is Thunderbird, and we all live happily ever after. Onward to 1.0!


13 thoughts on “George Orwell would use Firefox

  1. Now all we need is for the developers to a) get native OS X widgets and b) get rid of that hideous hidden window that pop up in Exposé!

    And then of course it would be nice if it also tabbed into the OS X dictionary and perhaps shared bookmarks directly with Safari and and and…

    Even so, Firefox has deserved its current reputation the hard way. Name squabbles aside it has thus far been a pleasure to see it move into the big league.

  2. I keep wanting to call it Thunderpanda, for whatever reason. I think a friend and I ended up having that as one of the silly names that we were suggesting, shortly after the name switch to Firefox. Or I might have seen it somewhere else online, I forget. Mostly an inside joke between us now 🙂

    Keeping the names as Firefox and Thunderbird is fine with me, though. Both of them are getting closer to 1.0, and the less confusion about the naming, the better. I’ve already converted my family to using it, I just need to work on some friends still using IE (one of which finally stopped using Netscape 4 in the last year or so). Native ability to block popups has been a big selling point, and then they find out the other great things about it.

  3. AFAIK Firefox will never be native, this is because Firefox uses XUL, and unless they drop XUL and split UI development amongst the various platforms they currently support (something that-though I’d be all for-would never happen), there’s just no reason to hope for such a development.

    Currently, Firefox uses nsTheme to draw the widgets, and fudges things as best they can to make Firefox sorta fit into OS X. We’ll never see it use the system-wide spellchecker for instance, or all the other goodies that you or I take for granted.

    If you want a native version of Mozilla, you’re going to have to stick with Camino.

    [P.S. If anyone has any other bits of information that contradicts anything I’ve said, I’d love to know]

  4. I’ve converted my dad:

    So much cleaner!

    And I’ve pointed out that FFX scales text defined in any unit, unlike IE, which ignores px. With his eyesight, he loved it (naturally, I picked a site with 10px type to illustrate the point).

  5. GM: Thanks for the enlightning reply. That’s too bad, but as you say, there is Camino. But for some reason I odn’t feel entirely comformtable in it yet. Though the .9 beta with the new tabs might help that.

  6. For whatever reason, I can’t get the name straight. I usually refer to it as Firebird in conversation, then sometimes correct myself to Firefox, and then wonder if either of them is right. At that point, I’ve lost my original train of thought so it ends up not mattering anyway.

  7. “just before Firefox began it’s foray into the mainstream”

    This isn’t a contraction of “it is” or “it has” so there should be no apostrophe.

  8. I really don’t understand why people are getting so bent out of shape about these name changes.

    It’s clearly stated on the Firefox home page that Fire___ is still a TECHNOLOGY PREVIEW RELEASE of the Mozilla project’s “next generation standalone web browser.”

    Fire___ is constantly undergoing major changes until its 1.0 release, most of which are far more interesting and/or important than the name.

    For what it’s worth, if the current name, Firefox, really bugs you — you’re in luck! Download a pre-0.9 build to find out what the NEXT name is going to be (or you can just read the next line)…

    Mozilla Firehawk

    Is that the final name? Who knows. I’d tend to agree with the following bit taken from the Mozilla Firefox FAQ:

    “But I hate the new name. It’s stupid.”

    Our editors are trying to figure out whether this is a
    question. Of course not everyone will like the new name,
    especially at first. We’re confident most people will
    quickly get used to it. New names have a way of sounding
    terrible at first. If you’re unhappy with the new name,
    consider trying out the many improvements we’ve made in
    the latest release of our browser – we hope that’ll make
    you feel better. After all, what’s most important is how
    the thing works, not what it’s called.

    Word. 🙂

  9. To clarify on “wonderbred”‘s comment (maybe he was being sarcastic?), the name is not changing. “Firefox” is permanent.

  10. Firefox will never be native

    Not Firefox, but the widgets. NSITheme (IIRC) can allow the browser to use Native Widgets; this is how Firefox works on Windows. It would certainly be nice if the GTK2 & OS X builds of Firefox picked up Native Widgets as well, but it was my understanding that the code just isn’t there yet (although the 0.8+ GTK2 Builds do have some enhanced GTK in them, the menus have native appearance now).

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