Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Mozilla Foundation's Firefox are the two most popular browsers in the world. A few years after the open source Firefox browser was introduced, it has successfully chipped away at IE's monopoly.

Comparison chart

Firefox versus Internet Explorer comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartFirefoxInternet Explorer
  • current rating is 4.22/5
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  • current rating is 2.39/5
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FirefoxInternet Explorer
Open source Yes No
Initial release September 23, 2002 August 16, 1995; 18 years ago
Default search engine Google Bing
Tab Groups Yes No
Tabbed browsing Yes Yes
License MPL 2.0 Proprietary EULA
Operating Systems Windows, OS X, GNU/Linux, Android, iOS, Firefox OS (Unofficial ports to BSDs, Solaris, OpenSolaris, illumos, IBM AIX, HP-UX, UnixWare) Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox one
Full screen mode Supported Supported
Developed by Mozilla Microsoft Corp.
Supports custom extensions Yes No
Freeware Yes (Comes with MS Windows OS)
Flash player Plugin available; not built-in Plugin Available; not built-in
CSS animated gradients in HTML Supported Not Supported
Related software Firefox OS Microsoft Windows
Developer Mozilla Foundation and the open source community Microsoft
PDF viewer PDF viewer natively supported (without plugin); more features than Google Chrome such as thumbnails, page numbers, page navigation None
Available in 79 languages 95 languages
Type Web browser, Feed reader, Mobile web browser web browser, feed reader


The first version of Internet Explorer (IE) was released in August 1995, a time when Netscape had a near monopoly in the browser market. IE was bundled together with the dominant Windows operating system and by 2001 had a monopoly market share of over 90%.

Dave Hyatt and Blake Ross began working on the Firefox project as an experimental branch of the Mozilla project. They believed the commercial requirements of Netscape's sponsorship and developer-driven feature creep compromised the utility of the Mozilla browser. To combat what they saw as the Mozilla Suite's software bloat, they created a stand-alone browser, with which they intended to replace the Mozilla Suite. On April 3, 2003, the Mozilla Organization announced that they planned to change their focus from the Mozilla Suite to Firefox and Thunderbird.

Market Share

From 2005 to 2010, Firefox had been steadily gaining market share from Internet Explorer. Wikipedia states that IE's market share in 2007 was 78.6% and around 75% in Jan 2008. [1] This includes all versions of IE. Firefox had close to 20% share in 2008. By June 2010, Firefox share was 31% and IE was down to 50%. In August 2011, Firefox share was around 23% and IE's share was around 38%.

In June 2012, the desktop browser market share of Internet Explorer and Firefox relative to other browsers was as follows[2]:

Desktop browser usage share for June 2011
Source Google Chrome Internet
Firefox Safari Opera
StatCounter 32.76 % 32.31% 24.56 % 7.00 % 1.77 %
W3Counter 28.1% 29.9% 23.1% 6.5% 2.4%
Wikimedia 33.24% 29.4% 24.16% 5.89 % 3.99%
Median value 32.76% 29.9% 24.16% 6.5% 2.4% (includes mobile) 23.4% 27.2% 17.6% 21.6% 2.5%


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