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Firefox cracks 1 billion downloads

Less than five years after its initial release, Mozilla's Firefox Web browser has hit its one billionth download.

Firefox, which was released in November 2004 as an open-source Web browser, is celebrating this milestone by constantly updating its Twitter feed to provide regular reports on how many times the browser has been downloaded, as well as launching the “1 Billion Plus You” Web site to promote new downloads. Despite the fact that the billionth download has already occurred, the company says that “1 Billion Plus You” will not be officially online until this coming Monday.

20 great Firefox extensions

The company's running count includes all versions of Firefox downloaded since 2004, meaning that its total of 1 billion does not mean 1 billion separate users are working with the browser today.

According to the company’s Twitter feed, Firefox hit its billionth download sometime around 11 a.m. Eastern time this morning. The company sent out notices to media outlets alerting them to the milestone shortly thereafter.

Since its release five years ago, Firefox has earned accolades from numerous reviewers for its ease of use and its flexibility in letting users create their own settings and user experiences. Because Firefox is an open-source browser, it has inspired developers to create a wide array of extensions for Web applications that give users more options in how they surf the Internet.Developers have created everything from a specialized Gmail manager to an online color reader to customizable ad blockers.

Firefox has about a 30% market share, according to StatCounter. Microsoft IE has just a shade under 60%, according to the Web analytics firm.

Earlier this year, Mozilla released into beta test a mobile version of the browser, dubbed Fennec. Like other modern mobile browsers, Fennec has a full-fledged HTML rendering engine and a blazingly fast JavaScript engine, both based on the public source Webkit code.

The beta release is currently out for the Nokia N810 Internet Tablets running the Maeomo OS, but Mozilla recently released the “alpha 2” Fennec version for Windows Mobile 6. Versions to simulate handhelds and experiment with Fennec are available for desktops running Mac OS X, Windows and Linux.

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