Browser Wars: Lost Pretense of Innocence

Nobody is surprised when Google does something sneaky and dirty. We all figured out long ago that Google is evil in the sense that they will not hesitate to lie, and will gladly sell you to the highest bidder. They don’t in the least mind doing things we find creepy, manipulative and invasive.

Google is the Devil we know. We also know that their expertise in technology is hard to match. They’ve taken on the older generation of technology companies and have little trouble competing in areas the Google wants to dominate. The only thing holding them back is their degree of willingness to invest and fight for something that may not be an easy win. But we as tech-savvy users have come to expect Google to act like any government, with their behind-the-scenes “screw you” attitude, but doing it with a great deal of competence because it’s all about the money.

We don’t expect this from Mozilla. Mozilla has positioned themselves as friends of users. They admitted their technology was lagging in some ways, but assured it was partly because they were watching out for our best interests. Maybe they were at some point in the past, but no longer: Firefox Is on a Slippery Slope.

Mozilla has slipped a new bit of malware into their browser without warning. There has been a huge backlash and Mozilla has shut down all means of comment or complaint on this issue. Right when they have just now managed to win back a lot of users with their new and vastly improved browser, they crap on everyone who trusted them.

Let’s be clear: There are no good guys in the browser wars.

Okay, let’s refine this image just a bit. The Internet has become entirely too complicated. When it was a means to deliver documents and information, it was something that changed the world. When it became the means to delivering advertising and applications that run inside your browser, it was turned into a virtual pox on the human race. We can debate whether that transition was inevitable, but we cannot debate the hideous nastiness that it has become.

This is why we seek and use the precious few efforts to dial back the abuse. We use ad-blockers, we seek ways to turn off or tone down certain features in our browsers (mostly having to do with Javascript), and we generally fight back as best we can in what has turned into a technology arms race. Sure, it was all born of the best intentions of delivering things the users actually wanted. But technology is morally neutral in broad terms, so any evil sonuvabitch can get in on the fun. Low and behold, it seems the sonsabitches outnumber the good guys in terms of user experience.

There are two ways a browser project can go: full service or something less. There are three basic projects trying to do the full service stuff: Microsoft’s Edge (formerly IE; the Trident engine), Google’s Chrome (the Blink engine), and Mozilla (Gecko engine). There are some legacy engines that were previously part of this show (like WebKit), but are now relegated to minor projects. Then there are a several more projects taking the other route, with no intention of implementing everything. And the big three are bundled into operating systems, so the typical user never gives it that much thought.

In this market, Mozilla has long been the underdog of the big three. It is currently bundled with a lot of Linux distributions and similar operating systems, which amounts to a tiny minority on Net. Their squeaky clean image was their primary selling point. Whether they might have damaged it in the past won’t matter too much now, because they have thrown it away completely with their latest slimy actions.

So now the only question is which of the evil sonsabitches offers the closest to what you can tolerate. Yes, there are dozens of browsers built of Blink and Gecko, and some of the projects are striving to correct some small selection of abuses. You’ll have to make up your own mind, the question is frankly complex.

About Ed Hurst

Disabled Veteran, prophet of God's Laws, Bible History teacher, wannabe writer, volunteer computer technician, cyclist, Social Science researcher
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2 Responses to Browser Wars: Lost Pretense of Innocence

  1. Jay DiNitto says:

    For a short year, Mozilla was the IE killer. When IE killed Netscape I think it coasted on its momentum, and Firefox saw the opportunity. I don’t think that was a long period, though, because Chrome and then later Safari entered the picture. Things were probably a lot better then, in terms of the overarching goal of browser technologists.


  2. Ed Hurst says:

    Google was being careful in their early iterations of Chrome in order to win market share. Now they dominate the market, and they’ve been slipping their junk into it for quite some time.


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