Watch out Firefox – Here Comes Maxthon! 11 January, 2007Posted by paralleldivergence in apple, firefox, maxthon, Web 2.0, windows.
In the most recent count by the respected W3Counter Global Web Stats, Firefox in all its versions and flavors, has hit a very respectable 25% market share in just two short years since the version 1.0 release. This rapid rise has been on the back of the history of a ubiquitous Microsoft Internet Explorer stumbling through a series of major security breaches, ignorance of World Wide Web Consortium standards and a lack of upgrades. Firefox has also benefitted from a grass roots, sometimes almost militant campaign against IE to “Take Back the Web”, driven by developers and the blogosphere.
Meanwhile, pre-dating Firefox by a few years, a solo university student in Beijing, China who called himself “Changyou“, decided he wanted to make Internet Explorer better. His development was called MyIE. Following in the footsteps of NetCaptor, released a year earlier, the first version of MyIE included tabbed-browsing. But on top of this great innovation he implemented many of the now-common browser “plug-ins” inside his IE-engined revolution.
In 2000, Changyou posted most of the source code to MyIE on his bulletin board system and walked away for personal reasons. It was then taken up by another student from another Beijing university, Jeff Chen – “Bloodchen“, who had admired the software so much that he decided to further develop it. In 2002, MyIE2 was released and in 2003 it became Maxthon. In 2005 it was named one of the best 100 products by PC World Magazine, was publicly endorsed by Microsoft and leading Wall Street Internet Analysts and to date has had well over 70 million downloads.
In China, Maxthon is the second-most popular browser with 30% market share – well ahead of Firefox. As for the rest of the world, the only thing that has driven its spread has been the power of “word of mouth”. I’ve been using Maxthon as my default browser since 2002 when it was still MyIE2. When Firefox first came out, I installed it and tried it for a week but went straight back to Maxthon. When Firefox 1.5 was released, the same thing happened and again with v2.0. Why?
The biggest problems I’ve found with Firefox are that it’s clunky, it doesn’t do Tabs anwhere near as good as Maxthon, it’s prone to crashes (whereby you lose the tabs you had open – Maxthon recovers these for you in the event of a crash), it’s slower than Maxthon and it’s very memory hungry. The other big problem I’ve found is sure, you can get plugins for Firefox that do many of the things Maxthon does out of the box, but everytime they upgrade Firefox, it breaks all those plugins and you’re back on the merry go round.
But aside from that, Firefox is standards-compliant, which means it doesn’t work with half of the sites on the internet. ;) [a little joke]
Don’t get me wrong, I do have Firefox on my PC because there are some sites that are “Firefox-only” (they’re playing the old Microsoft game – good luck to them). But my default browser is Maxthon 1.5.9. I’ve also been playing with the beta 2.0 for about a week. I’m very impressed, but it’s still a beta. This article was written and posted using Maxthon 2.0 beta on IE7 without any problems – all with 18 other tabs open at the same time on an old Pentium 4 1.6.
Now for the good news on Maxthon. With backing from US-based Charles River Ventures, this little China-based business is heading for a global push for the first time when version 2.0 is released in the northern Spring. As IE7 fights to regain lost ground, Maxthon 2.0 won’t really mind who leads the race in 2007 – it will work with either the IE or the Gecko (Firefox’s) engine. WordPress’s own Robert Scoble recently spoke to Maxthon’s SVP and put together a great video interview and demonstration of Maxthon 2.0. Take a look. Even Linux World has called Maxthon the “Real Firefox-Killer”
The browser wars are a good thing. They are driving innovation that can only benefit the user at the end of the day. You may prefer one browser over another – but that doesn’t mean you can’t at least try something different. By the way, on my Mac, I prefer Opera 9. What do you like, and why?
As for Brad & Phil, they’ve got more serious things to worry about…