Firefox looks to integrated desktop searches

Having launched the much awaited version 1.0 of the Firefox browser yesterday, the Mozilla Foundation is already planning...

Having launched the much awaited version 1.0 of the Firefox browser yesterday, the Mozilla Foundation is already planning enhancements, including the possibility of integrating it with a variety of desktop search tools.

Mozilla also wants to place Firefox in PCs through deals with PC hardware companies and to continue to work on its pop-up ad blocking technology.

These and other enhancements will help Firefox to continue building the already considerable momentum it has generated. "We believe there's room for a lot of growth for Firefox's market share and there's a number of things we need to do to continue on this growth curve," said Mozilla engineering director Chris Hofmann.

For the past few years, Microsoft Internet Explorer had held around 95% of the browser market, but this year it has been slowly but consistently losing ground, with Firefox emerging as a fast-growing product, according to web company WebSideStory. At the end of last month, IE had 92.9% of the market, while Firefox had secured 3% through its preview versions.

Hofmann said Mozilla was researching how to offer Firefox users a choice of third-party tools for searching information stored on their PCs. "We see a lot of growth with the integration of searching websites and searching your desktop, so we'll be looking at ways to try and integrate that search within the browser, to make more seamless how users go searching for information, whether on the internet or their computer."

Desktop search is one of the hottest areas in the search market, as users look for tools that let them find information on their PCs with the same ease and speed of internet search engines.

Google recently introduced one such tool, while AOL and Yahoo are developing their own wares. Microsoft has bundled hard-disc searching functionality with Windows, but the technology has been considered clunky and Microsoft is expected to offer an enhanced alternative in the near future. In the meantime, IT companies such as X1 Technologies, Copernic and Blinkx already offer desktop search tools.

"There are a variety of companies working on that technology and we may just try and identify a way for Firefox to plug into a variety of desktop search engines and enable users to pick and choose," Hofmann said.

Mozilla will also continue to boost Firefox's pop-up ad blocker, a key feature to improve the browsing experience. "We want to stay ahead of the curve of websites that like to inject pop ups, so we'll continue to improve our pop-up blocker," said Hofmann.

Beyond Firefox, Mozilla will continue to work on other internet software, such as its Thunderbird e-mail client, whose version 1.0 should ship later this month. Also in the works is calendar software.

Juan Carlos Perez writes for IDG News Service

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