Thursday, 19 June 2008 03:33

Firefox 3 blasts through 8 million downloads in 24 hours, record to be confirmed

Mozilla was hoping for 5 million downloads of Firefox 3 on its first day, and then 7 million seemed possible but it has outdone outself yet again. When the 24 hour period ended, the new browser had been downloaded 8.3 million times, but is it a software downloads record?

The occasion had been used to establish a world record for the number of times a single piece of software was downloaded in one day, but the 8 million figure is subject to confirmation by the judges and validation by Guinness World Records.

According to Mozilla CEO John Lilly, the official count is likely to be "a little lower as we weed out overcounts". However, the total number of Firefox 3 could be higher, as the record attempt only counts complete manual downloads - any prerelease copies updating themselves to the release version have not been included.

Meanwhile, the number of downloads continues to mount and at the time of writing had exceeded 9.1 million.

The minimum target of 1.6 million (the number of times Firefox 2 was downloaded on its first day) was reached in five hours, and the 5 million figure was passed in less than 14 hours.

With around an hour to go, the total stood at 7.8 million, and it seemed touch-and-go whether the 8 million mark would be reached.

Who were the big downloaders? Find out on page 2.

The 10 biggest downloaders on the day were US, Germany, Japan, Spain, UK, France, Iran, Italy, Canada, and Poland.

This reflects Firefox's strong following in Europe. According to XiTi Monitor, its average browser share across Europe for March 2008 was 28.8 percent.

Australia put in a decent showing on a per-capita basis, with well over 100,000 downloads counting towards the record.

XiTi Monitor's figures give Firefox has a 31.2 percent browser share in Oceania, which includes Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

Some of the statistics for the record attempt issued by Mozilla are impressive: a total of 83T was served, with a peak throughput of 20 gigabits per second across the network of mirrors.

Peak activity reached 17,000 downloads a minute, with sustained rates of over 4000 per minute.

While that's a lot of activity, Adobe platform evangelist has rained on Mozilla's parade, claiming that Flash Player is installed 8 million times on an average day.

Downloads are one thing, but is anyone actually using Firefox 3? The answer is on page 3.

According to Net Applications, Firefox 3's web share peaked at 4.3 percent during the record attempt, but subsequently slipped back into the 3 percent range. This could reflect a natural ebb and flow due to Firefox's varying popularity in different time zones - it's unusual to measure a browser's popularity over such short intervals.

Key features of Firefox 3 include a 'smart' location bar which adapts to user preferences, page display that's two to three times faster than Firefox 2, security improvements, and an add-ons manager. In all, more than 15,000 improvements have been made.

Firefox 3 is available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux from Mozilla's GetFirefox site.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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