Feature Creep in Firefox

Firefox has become my default browser, so much so that when I recently had to use Internet Explorer, I felt slightly lost.

The tabbed browsing initially drew me to Firefox but I would have say Foxmarks has become best reason to use it. I use two machines fairly heavily, one at home and one at work. In the past, synchronizing favorites was a pain; if I bookmarked something at work, I typically wouldn’t have it at home. Now, Firefox seamlessly synchs bookmarks so I don’t have to worry about it.

Foxmarks is a plug-in that needs to be downloaded and installed separately from Firefox itself. The next version of Firefox will incorporated more of the functionality that used to be provided by a plug-in with the initial installation. There is some concern about this type of feature creep and its effect on performance:

Anecdotal reports of problems, from sluggishness to slow page loads and frequent crashes, have begun circulating in web forums, along with increasingly loud calls for Firefox to return to its roots. The alleged culprit: bloat, the same problem that once plagued Mozilla, the slow, overstuffed open-source browser spawned by Netscape that Firefox was originally meant to replace.

The issue of what should and shouldn’t be included in a product is core to role of a Product Manager. It will be interesting to follow how an open source community like Mozilla makes these difficult decisions.

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