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Firefox hits a billion

July 31, 2009 |  9:00 am

The much-loved Firefox Web browser reached a milestone this morning -- its billionth download.

The download counter rolled over within the last hour. Quite a feat for a browser that unlike Microsoft's Internet Explorer or Apple's Safari is run by a nonprofit organization with fewer than 250 employees. Despite its lack of big corporation backing -- or maybe partially because of that lack -- Firefox has become hugely popular worldwide.

But it couldn't have gotten there on good feelings alone. The free browser that debuted in 2004 consistently gets high marks for speed, efficiency, adaptability and user-friendliness. 

Also, Firefox is built on open source software, which means that its programming code is accessible to  developers who want to make compatible, collaborative products, and even participate in the further development of the browser.

More than 1,000 volunteers have indeed contributed to Firefox's code and about 20,000 test daily updates.

-- David Colker