Updated [Update: The msfirefox site went offline earlier this morning. Which may or may not have something to do with Microsoft lawyers. Thanks for all the emails and we're sorry for spoiling breakfast for some Mozilla fans.]
The open source community is in a state of shock this morning at the news that Microsoft has released a version of popular browser Firefox.
The audacious move, which pretty well guarantees Redmond control of the entire browser market, will be received with dismay among those who previously believed that the might of Bill Gates' chequebook could, and should, be resisted.
Naturally, Microsoft has made some improvements to the product, and the new features offered to Firefox fans include:
Simplified user experience
Microsoft Firefox presents a noticeably simpler, more streamlined, less cluttered interface than all other browsers. The introduction of the Cut Away Effect™ randomly disables the rendering of 9/10 of Microsoft Firefox [and] helps to reduce the strain on system resources. This also maximizes the area of the screen devoted to the desktop that you want to see and makes performing the most common computing tasks easy.
Amazing marginal manipulation
Automatically scales a printed margin so that it's not wider than the paper it will be printed on. Microsoft Firefox also includes a multi-page margin preview with live margins, resizing margins to avoid margin clipping, and an option to print only selected margins. Never have you seen a more robust margin technology in one small package.
Instant search box
Web searches using your favorite Microsoft search provider can now be entered into a search box within the toolbar. By eliminating the clutter of other search engines, you can easily choose a REAL reliable Microsoft provider from the dropdown list.
View multiple Microsoft sites in a single browser window. Easily switch from one Microsoft site to another through tabs at the top of the browser frame.
Seems plausible enough. Of course, it's in the area of security where MS Firefox really scores:
Dynamic security protection
Microsoft Firefox 2007 provides security through a robust new architecture, security features that help defend against malicious software, and new ways to better protect against the theft of personal data from fraudulent websites, a practice known as Googling.
Third party opt-in
Disables nearly all pre-installed non-Microsoft software to prevent potentially vulnerable controls from being exposed to attack. You can easily enable or disable required programs as needed through the Add-on Manager by using any valid credit card.
Security status bar
Enhances awareness of website security and privacy settings by displaying colour-coded notifications next to the address bar. Microsoft Firefox changes the address bar to green for websites bearing the Microsoft Partnership Certificate, indicating the site owner has completed extensive identity and friendship verification checks. Googling filter notifications, certificate names, and the gold padlock icon are now also adjacent to the address bar for better visibility.
Proactively warns and helps protect you against potential or known fraudulent sites such as Google.com, blocks the site and shuts down your computer if necessary. The filter is updated several times per hour using the latest security information from Microsoft.
Delete browsing history
Allows you to clean up cached pages, passwords, form data, cookies, and history of illegal warez and propaganda sites - all from a single window.
Address bar protection
Every window, whether it's a pop-up or standard window, will present an address bar to the user, helping to block malicious sites such as Yahoo.com.
Microsoft Firefox is available for download here. Please note it won't run on Mac or Linux. ®
Thanks to the many readers who alerted us to this shocking and quite unbelievable piece of news.