How Different Are the Current Firefox and Pale Moon Rendering Engines?

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How Different Are the Current Firefox and Pale Moon Rendering Engines?

Unread post by CharmCityCrab » 2019-08-28, 21:56

I realize that Pale Moon is not Firefox and never will be again, and that it is almost certainly the Firefox fork that is the most different from Firefox at this point, with more differences likely to come in the future. However, obviously, they have a common ancestor code wise, so to speak.

It got me thinking. At this point in time, how similar are the two browsers and their rendering engines in terms of the way they display web sites? Anyone want to take a stab at a rough percentage? Are they still more similar than, say, Pale Moon and Chrome, or have we reached the point where they aren't?

I ask purely out of curiosity.

Bonus question (optional): Where do you expect that percentage to be in a year?

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Re: How Different Are the Current Firefox and Pale Moon Rendering Engines?

Unread post by vannilla » 2019-08-28, 22:01

Considering that both Servo and whatever Edge used before switching to WebKit are meant to be as close as possible to Blink while keeping enough differences (pixel-wise probably) to avoid lawsuits, I'd say tye percentage is high.
Or maybe I'm wrong in my assumptions...

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Re: How Different Are the Current Firefox and Pale Moon Rendering Engines?

Unread post by New Tobin Paradigm » 2019-08-28, 22:07

Who cares? Aside from CharmCityLongPost...
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Re: How Different Are the Current Firefox and Pale Moon Rendering Engines?

Unread post by Moonchild » 2019-08-28, 23:13

If we're going by file differences in /gfx and /layout:
20699 files identical, 5595 different, 8615 files unique to Firefox, 3720 files unique to UXP
so 17930/38629 are different or unique, meaning 46.4% of the source code files are different.
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Re: How Different Are the Current Firefox and Pale Moon Rendering Engines?

Unread post by CharmCityCrab » 2019-08-29, 01:08

Moonchild wrote:
2019-08-28, 23:13
If we're going by file differences in /gfx and /layout:
20699 files identical, 5595 different, 8615 files unique to Firefox, 3720 files unique to UXP
so 17930/38629 are different or unique, meaning 46.4% of the source code files are different.
Thanks. Interesting information just in terms of seeing how far the projects have diverged in one aspect of what they do. I could imagine it being useful for people from a web compatibility and testing perspective as well.

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Re: How Different Are the Current Firefox and Pale Moon Rendering Engines?

Unread post by Moonchild » 2019-08-29, 07:07

CharmCityCrab wrote:
2019-08-29, 01:08
Interesting information just in terms of seeing how far the projects have diverged in one aspect of what they do.
Maybe but I'm sure the Firefox fanbois will find a way to give this a negative twist to somehow make us even more obsolete XD

People doing web compat testing won't be including "niche browsers" usually. Also, the rendering engine has little to do with web compat; that's more the realm of /dom and /js.
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Re: How Different Are the Current Firefox and Pale Moon Rendering Engines?

Unread post by doofy » 2019-09-10, 21:19

Moonchild wrote:
2019-08-29, 07:07
Firefox fanbois
I don't understand ff fanbois.
I mean - I s'pose I was an ff fanboi from the start until sometime in ff52+. But then ff started moving away, and so did I.
Why attach to a piece of software? It either does what you want or it doesn't.

ff fanbois these days aren't ff fanbois - they're moz fanbois, which is even more extraordinary.
They buy into this crap that ff is developed by a "not for profit", when a cursory glance at the accounts tells us it it developed by a half bill p.a corp.

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Re: How Different Are the Current Firefox and Pale Moon Rendering Engines?

Unread post by Moonchild » 2019-09-10, 21:24

doofy wrote:
2019-09-10, 21:19
aren't ff fanbois - they're moz fanbois
Isn't that the same thing? Not like Mozilla is developing anything but Firefox and all the services they've built around it -- they've ejected mail, suite and anything else that isn't Firefox.
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Re: How Different Are the Current Firefox and Pale Moon Rendering Engines?

Unread post by doofy » 2019-09-10, 21:35

Moonchild wrote:
2019-09-10, 21:24
doofy wrote:
2019-09-10, 21:19
aren't ff fanbois - they're moz fanbois
Isn't that the same thing?
Never used to be; certainly is now.

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Re: How Different Are the Current Firefox and Pale Moon Rendering Engines?

Unread post by moonbat » 2019-09-11, 03:34

doofy wrote:
2019-09-10, 21:19
I don't understand ff fanbois.
I mean - I s'pose I was an ff fanboi from the start until sometime in ff52+. But then ff started moving away, and so did I.
Why attach to a piece of software? It either does what you want or it doesn't.

ff fanbois these days aren't ff fanbois - they're moz fanbois, which is even more extraordinary.
They buy into this crap that ff is developed by a "not for profit", when a cursory glance at the accounts tells us it it developed by a half bill p.a corp.
I was one, from when it was called Phoenix till about 2011 when Australis was first introduced, and I had quite the collection of addons. I moved to Seamonkey at that point since it still had a traditional UI and not 'replace all dialog boxes with tabs' a la Chrome. I was already irritated with their fucking around with the UI and enjoyed using Seamonkey for the next 4 years. 2015 I first heard of Pale Moon on the infamous Mozillazine thread.
These self described fanbois probably started browsing the net for the first time with Chrome and then fell for Mozilla's utter bullshit about respecting privacy long after 2015, so they have no clue what it was originally like. Either that, or if they are long term FF users, they never were into extensions in the first place and used the barest minimum (which have already got WebExtensions versions, like uBO).
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Re: How Different Are the Current Firefox and Pale Moon Rendering Engines?

Unread post by CharmCityCrab » 2019-09-11, 05:48

doofy wrote:
2019-09-10, 21:19
I don't understand ff fanbois.
I mean - I s'pose I was an ff fanboi from the start until sometime in ff52+. But then ff started moving away, and so did I.
Why attach to a piece of software? It either does what you want or it doesn't.
I imagine nostalgia or warm associations with things like names and logos plays a role (Which both just naturally happen without much thought sometimes). That's part of the human condition, really- not that everyone feels that way, but that there are always going to be a percentage of people who do.

Think of all the Android versus Apple stuff, for example, or PC vs. Mac. Some of that is actually about something tangible (Customizability, price, features, hardware, etc.), but other parts of it are about your first smartphone or your first computer, what you had in high school or college, what you used to communicate to your lost love with, what you played your favorite games or wrote your first novel on, what you're used to, and so forth. A not insignificant number of older users of Linux are probably using it in part because they started with Unix instead of DOS back in the days before operating systems had graphical user interfaces.

I remember right before AIM shut down, I still accessed it regularly through Pidgin (A third-party open-source client for AIM and similar Instant Message services), along with a small number of fellow stragglers. They all seemed bummed out, so I suggested we just all switch to Jabber and use Pidigin to access that. I even found a guy who would give us all accounts on his server (Which was otherwise closed to new registrations) for free. It'd have been in practical terms the exact same thing- we used Pidgin for AIM, we'd just use Pidgin for Jabber and keep doing what we were doing (Probably with the same or similar screen names). No one agreed to do it- I signed on every day for months in case anyone changed their mind, but no one did, despite wailing and nashing of teeth on their parts when they heard AIM was shutting down and a big to-do about how they would lose touch with people, etc.. I guess they literally just wanted AIM- exactly AIM, not even the same exact type of service with the exact same software and people where the service simply had a different name.

It goes further than that, too- people take a rooting interest in things like Coke vs. Pepsi soft drinks, Chevy vs Ford trucks, etc.. Nevermind that the tangible pros and cons of one brand truck relative to the other brand of truck probably change by the decade and even at times the model year- some people have been loyal to one brand or another since before they could drive and buy hats and t-shirts and whatever. The companies of course don't really recipercate that love, generally- I've heard of loyalty credits for car owners who trade in an old car that's the same brand as the new car they buy in the same transaction, but I've also heard of bonuses for first time buyers of a given car brand. Cell phone carriers in the US perversely tend to give you their best deals when you switch to them instead of rewarding you for staying put.

But it is what it is. We like our symbols and our nostalgia and having a team. That's part of why watching sports is popular (Note how teams usually represent a city and/or are associated with a certain image- they get tribal association points with people who live or used to live or had ancestors who lived in a place, and also people who identify with the team's image who don't necessarily have any connection with where they're from). Heck, the tendency to romanticize affiliations and take sides even when we know we're wrong or where things no longer stand for what they used to, but we refuse to understand that in our guts, has probably been responsible for more wars, bar fights , etc. than we'd like to admit over the centuries.

Not that all that stuff is always bad.

Anyway, I think part of the deal with browsers is that they are actually are fundamentally a lot alike. People perceive that they all can access almost all the web pages they want to visit and allow them to do roughly the same things on the pages. So, they are more apt to just pick a side and dig in and argue endlessly because in the end making the "wrong" choice may have relatively little effect on their lives or the lives of people they persuade. It generally isn't going to come back and bite them.

There's also the idea that things can stand for stuff in people's heads that is the result of marketing or the way things used to be that doesn't really reflect present day reality, but gives people a basis for making a choice and feeling good about it.

For example, is Firefox more private and customizeable than Chrome? It certainly used to be. Maybe it still is, maybe it isn't (Maybe its just complicated and depends on exactly what metrics one uses to measure such things, metrics that may themselves include a level of subjectivity). But people perceive a difference as being there. So, in a way, maybe some people pick Firefox because they like the symbolism and the reality doesn't really matter in a way that they will ever tangibly experience. Even though Mozilla the corporation probably is essentially running the show, the fact that Mozilla the non-profit is even there is a value signifier for people- Microsoft and Google are only corporations.

Similarly, I'll bet a lot of people use Chrome over Firefox because they think its speedier and more innovative. My guess is that at least on FF versions 57 and onward, there is not a speed difference most people will perceive except if they happen to have particular hardware or particular ways of using or configuring their firmware, operating systems, and software, or visit particular sites with particular usage patterns. My guess is that Firefox sometimes winds up being faster on PCs with lower hardware specs because it includes multiple tabs per process (Fewer resources tied up), but Chrome sometimee winds up being faster on the real top end computers because it has one tab per process (Ties up more resources, but on computers that have tons of resources to spare, one hanging site won't pull down or slow down whatever else is in that process, because its only that.).

There's also the question of whether one identifies more with the idea of backing the independent upstart or wants to fit in with whatever everyone else is doing or whatever the cool kids are doing.

These days, Firefox might be attracting some support just because people see Google's Chrome and Chromium products with Blink, and browsers based on them that are a little different but don't have the ability to not stick with Google's decisions on some things because doing so would be too resource intensive for them or undermine their other goals.

I could imagine someone who has no particular attachment or sees no particular advantage to Chrome over Firefox or Firefox over Chrome choosing Firefox because they don't like monopolies and feel like whatever flaws Firefox has that it is the last browser with its own rendering engine that they perceive as having enough marketshare to try to limit how far Google can go in leveraging its monopoly. They might see value in just having something that isn't the other ones, but is mainstream enough that there is no friction or practical inconvience created relative to using Chrome.

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Re: How Different Are the Current Firefox and Pale Moon Rendering Engines?

Unread post by Moonchild » 2019-09-11, 07:38

TL;DR for the above post:
Humans as a whole are very tribal and will act accordingly.
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Re: How Different Are the Current Firefox and Pale Moon Rendering Engines?

Unread post by moonbat » 2019-09-11, 07:52

CharmCityCrab wrote:
2019-09-11, 05:48
Anyway, I think part of the deal with browsers is that they are actually are fundamentally a lot alike. People perceive that they all can access almost all the web pages they want to visit and allow them to do roughly the same things on the pages. So, they are more apt to just pick a side and dig in and argue endlessly because in the end making the "wrong" choice may have relatively little effect on their lives or the lives of people they persuade. It generally isn't going to come back and bite them.
That seems contradictory - if browsers are so generic and interchangeable, then you'd expect people not to care which one they use.
There's also the idea that things can stand for stuff in people's heads that is the result of marketing or the way things used to be that doesn't really reflect present day reality, but gives people a basis for making a choice and feeling good about it.
This is more like it. Present day Firefox fans are delusional.
My guess is that Firefox sometimes winds up being faster on PCs with lower hardware specs because it includes multiple tabs per process (Fewer resources tied up), but Chrome sometimee winds up being faster on the real top end computers because it has one tab per process (Ties up more resources, but on computers that have tons of resources to spare, one hanging site won't pull down or slow down whatever else is in that process, because its only that.).
Not since FF also introduced 'e10s' or separate process for each tab.
There's also the question of whether one identifies more with the idea of backing the independent upstart or wants to fit in with whatever everyone else is doing or whatever the cool kids are doing.
Mozilla is a multi million dollar corporation like the rest, I doubt it ever was an upstart to begin with.
These days, Firefox might be attracting some support just because people see Google's Chrome and Chromium products with Blink, and browsers based on them that are a little different but don't have the ability to not stick with Google's decisions on some things because doing so would be too resource intensive for them or undermine their other goals.
Comes back to my recurring theme that the vast majority of people are morons. Mozilla is beholden to Google from day one, having had the majority of its revenue coming from Google search integration (Getting paid by Google while claiming to be all about privacy, that's a whole 'nother thing)
I could imagine someone who has no particular attachment or sees no particular advantage to Chrome over Firefox or Firefox over Chrome choosing Firefox because they don't like monopolies and feel like whatever flaws Firefox has that it is the last browser with its own rendering engine that they perceive as having enough marketshare to try to limit how far Google can go in leveraging its monopoly. They might see value in just having something that isn't the other ones, but is mainstream enough that there is no friction or practical inconvience created relative to using Chrome.
Firefox is on borrowed time anyway, its marketshare continues to slide even faster after throwing out the one feature that people still used it for - full customizability. At some point they will have to end up dumping Gecko for good and going the way of Opera and Edge if they want to survive.
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For my part, I'm going to try convince as many classic addon developers to jump onboard with Pale Moon as I can.
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Re: How Different Are the Current Firefox and Pale Moon Rendering Engines?

Unread post by New Tobin Paradigm » 2019-09-11, 09:32

Off-topic:
moonbat here is a protip: Take CharmCityCrab's posts as a challenge to deduce the tl;dr. Identify it and share it but do NOT disect it. It never ends well. If you come to the wrong distilled conclusion.. You will get another chance to practice the skill.
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Re: How Different Are the Current Firefox and Pale Moon Rendering Engines?

Unread post by moonbat » 2019-09-11, 09:34

New Tobin Paradigm wrote:
2019-09-11, 09:32
Off-topic:
moonbat here is a protip: Take CharmCityCrab's posts as a challenge to deduce the tl;dr. Identify it and share it but do NOT disect it. It never ends well. If you come to the wrong distilled conclusion.. You will get another chance to practice the skill.
:lol: :lol: :lol:
I don't mind his long-winded style that much actually, he does provoke a lot of debate here :mrgreen:
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Re: How Different Are the Current Firefox and Pale Moon Rendering Engines?

Unread post by CharmCityCrab » 2019-09-11, 18:36

Moonchild wrote:
2019-09-11, 07:38
TL;DR for the above post:
Humans as a whole are very tribal and will act accordingly.
I can vouch for this as an accurate TL;DR.

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Re: How Different Are the Current Firefox and Pale Moon Rendering Engines?

Unread post by CharmCityCrab » 2019-09-11, 19:08

moonbat wrote:
2019-09-11, 07:52
Not since FF also introduced 'e10s' or separate process for each tab.
My impression was that e10 actually was a middle ground between the traditional browser behavior of one process for the entire browser, and of the Chrome behavior of one process per tab. What I thought would happen in practice might be something like "Firefox has 12 tabs open. Four processes are open which control 3 tabs each.". I'm making up numbers there just to try to provide an example of e10 behavior as I thought understand it.

That said, I just ran a field test with Firefox and Windows Task Manager while working on this reply, and the behavior I'm seeing seems to correlate with one process per tab. So, either I was just outright wrong, or they changed it. Could there have been an intermediate stage between one process per browser and one process per tab where the behavior is as described above?
Firefox is on borrowed time anyway, its marketshare continues to slide even faster after throwing out the one feature that people still used it for - full customizability. At some point they will have to end up dumping Gecko for good and going the way of Opera and Edge if they want to survive.
That is a concern for me as well. The second Edge adopted Blink, I suddenly got very worried about a future web that's whatever Google says it is, and where browser choice is only about which logo you prefer on your desktop. This is particularly bothersome because we see Google attempt to move against ad and content blockers every time it has or gets the upperhand anywhere. For example, because people are mostly unaware they have a choice in which browser they use with their phone, Chrome for Android does not support extensions. Now that Chrome for Windows has a a dominant market-share, with some of the larger secondary browsers just being Chromium skins (More or less), Google is rolling out a proposed change to it's extension format that would limit (Albeit not eliminate) ad and content blockers. Tracking and user privacy is another thing we need to worry about the more dominant a market position Google gets because their advertising model depends on the ability to build profiles of individual web users. Safari is actually no better (for some bizarre reason I don't quite understand given it's ownership)- they are moving against ad-blockers already in a much more severe and blatant way than Chrome is, if you can believe it.

All of this, by the way, is also why Pale Moon is important, whether people are currently using it or not. Everyone's non-Blink eggs are in Firefox's basket if not for Pale Moon and maybe one or two other smaller browsers like. Of course, it becomes more of an uphill battle for such browsers to stay compatible with an evolving web if web site owners and the software and services they use just start catering exclusively to Blink and maybe Webkit. Uphill doesn't mean impossible, it's just going to be tough. It's already tough, but it could get even tougher.

I have no intrinsic problem with Google (I use an Android phone and *reluctantly* use Gmail because I was having reliability problems with other email service providers or they didn't provide certain features). However, I do have problems with abusive monopolies, which Google *sometimes* is and which a lack of competition would likely push further in that direction. Some of the stuff they do to favor their own browser is almost unbelievable. MoonChild and Tobin are not making that stuff up either, nor is it an issue that's unique to Pale Moon- I've read other people who maintain small browsers also complain about the same stuff in the same way.
Off-topic:
For my part, I'm going to try convince as many classic addon developers to jump onboard with Pale Moon as I can.
Off-topic:
Good idea! Thanks for doing that for the community surrounding the browser.

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Re: How Different Are the Current Firefox and Pale Moon Rendering Engines?

Unread post by athenian200 » 2019-09-11, 23:33

Firefox is in the process of replacing Gecko with something called Servo, so I would imagine it's actually pretty different. I don't know about the renderer specifically, but while I was porting Pale Moon to Solaris and searching for related patches in Bugzilla, I found that everything up to about Firefox 56/57 is still pretty recognizable, Firefox 60-68 require some careful backporting and sorting through issues that don't apply to Pale Moon because we never implemented the feature that needed the fix, and anything later than that requires you to sift through changelogs to understand where files were moved or reimplemented, or why certain things were eliminated entirely. There is still enough overlap that you can tell they originated from the same codebase, though, no doubt about it.

The Mozilla people have a tendency to reformat their code in Google style (ugh), rewrite various C++ and Javascript files in a different language like Rust or IPDL (I even saw them rewrite something as assembler for performance reasons), and do lots of really dubious things that make the code harder to read or relate back to Pale Moon, but often don't really change the functionality much. I suspect some of them are doing busywork in order to appear more productive than they actually are, while having the side benefit of making life harder for forks without having to actually move to a closed-source model. Open source projects that want to discourage forks are known to do innocuous things like "code refactoring" and such to make sharing code harder while still staying within license requirements.

Another thing that's worth noting is how different Pale Moon is from Firefox 52ESR. Well, that depends on what code you're looking at. If you're looking at the "guts" of Firefox, the assembly code, malloc libraries, event libraries, etc... it's still very much the same code. But if you look at stuff like the JavaScript engine and any kind of security-related or spec-compliance code, you can see that's been improved a lot. They've also fixed bugs with the codebase in ways that aren't as... shall we say, extreme as Mozilla's? Mozilla people often fix a bug by unnecessarily rewriting something entirely or replacing/removing entire files, often introducing new bugs as they fixed the old ones with their overkill. Pale Moon developers often just do what it takes to fix the bug and let the rest of the code around it remain stable.

There's also a third category of changes that neither the Pale Moon team nor the Firefox team can fully take credit for: updating upstream libraries/packages to newer versions. I'm talking about NSS, SQLite, NSPR, and stuff like that. A lot of applications rely on those libraries, so their external interfaces can't change as fast as the Firefox code, and when things do change, every other application that relies on it is affected so they can all compare notes on how to deal with the changes.

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Re: How Different Are the Current Firefox and Pale Moon Rendering Engines?

Unread post by Isengrim » 2019-09-12, 01:25

athenian200 wrote:
2019-09-11, 23:33
The Mozilla people have a tendency to reformat their code in Google style (ugh), rewrite various C++ and Javascript files in a different language like Rust or IPDL (I even saw them rewrite something as assembler for performance reasons), and do lots of really dubious things that make the code harder to read or relate back to Pale Moon, but often don't really change the functionality much. I suspect some of them are doing busywork in order to appear more productive than they actually are, while having the side benefit of making life harder for forks without having to actually move to a closed-source model. Open source projects that want to discourage forks are known to do innocuous things like "code refactoring" and such to make sharing code harder while still staying within license requirements.
Most of us that have taken some sort of look into the Mozilla codebase can agree, 100%. They like to refactor things so they can point and say "Look, we implemented the latest features, we're still relevant!". And I'm sure code churn also plays a large part into the "open opaqueness" that Google and other big tech corps are so fond of, as you've pointed out. For those of us who believe in the spirit of Free and Open Source Software, it's infuriating to see people do this, intentionally or otherwise.
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Re: How Different Are the Current Firefox and Pale Moon Rendering Engines?

Unread post by moonbat » 2019-09-12, 02:03

Isengrim wrote:
2019-09-12, 01:25
athenian200 wrote:
2019-09-11, 23:33
The Mozilla people have a tendency to reformat their code in Google style (ugh), rewrite various C++ and Javascript files in a different language like Rust or IPDL (I even saw them rewrite something as assembler for performance reasons), and do lots of really dubious things that make the code harder to read or relate back to Pale Moon, but often don't really change the functionality much. I suspect some of them are doing busywork in order to appear more productive than they actually are, while having the side benefit of making life harder for forks without having to actually move to a closed-source model. Open source projects that want to discourage forks are known to do innocuous things like "code refactoring" and such to make sharing code harder while still staying within license requirements.
Most of us that have taken some sort of look into the Mozilla codebase can agree, 100%. They like to refactor things so they can point and say "Look, we implemented the latest features, we're still relevant!". And I'm sure code churn also plays a large part into the "open opaqueness" that Google and other big tech corps are so fond of, as you've pointed out. For those of us who believe in the spirit of Free and Open Source Software, it's infuriating to see people do this, intentionally or otherwise.
This attitude of drastically throwing away old code is in their DNA, going back to the Netscape days. Had posted this contemporary piece before, about how throwing away old code was the death knell of Netscape, at a time when they were already lagging behind IE in terms of marketshare. IE5.5 wiped the floor with Netscape 4.5 (then current), and 5 took so long they changed the version to 6, and by the time it was out it was horribly buggy and too late for anything. As Joel says, code doesn't rust, and you're throwing away accumulated knowledge along with it.
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