Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Bill Thompson on Firefox

Bill Thompson is a technology analyst (he was at NotCon last year, which I sadly missed). He regularly writes a column over at BBC News Online, and this week’s is about Firefox, and indeed open source software in general. On the whole he comes out in favour of Firefox, saying that it being open source makes it more secure (and why this is the case), and how it has enjoyed success lately.
But one paragraph got my goat a bit:

In fact the little red button that tells you a “critical” update is available appears almost weekly, sending users off to the website to get the new version and fix yet another bug or security hole.

Erm, no Bill, it isn’t. The red button that tells you a “critical” update is available has only appeared 3 times since the release of Firefox 1.0 in November last year, for versions 1.0.1, 1.0.2 and 1.0.3 respectively. That’s hardly weekly, and while I’d admit 1.0.3 did follow 1.0.2 quite quickly, there was nearly a month between the two.
Update: There’s an article over at SpreadFirefox about factually inaccurate stories in the media.
Update II Bill has now admitted that the original article was wrong – see this entry.


  1. He possibly has some extensions installed. The bloglines extension particularly seems to have rather annoyingly frequent updates. And as far as i’ve been able to make out they don’t appear to change much ever.

  2. I’ve been using Firefox as my main browser since 0.7, and have updated it and my extensions regularly.
    I actually feel much safer that there are frequent updates, unlike IE which is just once a month (with a load of security issues still open on Secunia etc still needing patches).

  3. Actually the icon shown by updates to extensions is green, not red. 🙂 I probably should have added that to the original article.

  4. Hi there – I think that you’re right that I’ve overstated it… five computers in the house, kids machines to look after, so I’ve been seeing a lot of red buttons… I’ll ask my editor to change the article on the BBC website. It’s important to get the details right so that the larger point gets through.

  5. The Bugs Don’t Matter

    [You can read this on the BBC News website too]
    The Firefox browser is full of bugs, some of them rather serious.
    Back in March the Danish security firm Secunia reported that it had found eight, some of which could be used to trick users into givin…