Mozilla president kicks Ballmer, trashes DRM, quotes Spiderman

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INTERVIEW: Tristan Nitot, president of Mozilla Europe, is a disarmingly casual guy, especially over a good lunch in a high-class London restaurant. But despite the relaxed delivery, he doesn’t pull his punches.

Nitot is co-founder (with Peter Van der Beken) and president of Mozilla Europe, a non-profit organization whose goal is to develop and promote its open source software and, increasingly, that of others. He previously worked on the Netscape project for more than seven years. He is also founder of OpenWebGroup initiative.

Nitot is passionate about what he sees as Microsoft’s opposition to the Internet’s development when it stopped development of the Internet Explorer browser for five years after 2001. He believes this acted as a serious barrier to the development of the Web in general, not just the open source movement.

“IE was getting more and more obsolete in development terms. The Internet was stalling because of this,” he says. It was technologies like Netscape’s Netcaster, which acted as the core of what became RSS that helped open up the Web again.

But Mozilla’s Firefox itself has come in for criticism. The next version of the Firefox browser will be 3.0. How does he react to criticisms that Firefox is slowly becoming bloated?

“No, Firefox is getting speedier and speedier. Developers ask for new applications inside Firefox all the time but the early Mozilla Suite of 2003 – which wrapped up a browser, email client, HMTL editor and IRC all in one – showed that it was often too complicated a proposition for the Internet user.”

He says Mozilla is working hard at finding a balance: “We don’t want to incorporate features for the sake of features – only where it makes sense for the user experience.”
How does he view Apple’s Safari (a strategy Apple came up with long before Mozilla had got its act together with Firefox)?

“My dream is that they eventually pick the Mozilla / Gecko / Webkit combination and give up Safari,” he says. “We see Safari and Firefox as allies in bringing diversity to the Web.”

Later he goes further: “We are not against Microsoft, but we are against Microsoft’s monopoly [of the browser market].”

So is Steve Ballmer a block on innovation at Microsoft? “Could be, yes,” says Nitot with a smile.

He relates his view – held by many – that Microsoft’s attack of the web is directly related to the threat the Web poses to its desktop applications, as evidenced in recent times by Zoho and Google’s apps.

But has he heard of the Blue Monster movement inside Microsoft to engage better with the open source community (also at Gaping Void)?

In a word, no. But Nitot does recognise the sentiment: “My perception is that at the lower levels of Microsoft, there are people who are just like me. They understand the Net and the power of Web standards. They understand that, as Spiderman says, with great power comes great responsibility.”

Does he extend his belief in open source to the open sourcing of content as well as code? What does he think about DRM?

“I don’t think DRM has a future. Treating your customers like thieves is bad business practice. Today the customer is not ‘king’, they are considered thief first.”

He relates a story about his young son being visibly upset by a DRM-enabled music CD which would not play on his older model HiFi.
“It is stupid to think that the key to a DRM system won’t leak. So if it becomes more painful for a legitimate customer to use a product than it is for the pirates then that’s a problem,” he says.

And the future for Mozilla? Nitot believes there will be greater emphasis put on embedded Mozilla code into both mobile devices and ones for the developing world like the OLPC.

Nitot – replete with smile – will be appearing next at the Mozilla 24 event where Mozilla will hold a global conference via beaming in speakers and audiences globally.

  • Alejandro Barrera

    Just as a side note and bear in mind that this aren’t my benchmarks, but the last thing I know about FF 3.0 is that it isn’t very speedy compared to its previous major release: http://nontroppo.org/timer/kestrel_tests/

    These benchmarks are done with the FF 3 alpha, and I do hope it gets better before they release the final version.

  • http://www.redmonk.com/jgovernor/2007/09/13/links-for-2007-09-13/ James Governor’s Monkchips » links for 2007-09-13

    […] TechCrunch UK » Blog Archive » Mozilla president kicks Ballmer, trashes DRM, quotes Spiderman that is not what the blue monster is, Mike. (tags: microsoft OSS bluemonster) […]

  • http://metropix.typepad.com Max Christian

    His comments belong to a bygone age of about 18 months ago. He should read more Microsoft blogs to keep up to date with the enemy: open source AJAX tools, fabulous support for development in platform-neutral languages (Javascript, CSS, dynamic languages), improving standards compliance in IE7, no more ActiveX, Silverlight in Mozilla and on Mac & Linux, and so on.

    Microsoft were virulently anti-Internet for a long time (I contributed Mozilla code myself during that time) but things are changing quickly.

  • http://standblog.org/ Tristan

    @Alejandro: Mozilla is working really hard to improve Firefox 3 speediness. We all understand that it’s important.

    @Max: I have friends at Microsoft, and they tell me that Microsoft is changing. My understanding is that there is a fight inside Microsoft between those who want to focus on the Office+Windows cash cows that make the numbers but is slowly dying, while some other employees understand the importance of the Internet (but it’s far from profitable). Both camps are fighting hard to control the future of Microsoft, and I don’t know who’s going to win. (Hint: those who make the numbers have an advantage…). Also, Silverlight, even if it runs in Firefox and on Linux (but for how long?) is proprietary technology, not the Open Web where users can use the technology stack of their choice to render documents and apps.

  • http://standblog.org/ Tristan

    Mike: there is a slight mistake here. “How does he view Apple’s Safari (a strategy Apple came up with long before Mozilla had got its act together with Firefox)?

    “My dream is that they eventually pick the Mozilla / Gecko / Webkit combination and give up Safari,” he says.”

    I dream of *microsoft* (not Apple) dropping their Trident brwoser engine and use an open-source, modern engine such as WebKit, KHTML, or preferably Gecko (from Mozilla).

  • http://ask.com Max

    if the US management of the Mozilla Foundation spoke french, this guy would have been fired a long time ago for all the FUD he’s spreading in his country.(and smilin)

    Lucky him.

  • http://www.techiteasy.org Jeremy

    It’s not Spiderman who said “With Great Power comes Great Responsibility” but Uncle Ben, the uncle of Peter Parker.

    Here’s the full quote: “This guy, Flash Thompson, he probably deserved what happened. But just because you can beat him up doesn’t give you the right to. Remember, with great power, comes great responsibility. “

  • http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/09/15/firefox-isnt-bloated-drm-will-die-mozilla-europe-ceo/ Firefox Isn’t Bloated, DRM Will Die: Mozilla Europe CEO

    […] UK’s Michael Butcher has an exclusive interview up with Mozilla Europe CEO Tristan Nitot that covers Firefox, DRM and […]

  • http://www.deepjiveinterests.com/2007/09/16/mozilla-prez-insults-intelligence-of-firefox-users-worldwide-denies-bloat-in-firefox/ Deep Jive Interests » Mozilla Prez Insults Intelligence Of Firefox Users Worldwide, Denies Bloat In Firefox.

    […] in a recent interview with TechCrunch UK has gone on — amongst other things — to deny that there is any bloat in Firefox.  In fact, its getting “speedier and […]

  • http://fr.techcrunch.com/2007/09/16/le-ceo-de-mozilla-europe-firefox-toujours-performant-drm-ne-durera-pas/ TechCrunch en français » Le CEO de Mozilla Europe: Firefox toujours performant, DRM ne durera pas

    […] lire sur Techrunch UK, un entretien exclusif avec Tristan Nitot, CEO Europe de Mozilla. Il parle de Firefox, de DRM et de […]

  • http://northerndialogue.blogspot.com Erkko

    Mozilla mobile plans need to start moving faster, or they will be giving competition too much of a gap in the next most important browser war.

  • http://uk.techcrunch.com/2007/09/17/microsoft-bank-rolls-blue-monster-wine/ TechCrunch UK » Blog Archive » Microsoft bank-rolls Blue Monster wine

    […] the head of Mozilla Europe castigated Microsoft’s attitude to Open Source and innovation in a TechCrunch interview, Microsoft today launches its own-label wine designed to promote innovation inside the […]

  • http://www.infolanka.com/cgi-bin/forum/YaBB.cgi?num=1177710280 jack

    DRM is crap – MP3 and MP4 is the future – both now and in the future.

  • http://simplifiedtech.wordpress.com/2007/09/17/mozilla-president-kicks-ballmer-trashes-drm-quotes-spiderman/ Mozilla president kicks Ballmer, trashes DRM, quotes Spiderman « irrevocable stuff

    […] read more | digg story   […]

  • http://nstanosheck.wordpress.com/2007/09/17/mozilla-president-kicks-ballmer-trashes-drm-quotes-spiderman/ Mozilla president kicks Ballmer, trashes DRM, quotes Spiderman « This too was Dugg by …

    […] read more | digg story 豪杰 @ 1:15 pm [filed under Uncategorized […]

  • Brandon Patton

    Not bloated! Please, be realistic. Firefox is slower than SAFARI! And I hate Safari!

  • Amby

    “DRM is crap – MP3 and MP4 is the future – both now and in the future.”

    OGG, Theora and FLAC are the future. Mp3/4 are history.

  • http://www.yardley.ca/dash/2007/09/17/happy-with-camino/ yardley.ca / dash » Happy with Camino

    […] reading this TechCrunch post, which sums up this interview with Mozilla Europe’s CEO, I’m left shaking my head. Guys, Firefox crashed on me so […]

  • http://www.befox.be/2007/09/17/interview-du-president-de-mozilla-europe-chez-les-anglophones/ BeFox » Interview du président de Mozilla Europe chez les anglophones

    […] l’interview complète sur TechCrunch. Partager —  Imprimer — RSS des commentaires — Rétrolien Pour […]

  • Uncle Ben

    Spiderman never said that! I’m the one who did.. right before he entered the street fighting ring where the son of bitch left the robber scape and kill me afterwards..

  • http://www.mkoby.com/2007/09/17/links-for-2007-09-18/ links for 2007-09-18 - Almost, Not Yet by Michael Koby

    […] Mozilla president kicks Ballmer, trashes DRM, quotes Spiderman “Tristan Nitot, president of Mozilla Europe, is a disarmingly casual guy, especially over a good lunch in a high-class London restaurant. But despite the relaxed delivery, he doesn’t pull his punches.” (tags: digg Linux/Unix Technology) Like this Article? Subscribe […]

  • http://standblog.org/ Tristan

    Great news for those who want to know more about Firefox memory management and what Mozilla is doing about it. Firefox developer Jesse Ruderman just posted the following information:

    http://www.squarefree.com/2007/09/20/firefox-memory-usage-and-memory-leak-news/

    You can even help making Firefox better in terms of memory management!

  • http://jordev.net/blogs/technews/archive/2007/09/20/microsoft-approves-blue-monster-wine.aspx Microsoft News and Technology : Microsoft approves Blue Monster wine

    […] after the head of Mozilla Europe castigated Microsoft’s attitude to Open Source and innovation in a TechCrunch interview, Microsoft today launches its own-label wine designed to promote innovation inside the […]

  • http://www.interfce.com/?p=183 <blog> interfce.com </blog> » Blog Archive » So is Steve Ballmer a block on innovation at Microsoft?…
  • http://www.webmaster-source.com/2007/09/22/blogbuzz-september-22-2007/ BlogBuzz September 22, 2007 » Webmaster-Source

    […] Mozilla presidents kicks Ballmer, trashes DRM, quotes Spiderman. […]

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