Top 20 Tech Underdogs

1. Mozilla Firefox

What it is: An open-source Web browser based on the code that originated with Netscape Navigator, the most popular browser of the mid-1990s.

Underdog to

: Microsoft's Internet Explorer, the default browser on Windows PCs and still the browser with the largest market share by far.

Notable virtues: Simple to use; thousands of extensions make it amazingly customizable; impervious to an array of hacker attacks that target IE weaknesses; excellent support for Web standards; boasts innovative features such as the AwesomeBar. Also -- and this is why it's our #1 underdog -- it performed an enormous service to the Internet-using people of the world by rebooting browser competition years after it seemed that IE would reach as close to 100% market share as it's possible for an application to achieve.

What makes it an underdog: It started out feeling like an extreme underdog, since IE's marketshare was so monopolistic and other attempts to compete with it (such as the earlier incarnations of Mozilla) had flopped. Even today, it's an underdog-it has a long way to go before its market share surpasses IE's, and even highly successful open-source projects must rely on the work of volunteers.

Random factoid: Firefox was originally going to be called Phoenix. Then trademark issues forced Mozilla to redub it Firebird. Then further copyright issues led to it becoming Firefox-a much, much better name than either Phoenix or Firebird.

There you go. Let the debate begin..

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