Mozilla's Firefox web browser is celebrating its ninth birthday today. Version 1.0 debuted way back on November 9, 2004, as a standalone browser alternative to the bloated Mozilla Suite which consisted of Navigator (web browser), Communicator (Mozilla mail and newsgroups), a web page creator (Mozilla Composer), an IRC client (ChatZilla) and an address book.

Mozilla announced plans to shift their focus from the Mozilla Suite to Firefox and Thunderbird in April 2003 but it wasn't smooth sailing from the get-go. The browser project was originally known as Phoenix but was forced to change its name to Firebird due to trademark disputes with Phoenix Technologies. Of course, Firebird wasn't a popular selection either as it drew criticism from the Firebird free database software project.

Finally, in February 2004, the foundation decided on the name Mozilla Firefox, or more commonly referred to simply as Firefox. Following its debut later that year, Firefox soon became a serious competitor to Microsoft's Internet Explorer as it garnered 100 million downloads in its first year. By 2009, the browser had been downloaded over a billion times.

At present, Firefox is the second or third most popular browser in the world depending on which stats you follow. For example, social analytics firm Shareaholic recently proclaimed Google Chrome as the top web browser in the world at 34.68 percent market share with Firefox coming in second place at 16.60 percent. StatCounter, meanwhile, ranks Internet Explorer ahead of Firefox by nearly 10 percent.

What is your web browser of choice these days?