The short answer is that it is the default search engine of Internet Explorer. This outage made people realize, at least for 40 minutes, that there are tools out there other than Microsoft.
The claim that Microsoft has majority market share within the browser market is a myth that I have been silently collecting data to debunk. In this post I will reveal some of the reasons I see this as true and discuss the Bing/Internet Explorer market share connection. When you ask people what is the best browser, people seem to vote for Firefox hands-down. Yet, month after month, browser market share reports come out and the results are all over the charts but always in favour of Internet Explorer. The Counter reports just shy of 70%. W3counter reports just a little north of 51%. Meanwhile, “Market Share” by Net Applications reports 63.63% for November yet it has been shedding 1% for many months now. The Counter, W3Counter, and Market Share by Net Applications are analytics services that tell website owners who is visiting their site.
Quick tanget and un-paid endourcement…
Only W3Counter offers this service cost-free as only as you have only one site to watch that get less than 5,000 page views a day. Since W3counter is so accessible to anybody with a website, I declared W3Counter the official market share report of this blog. I was so impressed that I opted to pay for their pro $39.95 per 6 month account even though I already pre-paid for two years of Google Analytics. I prefer the way that W3Counter parses the data for me and how it integrates well with WordPress, the open source blogging software that runs whatwillweuse.com. If you are using anything else other than W3Counter, please give them a try.
OK, back to Internet Explorer and Bing.
A common market share assertion I hear when it comes to operating system and web browser market share is “Microsoft’s market share is high because that is what came with the computer and people do not switch due to interia.”
People just use what is there. To a certain extent, I will have to agree with that point. But if most people just used what Microsoft put in front of them, I would expect far more than 8% search market share out of Bing, the default search on Internet Explorer. Yahoo! Fiance reports that Bing’s market share is shrinking. Why would people choose to not use a product that they did not have to pay for and is delivered to them from the very first time they turn on their computer?
Change is risky and fearsome, especially those new to computer. Despite the fact that Internet Explorer 6 is an eight years old browser, 12.57% of the web browsing population still uses it. That is why Internet Explorer 6 has one thing going for it though, those with Windows XP have had it installed by default. A Vista system that keeps up with patches runs Internet Explorer 8 and this is why it has a respectable market share at 21.21%. Meanwhile there are 17.36 running Internet Explorer 7. I do not know how Microsoft can deliver a competitve free as in cost product while maintaining all of these versions. Even though Microsoft is working on releasing Internet Explorer 9, they are obligated to continue to support Internet Explorer 6, a product. Together these numbers add up to 51.14% although only 8 percent, and shrinking, are using IE browser’s default search engine.
I assert three things given the interita theory…
1. Microsoft Internet Explorer users are primarily using Google and Yahoo! instead. When they visit http://www.google.com they are greeted with an invitation to download Chrome. At least 2% will take Google up on the offer and push Internet Explorer below 50% in less than three months.
2. Perhaps 8% bing usage is a reflection of how many people prefer Microsoft’s products, given the choice. Maybe these Internet Explorer users are small businesses who lack full time IT staff who have permission to install software like web browsers. They may use Internet Explorer in the office because they have to but at home they use Firefox because they want to. Web analytics services that release market share reports will give more merit to the 8 hours of the day that people have opportuntiy to use the browser at their desk instead of the 3 hours of the day they might be able to use their browser at home. This would also explain why people overwhelmingly vote for Firefox when asked about their browser of choice yet market share reports continute to favour Internet Explorer.
3. Those 8% loyal Microsoft customers saw Microsoft not deliver a service that they are pouring millions of dollars in American TV ads to support. They were left asking themselves the question, “what will we use?” and the answer, according to Internet Explorer and Bing, was Yahoo!
Come February 28, 2010, Microsoft will no longer have browser market share.