March 2010 will prove to be a critical month in ending Microsoft’s chances of having majority browser market share. All of the sudden, people world wide will be asking themselves, “What will we use?”
I believe that every person should be free to choose a browser. How did I choose not to use Internet Explorer?
On my first internet computer, I used Mosaic as a web browser in 1993. In the 1990s I also tried AOL’s browser but Netscape Communicator was my favourite. By the end of the decade, I was using Mozilla on Linux causally. Through the mid-2000’s Windows 9x would be my primary desktop where I used Netscape/Mozilla/Firefox until my husband gave me an Apple.
Admittedly, I have not used Opera and Safari since 2003. I was using MacOSX on the desktop at the time and there was no definitive browser king for that platform at the time. I tried Internet Explorer and Firefox for the Mac too. As I recall, I ditched Opera because its no-cost product was Adware. Commercials would display in a panel taking up valuable screen real-estate and bandwidth. On that system, Safari was my favourite browser for a few months because it was the only one with tab support. Soon after, Firefox released tab support and I was back home with the Netscape/Mozilla based browsers. There were no features with Internet Explorer worth holding my attention. For the most part since 2005, I have faithfully using Firefox.
I do want to tip my hat to two other browsers: Safari and Opera.
Apple products, Safari is no exception, have aesthetics in mind. I’m sure some people appreciate its integration with Itunes. Due to it’s lack of Linux version, however, I have not even tried the Apple browser since 2005 when my MacOSX system died. Even so, I understand why people enjoy Safari. While the entire Safari browser is not open source, the core components known as Webkit are open source. have been re-implemented as Konquerer and Epiphany by KDE and GNOME. Quite honestly, I wonder if these browsers are mistaken for Safari in market share counters. Either way, Apple benefits from the code they do write and the code they did not directly sponsor to make the Safari product.
Are you paying attention Microsoft? Since you do not sell Internet Explorer as a product, why do you hold onto the code? Learn from your competitor Apple. This is how you can leverage open source to maintain relevance now that your browser is no longer holding the majority of market share.
Microsoft does not have a monopoly in the proprietary browser space. Opera, the browser that I have not as much as blinked at since 2003 is alive and well. Apparently, they are the fastest mobile web browser – a market where Microsoft suffers. Business at Opera is good since they have figured out how to monetize. Also paying the bills for Opera is Nintendo who have partnered web browsing product for Wii and DSi called the Internet Channel. While Microsoft makes console browsing difficult, Nintendo keeps their customers happy Too bad for Microsoft who can not get past the vaporware stage when it comes to launching their own portable game system, let alone porting IE for it.
While Microsoft is teasing us with the idea that they MIGHT think about working with open web standards when they release IE9, Opera has been pushing for open standards for quite some time now. Recently, the Opera folks have gstreamer and promoting .ogg which is a huge win for anyone who believes in free content.
Seriously, Microsoft, people do not prefer your browser. This has been true for years. Web developers don’t want to support IE6 as of last March. They’ve banded together to bring down IE6 and now Microsoft has to listen. With end-of-life as of June 2010, Microsoft can no longer count IE6 as part of this market share. Even with NetApplications which continues to claim majority market share for IE, take out the IE6/5 and Microsoft only has 36.09% browser market share. Users will not upgrade from IE6 to another Microsoft product. Your market share tanks at the rate of 3% a quarter. Now that Europe is given a choice, Microsoft does not have a prayer of holding onto significant browser market share. Its all over this March for Microsoft web browsers, Google said so.
Whatever Microsoft ends up doing about the browser, all I can say is, “it is your funeral.”
Come June 30, 2011, Microsoft will lack Office Suite and Operating System market share.