It is rare when a company celebrates a drop in marketshare for one of its products with a big cake. That’s precisely what Microsoft did when it announced that the US marketshare for Internet Explorer 6 dropped to less than 1 percent.
In this case, the celebration might be warranted. IE 6 has been hanging around Microsoft’s neck like a dead Firefox for years. Finally, the company has pretty much destroyed it everywhere (outside of China and, to a lesser extent, Korea). As this .net magazine article says, the only Americans who use IE 6 are “utter die-hards and very unfortunate people.” Still, while Microsoft was telling us that “friends don’t let friends use Internet Explorer 6,” it had no guarantee that we would switch to IE 8 or 9.
So, we at E2 want to know. Did Microsoft’s almost maniacal decision to destroy its own product drive you to another browser? Did you go to IE9? Chrome? Firefox? Or were you already an IE ex-pat?
The most generous count of IE’s worldwide marketshare is 52 percent, as counted by NetMarketShare. In 2004, it was almost 92 percent. Chrome is the latest serious challenge, and by some accounts, it is now the second-most used browser in the country. The growth is fast and impressive, considering that the Google offering is less than four years old.
Of course, this isn’t just about corporate scorekeeping. The search wars are essentially taking place on browsers. Microsoft’s Bing grabbed double-digit marketshare rather quickly but is now essentially frozen at 15 percent in the US (and even less worldwide). If given enough time, Microsoft’s IE advantage could slowly erode Google’s stranglehold on the search market. A healthy Chrome could fend off the challenge and possibly finish off IE.
In the meantime, companies that rely increasingly on the Internet to sell everything and use Web apps for business are forced to try to optimize their Websites for a muddled browser environment. The onetime value of IE 6 -- that everyone knew exactly what their Website would look like on every computer -- is gone. It has been replaced with the frustrating days of page-loading errors, crashes, slow page loads, and unoptimized designs.
The reviews of current IE and Chrome products are positive, but Firefox is struggling with complaints about fast updates and too many errors. Despite the technology community’s love of Firefox, this is beginning to shape up as a two-horse race with more at stake than just browsers.
What browser are you using now, and why? Take the poll, and tell us more about it below.