Microsoft IE isn’t the best browser, but it’s still the leader, says Don Reisinger. What has to happen before business users take up Firefox, Chrome or Safari in bigger numbers?
A recent StatCounter report revealed an interesting shift in the browser market. According to the research firm, both Internet Explorer 6 and Internet Explorer 7 are losing market share at an astounding rate, while Internet Explorer 8 and Firefox 3 are gaining ground.
StatCounter’s research found Internet Explorer 7 now enjoys 30.6 percent of the market, while Internet Explorer 6 controls 8.7 percent. The latest version, Internet Explorer 8 (read our review) now holds 15.4 percent of the browser market.
Microsoft still dominates
All told, Microsoft’s three most recent browser releases have captured almost 55 percent of the entire browser market. Compare that to Mozilla’s Firefox browser (read our Firefox 3.5 review), which now controls 27.7 percent of the market, as well as browsers from Google, Opera, and Apple, which have yet to climb out of single digits, and it becomes clear that Microsoft is still far ahead in the browser space.
But how long that might last is up for debate. Just last year, Microsoft owned 78 percent of the browser market. Mozilla’s Firefox browser had 18.2 percent market share. In just over six months, that browser has been able to capture a significant portion of the space, while Microsoft has lost some of its influence.
It might get worse. After losing an antitrust battle, Microsoft won’t even ship Internet Explorer in European editions of its Windows 7 operating system.
And with new security issues arising almost every week against Internet Explorer, some IT managers are realising that having employees use Internet Explorer might not be the best option. Although Internet Explorer 8 is an admittedly robust browser, it’s still less appealing than it should be.
But does that really matter? Even though Google’s Chrome browser is faster than Internet Explorer (Chrome 2.0 review), Apple’s Safari 4 browser is more lightweight, and Firefox contains all the elements it takes to be a fine browser for business customers, most companies are still using Microsoft software to surf the Web.
Part of that might be due to company-specific applications that need Internet Explorer to run, but it might also be because of convenience. Since Windows PCs ship with Internet Explorer installed, it doesn’t take much to get employees online. And considering most of them use Internet Explorer at home, asking them to use a browser they’re familiar with is much easier than training them on Firefox, Chrome or any other browser.