Technology as a way of life

Life is the art of drawing without an eraser...

With Internet Explorer 8 now available, can Microsoft hope to retain market dominance over fierce open source rivals such as Mozilla FireFox or the feature packed Opera web browser

FireFox was the browser that grew and grew in these years. Every year capturing an even larger market share percentage than before. More user friendly than most of its rivals along with high security levels and arguably more intelligent programming helped its popularity. With such a large programming community behind it, updates have always been regular and add on programs/features are often released. It prides itself on being the peoples browser. It currently has a 28.38% market share.

Apple computers have had their own browser since the mid 1990's – Safari - complete with its own problems, such as (until recently) the inability to run Java scripts. However most Apple users seemed happy with it and a version capable of running on Windows has been released. It has had no major competitor on Apple Macs, and as such has largely been out of the Browser Wars. It currently holds a 2.54% market share and is slowly increasing.

Internet Explorer's market share has dropped from over 90% to around 75%, and is falling. It will be interesting to see what Microsoft will attempt to regain such a high market share.

The Future of Web Browsing

Web browsers come and go. It is the nature of technology (if such a term can be used), to supplant inferior software in very short periods of time. It is almost impossible for a single company to stay ahead of the competition for long. Microsoft have the advantage of being able to release IE with any Windows using PC. That covers over 90% of the market. They also have the advantage of unprecedented resources. They can compete how they wish for as long as they wish. So there is no counting IE out of the future of web browsing.

Safari is in a similar position, being easily the most popular Mac web browser. Its long term survival is dependent upon Apple and the sale of their computers.

These are the only two browsers that are almost guaranteed another five years of life, at least. FireFox may seem like another candidate, but the public is fickle, and one bad release, or if it seriously lags behind the new Internet Explorer 8 for long, could easily see its popularity quickly descend into virtual oblivion.

However, it seems likely community driven browsers, such as Mozilla and FireFox, will be the only types of browser capable of competing with the wealthy Internet arm of Microsoft in the near future.

As for web browsing itself, will it change any time soon? Well it already has for some online communities. For example, if you want to buy clothes you could try entering an online 'world' creating an online virtual You to go from 'shop to shop' with, looking at products and trying/buying what you see. Some 'worlds' allow you to recreate yourself accurately including weight and height and then try on things apparel such as jeans to give you an idea of how you would look in that particular item.

Mozilla FireFox's market share has grown for each growth period since inception, mostly at the expense of Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer has seen a steady decline of its usage share since FireFox's release. By early 2008, Firefox had approximately 15% global usage share of web browsers. Market shares break down as following: 43% for Internet Explorer 7, 30% for Internet Explorer 6, 18% for Firefox 2.0, 4% for Safari 3.0, and less than half a percent for both Firefox 1.x and Internet Explorer 5.x versions.

The user market needs something "fresh" and "out-of-the-box" thinking right now...
  • Firefox is very close to that with the new "FireFox3" with better RSS support, search, security fixes and lots of useful plugins.
  • Opera 9.5 doesn't seem to have much improvements for the "Web 2.0 standard"
  • Internet Explorer 8 well... not even bugfixes over the previous versions and many websites look strange or out of place when it's used. They rely on the fact that many people don't know how or are "afraid" of a change.
We shall live and see what will happen in the end...


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