Archive for February 24th, 2009

Browser Wars & Windows 7

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

The past few months have seen some interesting developments regarding browser usage and competition between Internet Explorer, Mozilla FireFox and Google Chrome.  To give a bit of information into the background of this, Internet explorer has been the most popular browser for around a decade, and its largest rival has been FireFox, which has steadily increased its market share to around 20% over the past few years.  The success of FireFox has been helped by the support of Google, but this has ceased since the release of Google’s own browser, Chrome.  Google has high hopes for chrome and competition between the three browsers is now very fierce.

It is generally acknowledged that the success of Internet Explorer, is not a result of the browser’s performance but is largely due to the fact that it is the default browser supplied with Windows, which is by far the most common operating system in use today. The majority of people do not feel the need to change from one browser to another and brand awareness for FireFox and especially Chrome, is relatively low when compared to Internet Explorer.

Recently, however, the European Commission has brought an anti-trust law suit to Microsoft, claiming that the sole inclusion of Internet Explorer with Windows is unfairly creating a monopoly and damaging competition and consumer choice. The outcome of this lawsuit could see Windows 7 being shipped with multiple browsers, including FireFox, Chrome and even Safari.

If Windows 7 is shipped with multiple browsers, it will create a level playing field and will have a huge effect on the market share of each browser.  It is difficult to predict which browser will be the most successful as each have different strengths.  Market share for Internet explorer will definitely decrease but it may remain the most popular browser on the strength of its familiarity. Chrome is a new browser and most people are still unaware of its existence.  However, it is a Google product and is likely to be well trusted as a result.  FireFox is popular among more Internet savvy people, is highly customisable and has stood the test of time.

Windows 7 is due for release within the next three months and, depending on the outcome of the law suit, may have the biggest single influence on the browser wars to date.