Starting next month, Microsoft will begin automatically upgrading some Windows users to the latest version of Internet Explorer available for their PCs, the Redmond software juggernaut announced in a blog post today. These silent updates are deemed an "important step in helping to move the Web forward," though consider this a trial run.
At the rate things were going, it was only a matter of time before Google's Chrome browser skipped ahead of Mozilla Firefox, and according to at least one Web analytics company, it's finally happened. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who's paid attention to the browser market. Chrome has been gaining ground ever since it was released, while Firefox long appeared to plateau, and even fall back a step a time or two.
With few exceptions, Microsoft's share of the browser market has been steadily declining since at least November 2009, which is how far back Net Marketshare lets us look. Back then, Microsoft's Internet Explorer was the dominant browser on desktops with a 64.46 percent share. And today? It's still dominant with a 52.63 percent share of the market, but the gap is quickly narrowing.
Apparently Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser leads the pack in more ways than just market share. With regards to IE9, socially engineered malware (SEM) barely has a chance of wreaking havoc, according to a study put together by NSS Labs. The study's data has IE9 way out in front of all other browsers tested with a better than 99 percent protection rate.
While we may question the sanity of anybody still clunking around the Web with the decade-old Internet Explorer 6 – even Microsoft wants that dinosaur to die – we wouldn't go as far as to say that the people who use IE are stupid. That didn't stop AptiQuant Psychometric Consulting from doing it, though. Last week, the group released a report that claimed that IE users had the lowest collective IQ of users of any browser. Stop chuckling, "Like"-clicking Chrome and Firefox fans – it turns out we're the idiots. The whole thing was probably a hoax.
Every month we examine the state of the browser market in terms of market share, and it's usually more of the same. Internet Explorer, while still dominating with over a 50 percent share, slides downward month after month. Firefox, still the biggest threat to IE if looking at the numbers and not the trend, also continues to lose market share, but at a much slower pace. And Chrome, which popularized the concept of a minimalistic browser interface, just keeps gaining ground. While all this has been going on, Apple's Safari browser has been closing in on the big three.
It's funny to think back when Google first launched its Chrome browser, a simplistic window to the Web that didn't look like any other browser out there. The minimalistic interface caught surfers off guard, and the lack of support for third party extensions was, to many, a deal killer. And today? Google's Chrome browser is, in many ways, the model browser that others have started to emulate, and it might eventually become the most used browser on the planet.
Microsoft this week rolled out a second preview of its Internet Explorer 10 browser. Like the first, IE10 Platform Preview 2 is primarily intended to give Web developers and designers an early look at the upcoming features so they can prepare accordingly. Outside of a handful of demos, there isn't much for the average user to play around with -- it doesn't even ship with a URL bar -- but it does reveal that Microsoft appears to be on the right track.
Stuck in the shackles of a subpar browsing experience because your boss swears by the robust feature set offered in IE6? Want IE9's HTML5 support, but can't get it because your company's still using Windows XP? Google wants to help. They've offered the "Chrome Frame" plug-in for older versions of IE as a technological band-aid for years, but you've always needed admin privileges to install it. Not anymore – the newest Chrome Frame iteration bypasses the need for admin rights entirely, allowing tech-savvy corporate computers users to give the middle finger to IT departments throughout the world.
We're still trying to get used to the look and feel of Internet Explorer 9, and if Microsoft was in the same mindset as it was in 2001, we'd have 5 years to play around with it before Redmond would release a new browser. Apparently Microsoft is officially over its malaise in the browser wars, and lest you don't believe it, the world's largest software maker just unveiled the first platform preview of Internet Explorer 10 at Microsoft's MIX11 conference.