Perhaps inconceivable just a few short years ago, it now seems inevitable that Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser won't hold onto its market share lead forever, and could fall to Firefox within the next 24 months or so. We say this because IE has been trending backwards in market share numbers, at least up until now.
Microsoft can breathe a sigh of relief in June, even if only for one month. For the first time in a long time, the world's most popular browser (in market share) increased its usage, stopping what's long been a slow, albeit steady decline. According to Web analytics firm Net Applications, IE's usage numbers inched upwards in June from 59.8 percent to 60.3 percent. While promising, Microsoft knows not to read too much into this.
"We certainly don't judge our business on just two months of data, but the direction here is encouraging," said Ryan Gavin, senior director of business and marketing for Internet Explorer.
Meanwhile, Mozilla's Firefox browser slid backwards from 24.3 percent to 23.8 percent. And don't take your eyes off of Google's Chrome browser, which rose from 7.0 percent to 7.2 percent from May to June. Still settling in at fourth place, Apple's Safari browser climbed from 4.8 percent to 4.9 percent, while Opera declined ever-so-slightly from 2.4 percent to 2.3 percent.
Chrome has gained a large following in its short history on a reputation for speed. According to a new round of benchmarking, it looks like Internet Explorer 9 could actually give Google's browser a run for its money. We heard the new version had improved HTML5 support, but they weren't kidding. In the newly released Preview 3, IE9 managed to beat Chrome soundly on a test of HTML5 canvas speed. It's described as "orders of magnitude faster"
Keeping in mind that this is still a preview build of the browser, we're feeling pretty optimistic. It's hard to see moving to IE as our main browser, but it would be nice if people had a decent browser on their PCs out of the box. Hit this link to see the video.
The latest preview build of Internet Explorer 9 is now available for download. The third Platform Preview of IE9, which was unveiled at an event in San Francisco on Wednesday, offers some more flavors from the HTML5 platter, including support for the <AUDIO>, <VIDEO> and <CANVAS> tags. The preview build is designed to flaunt IE9's ability to tap into the underlying hardware, something that can provide a major performance boost to in-browser apps and HTML5 video.
While Internet Explorer continues to be the most used browser in the world, it is not a product that everyone swears by. Web developers itching to jump onto the HTML5 bandwagon have Internet Explorer standing in their way like an antiquated monolith. The various versions of the browser currently in use - between 50-60 percent of the browser market – are incompatible with the new web standard, except for IE 8 that is partially compatible.
According to a post on the Chromium Blog, Google fixed over 200 bugs in the previous build: “We’ve improved our handling of Internet Explorer’s InPrivate browsing, cache clearing, and cookie blocking. All of the enhancements and features of Google Chrome 5.0 are available in Google Chrome Frame too, including HTML5 audio and video, canvas, geolocation, workers, and databases.” Existing users will automatically have the plug-in updated to the latest version.
Microsoft tomorrow will issue 10 security bulletins to address 34 security vulnerabilities found in Windows, Office, and Internet Explorer, the Redmond outfit announced. Three of the bulletins have been rated as "Critical," which would allow an attacker to take full control of the affected machine, while the remaining seven are listed as "Important," the second-highest rating in Microsoft's four-point scale ("Moderate" and "Low" being the remaining two).
This is a large update that will give IT admins plenty to do this week. All three critical vulnerabilities affect all Windows OS versions, including XP, Vista, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008, as well as several versions of Internet Explorer.
What exactly all these security fixes will address hasn't yet been disclosed, though six of them deal with Remote Code Execution, three with Elevation of Privilege, and one addresses a Tampering vulnerability. Two of the updates -- including one ranked as Critical -- will require a system restart, while the remaining eight may require rebooting, Microsoft said.
We're not yet ready to read IE6's eulogy, but it might not be long before an obituary listing is in order. For the first time in a long time, U.S. usage of IE6 dropped below 5 percent -- 4.74 percent too be exact, and 4.61 percent in Europe, according to Web analytics firm StatCounter.
That's quite the different landscape than one year ago. Back then, IE6 usage hovered at around 11.5 percent, but newer browsers, including Microsoft's own IE7 and IE8, have continued to chip away at IE6's usage numbers.
That's not such a bad thing. Security holes are a concern for the dated Web browser, and developers "who have often had to recode their site to get it to work" are growing tired of doing so, notes StatCounter CEO Aodhan Cullen.
"At these levels Web developers now have valid justification not to support IE6 in the future," Cullen added.
If a business wants to block Facebook, it's common for them to work with IT to design an elaborate, and ultimately flawed, scheme to do so. But according to Microsoft's Stuart Strathdee, many businesses are just continuing to run the now ancient Internet Explorer 6. As it turns out, most of the slick new social networking sites don't render properly in IE6; they sometimes don't work at all.
This way a company doesn't have to actively talk to employees about acceptable usage, or develop security tactics. "For a lot of our customers that's just a comfortable consequence of staying on IE6," said Strathdee. This looks like a bit of speed bump in Microsoft's efforts to get everyone on IE8. Strathdee points to the much improved security features of newer version of the web browser as reason enough for companies to switch.
Does your place of business still use IE6? If so, do you think they're doing it out of laziness, or is there a more devious purpose?
Microsoft has kicked off a new campaign that likens Internet Explorer 6 to old milk. The quirky comparison is Microsoft's not-so-subtle way of telling users that its dated browser has expired and it's time to go shopping for a new one.
"So why use a 9-year-old browser?," a page on Microsoft's Australia portal reads. "When Internet Explorer 6 was launched in 2001, it offered cutting-edge security -- for the time. Since then, the Internet has evolved and the security features of Internet Explorer 6 have become outdated.
"With the latest state-of-the-art security features, Internet Explorer 8 is designed to cope with today's modern cyber crime. In fact, research proves it."
Microsoft goes on to reference a browser study by NSS Labs in which IE8 caught socially engineered malware 85 percent of the time compared to Firefox 3's 29 percent, Safari 4's 29 percent, and Chrome's 17 percent.
IE6's market share has steadily declined since Windows 7 came out, which ships with IE8. According to Net Applications, IE6 now claims 17.6 percent of the browser market, down from 25.3 percent nine months ago.
Dating back to even before Netscape Navigator bit the dust, Microsoft's Internet Explorer has been the top dog in browsers, at least in terms of overall market share. But as competitors begin to close the gap, is it too early to begin talking about IE's demise?
EWeek certainly doesn't think so, which posted 10 compelling reasons why Internet Explorer's dominance is coming to an end. Chief among them is the European Union, which has been a costly thorn in Microsoft's side (and wallet), most recently forcing the Redmond software maker to include a browser ballot in Windows.
According to eWeek, however, should IE fall from its throne, Microsoft can't just the point the finger elsewhere. Ranking No. 2 on eWeek's list is Microsoft's complacency, something that was most evident in between the time IE 6 and IE 7. Microsoft has since picked up the pace, but even so, it seems as though Microsoft is usually playing catch-up with other browser makers rather than blazing a trail of its own.
A lack of features, both in quantity and in implementation, Chrome's rise in popularity, and increasingly tech savvy users are among some of the other reasons eWeek sees IE falling faster than the Dallas Mavericks come playoff time.
Google's Chrome browser has really been on a roll the last few months, and April was no exception according to numbers from NetApplications. The internet analytics firm said Chrome saw a 0.6% increase in usage share over the previous month. Chrome now sits at 6.7% market share. On the other side of things, we have Internet Explorer and Firefox, to whom the month of April was not as kind.
Internet Explorer saw another steep decline of 0.7% dropping it just below 60% market share for the first time since AOL ruled the interwebs. Firefox was technically up last month, but only by 0.07% to 24.6%. That magical one-quarter market share is just ever so slightly out of reach.
It's clear that IE users are moving to other browsers, but it looks like they're moving to Chrome in larger numbers. Add to that a few Firefox users migrating to Chrome, and you have bleak picture for anyone that isn't The Big G. Where do you come down in the browser wars?