Ballmer said in his TC interview that IE had 74% of the browser market. What world does he live in? There are no stats, worldwide or otherwise that give such a high figure.
The latest reports are in from the search engine and browser battlefields, and the news isn't good for Microsoft, with both Bing and Internet Explorer continuing to lose market share. According to the web analysts at StatCounter, Microsoft's Bing search engine continued its worldwide decline in September, down to 2.59 per cent …
@toughluck et al
There's been a fair bit of Opera bashing on The Reg of late, mainly because they dared raise their voice against the mighty M$.
Opera make a great browser. They always have. They may have made a mistake a few years back in the advertising supported or paid for business model they chose to adopt for Opera, but nonetheless, they still made / make a great browser.
Opera have also been innovators: tabbed browsing, mouse gestures, anti-phishing, pop-up blocking, Speed Dial, feed reading etc. Opera innovated, others followed or supplied add ons or plug ins. It's in the DS and the Wii, it's in set-top boxes, it's in Adobe's Creative Suite applications, it's on tens of millions of mobile phones, and is arguably the best browser for such environments.
Try it for a while and you'll be an Opera convert.
So enough of the Opera bashing already!
I wonder how much most users really care about browsers (IE6 excepted as being really dubious). I use IE 8 and Firefox and Opera interchangably, almost at random, and slightly prefer the fox because I have a veyy nice skin on it (although IEs favourite handling is preferable to me) .The real money is still in the OS and applications market and the only real threat to MS might be Google, and that's still a real "might". Chrome is usable and Safari OK(ish), I have both, but only really use them for testing purposes. As long as a browser shows the majority of websites, more or less in the way the designers intended and reasonably quickly, who cares (slavish adherents to MS/Apple/Google/Firefox and the makers of Opera excepted, rather obviously).
"Market Share" of free web browsers? Who really cares? Why do Microsoft care? It's a free product after all... and as far as I can remember always has been.
They can only care if they feel that losing the supposed "competition" makes them look stupid... and the more they appear to care/compete then the more they look stupid. (IMO)
If you pardon the expression, Microsoft have - since the inception of IE - always wanted to be in a "dick waving" contest with the supposed opposition, be it Netscape, Phoenix (ah.. heady days), Opera. To what end?
As I remember, it is probably because MS was - for a long time - trying to determine the web standards in variants of their own (with a consequent "tie-in") ... and unfortunately this legacy lives on.
Just cut the chair throwing, acknowledge web standards, produce add-ons for IE if you like (or cross-platform if you want more friends) and be done with it.
It all comes back to the same thing: Microsoft gained their browser dominance through leveraging their OS. They even admitted they couldn't win through features, etc. The growth of other browsers and the dominance of Google is certainly a threat to Microsoft, but as long as they have a stranglehold on the OS, they can potentially leverage that to push anything they want.
Despite all the purring they have been doing recently regarding their new found love of open standards, IE *still* represents a haven of proprietary protocols that MS can use to maintain their user lockin on the underlying OS. There are plenty of browser based apps and websites that simply won't work in any browser other than IE and while that might be slowly changing, Microsoft are now attempting to inject a new layer of lockin to the web via silverlight.
Ultimately, they won't really care what browser people use, as long as some part of the web "experience" relies on MS proprietary tech. If Silverlight ever achieve the ubiquity that MS hopes for then they can, to a degree, take less interest in browser market share and rely on the fact that users require Windows to run Silverlight properly thereby protecting their OS monopoly into the future.
Fortunately, Silverlight has been an epic fail up to this point so they are forced to continue trying to protect their browser market share while at the same time trying to look like they care about interoperability and open standards.
Evil Bill because THERE IS NO EVIL BALLMER ICON!
MS has good reason to worry. Firefox has Adblock.
MS seem to have realised that they are unlikely to continue their success in installing Windows and Office on everybody's computers and reaping the advantage of a monopoly. Their new model seems to be evolving to rely more on joint ventures with media corps in an effort to continue their world domination - No adverts, no income for media corps...
Here in the UK at least, we don't generally vacuum clean the house, a lot of us still "hoover" the house. We don't search the web, we "google" the web for something. You may not used the term "google it" but habit's are terrible things, you want to find something, you fire up a brower and you chuck in www.google.com if it hasn't already been set as default already!
Donkey's years ago I used to use Altavista, then Yahoo. How many use Yahoo now? Not as many as use Google.
MS must have known that Bing will have to be in this for the long haul, if Bing is going to make any headway it will be a long hard fight to get it into common usage.
While Hoover may not have been the first in with their cleaners, they were the first to get it more or less right, not perfect, but just good enough to beat all the competition, same with Google. Not perfect, just good enough to get it about right.
The problem with heaps of people still using IE6 is that they think the internet is that slow/buggy/full of ads/etc. Or worse, that computers in general were the lovechild of Bill's large intestine and Satan's chief henchman.
It's no skin off my nose in general, except that I have to do tech support for these people.
Paris because I'd do tech support for her any day, even on half pay.
Microsofts problem is that their search is a big pile of bing. People gave it a fair go and decided that it was bing and went back to google. Microsoft gave it a good go with Bing but it turns out that it's only good if you want to buy something - if your not looking to spend money then google simply gives much better results.
As for the browsers, of all of Microsofts market share I'd say around 15% are people who have a choice (or have a choice but don't realize) and 85% are people using corporate locked down machines where there is no choice in browser or anything else.
If chrome had ad block I'd switch from FF now.....can't see the biggest ad firm on the web letting people block ads somehow.
Because if you've ever tried developing web applications that adhere to W3C standards you'd soon know why the IE majority market share is a bad thing. The more people that adopt standards compliant browsers the better, hopefully eventually this will either a) see the end of IE's dominance (unlikely I know) or b) force MS to produce a standards compliant browser (equally unlikely but you never know).
chrome does have adblock. I'm writing this in Chromium on linux (ubuntu 9.04 using the daily ppa svn packages) I have the adsweep user script enabled and flashblocking.
Having said that Opera is also very good (I'm particularly fond of the way it handles news feeds) and Firefox will always have an edge with its addon architecture (shame they can't make it a bit more resource friendly).
People don't change browsers unless:
1) They know and have time to try
2) The new has a significant advantage
Firefox 2 v IE6 was a no-brainer unless you were a Redfan. Of course you had to keep an IE browser for the websites that wouldn't conform. With Fox's meaty share today that is very few. I only use IE8 for testing and Windows Updates.
Opera was, IMHO, as good as Fox, but no better, in the early days but its irritating ads meant it didn't get anywehere. Today with all of Fox's add-ons it is never going to get anywhere.
Whereas Chrome was a revelation. It had the speed advantage over the Fox that the latter had shown agains IE in the old days. Chrome's maximisation of screenspace and combine address/search box completed the attraction. It became my browser of choice. Fox stays for the difficult sites and when I need an add-on but it is just a backup (except on Linux of course).
Its the nature of browsers to grow fat in old age. Firefox is going that way. I pray that Google doesn't get tempted to feature compete. Keep Chrome thin and fast. Let the Fox develop as the feature rich alternative, indeed have Chrome launch Fox as its 'featured add-on' rather than replicate when needed.
Two browsers are better than one. However, I don't believe there is room for a third browser for most people.
Ballmer is right about Safari at least, it's been around a while but has failed to get much growth and as a web browser isn't really improving much feature or quality wise to change that. It speaks volumes that even the most viscious of Apple fanboys often shun Safari in favour of Firefox- Apple fans shunning an Apple product in favour of a non-Apple product is a sure fire sign that Safari is indeed a crap browser. It's growth in these stats can be attributed almost entirely to the iPhone, where Apple uses anti-competitive practices to ensure Safari is the only real browsing option.
Chrome on the other hand is relatively new, is improving a fair bit, and has strong market penetration relative to it's age. It's much more of a threat then, perhaps even more so than Firefox. It's penetration is small because it's new, it's penatration relative to age is massive though and it's growth compared to penetration is impressive.
But, needless to say, Firefox is still favourite to take the lead right now if anything is going to topple IE. In the long run though, I think what we'll see is Firefox, Chrome and IE having roughly equal share with the likes of Opera and Safari remaining footnotes, or in Ballmer speak, rounding errors.
"And then, of course, there's Firefox 4.0, scheduled for release in late 2010. Any bets on what the market share figures will look like in that time frame?"
I really don't care about market share. Nor do I give a rat's ass about when any particular software project's release schedule may or may not occur.
I use what works for me and mine, today, the way that we need the software to work. A lot of the time it's FOSS (all of my installed base uses Firefox for everything WWW related). Sometimes it's proprietary ... I still need AutoDesk software on Windows and the wife & I use a couple Macs for video editing. My decades-old "friends & family" internet-facing email, ftp, Usenet & Web server (in that order!) runs a pre-Solaris Sun OS. I'm not religious about this kind of stuff, not by any stretch.
But then me and mine are not sheeple, and are capable of making up our own minds ... so I suppose that we're not exactly the targets of WorldWideMarketing[tm](c)(r)
My point? Well ... Despite all indications to the contrary, you ARE still allowed to think for yourself ... The only question is are you too lazy to bother?
"IEs favourite handling is preferable to me"
I will not even consider using IE (except for testing web page compatibility) until they configure it to change the spelling of "favorite" to "favourite".
After all, the language is set to "en-gb" in my internet options. How fucking hard can it be?
"Try it for a while and you'll be an Opera convert."
I did (for QUITE a while as it happens) and I'm not.
IE8 doesn't get in the way of browsing, so why would I want to switch from the Windows built-in app to one that I have to download, install, configure and learn ? I occasionally use FF+ABP for sites which are over the top with ads, but that's it. I use Opera on the Wii, cos it's the only browser available, but that's it.
You will follow everyone else on the golden path to doom and learn to like being a sheep at the same time, why should you be any different from them.
All of them obviously know better than you, which is why the world is in a far better shape than it has ever been throughout history.
Now, learn to trash MS and IE, exactly like everyone else does, or you'll get excommunicated from society, and exiled to either Commodore 64 or BBC micro.
Since a few people have mentioned their reluctance to switch to Chrome or Safari due to the lack of plugins making it hard to do ad-blocking... just use an ad-blocking proxy. I use Glimmer Blocker on my Mac with Safari and it does a great job. Nice fast ad-blocking without cluttering up my browser with clunky plugins. If you're using Safari or Chrome on Windows then I presume there must be comparable products.
I occasionally use Opera on Linux (since v10 betas), and while it certainly is a very good, featureful browser, I don't see it currently having any compelling advantages over Firefox. On my systems any speed difference Opera vs Firefox isn't really noticeable.
Besides, it seems Firefox is starting to benefit from the same "ignorant web developer" effects as IE has had in the past: Because of the market dominance it has over other non-IE browses, I have occasionally run into sites that work fine with FF, but have glitches on Opera, no doubt because they break standards in a way that FF happens to tolerate but Opera doesn't.
I'm guessing that a lot of developers these days check their site with IE and Firefox, frob their site until it looks good on them, and then call the job done. Oh well, at least it is an improvement over supporting IE only.
A "browser wars" article comes up there is always at least one comment to the effect of:
""Market Share" of free web browsers? Who really cares? Why do Microsoft care? It's a free product after all... and as far as I can remember always has been."
Given enough dominance in the market the maker of any given browser can ignore any agreed standards and make their browser incompatible with any other. Web monkeys will have to code for that browser (potentially) at the expense of all others because it's the dominant browser... and this has been happening for years with IE dominance.
Taken to the final conclusion - control enough market share and you ARE the defacto standard - and you can change that standard whenever you like - in essence you control the entire global GUI that is the web.
If IE had almost total market dominance, MS could quite easily kill off support for Flash and push Silverlight on everyone, even build it into the browser as a "standard" - they could have IIS push out a custom HTTP header (yes, they've done it before) without which IE would refuse to display the page properly - and the web monkeys would have to comply because that's what everyone uses. Since, in this admittedly extreme scenario, there's no alternative to IE - MS can effectively control every aspect of the www from servers to plug-ins and development software and even, to a certain extent, operating systems (by not porting IE from Windows) - THAT'S the financial incentive.
Anyone been to multimap.com (now "from bing") recently? It's a big improvement over Google maps. It has proper OS maps, the choice of nice sharp satellite view or low angle / taken from the side of a plane shots if you really want to see over your neighbour's fence.
It even works more smoothly than Google in Opera 10 :-D
Some folks still don't 'get it'.
If people can do their jobs and run their lives using web based apps like Google Docs and Google Wave, they can do so from *any* operating system which can run the browser which runs the apps.
If it doesn't matter what operating system people use, Microsoft has lost the game.
It's that simple.
If MS Office is to be 'eaten by web based apps, rather than StarOffice, OpenOffice etc. Windows will become irrelevant.
Google is positioned best to win, which should concern anyone who values individual privacy. I don't trust Microsoft either, but at least they haven't been gathering inscrutable browsing data on me for the last 10 years.
Interesting thing the other night... I was on my way home waiting for the bus, and was listening to the radio (I'm a licensed radio amateur), whilst checking out the activity on a few repeaters.
I tuned across to VK4RAX (Mt. Cotton repeater; 147.075MHz) and caught a bit of a discussion with one operator wondering whether he should switch to Mozilla (Firefox) because this "Bing thing" had "taken over" his web browser. He apparently had no idea what it was, and apparently didn't ask for it... so was quite annoyed when it popped up.
Microsoft has had a history of springing things on its users in this manner... (the sodding paperclip of Office 95... Office 2007's ribbon interface, Hotmail becoming IE-specific...etc) so perhaps the same thing happened here. People have gotten sick of Microsoft trying to push their agenda and are jumping ship.
At my work and home, I use Firefox 3.5... I find it's the best browser for my needs, as I prefer to run much the same software on all platforms I use... which includes Windows, i386 Linux, and MIPS Linux (both old SGI boxes, and the newer Lemote systems... yes... I'm one of the Gentoo/MIPS devs). My boss still uses IE6 -- he's one of these people who doesn't know much about system updates and just wishes to use a computer. My other work colleague uses IE8... and on much of the systems that I use, I've tried to ensure that the system is up to date, even if the browser isn't used much.
Opera does not offer a download for MIPS systems... and I'm used to the customisability of Firefox. I find even on the old PII 300MHz laptop I'm using now, it works well enough for my needs. I don't need ultra speed, I just need reliability and predictability.
IE with its owner's desire to hold me captive, doesn't seem to offer that.
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