Blogging was where we began, and how we built our company so we have preserved this archive to show how our thinking developed over a decade of developing the use of social technology inside organisations

the half-life of IE browsers


The launch of IE7 is not in the least bit welcome, despite people trying to be positive about the way it might popularise aspects of what they call Web 2.0. True, the massed ranks of crippled corporate desktops will at least potentially be able to use tabs (yay!) and render stylesheets slightly better (yay!), but some of us will need to unlearn 5 years of workarounds and hacks and support two very different IE browsers (boo!). And for what? The point that struck me today was just how slowly Microsoft’s browser market share had declined in 5 years of stagnation, during which time IE was patched dozens of times but was never developed any further
Despite Firefox, Safari, Opera and other useful alternatives, the estimated market share of Microsoft’s browser only slowly declined from a peak of 95% in 2002 to approximately 82-5% currently. Of course, I hardly know anybody who uses IE6, but over 80% of Internet users are doing so. Sigh. What hope for humanity? A 10% decline in usage in half a decade! How depressing
There are some organisations that will now waste months evaluating, debating, testing a centralised roll-out of a new browser, with tabs and RSS and perhaps less idiosyncratic rendering, just because Microsoft tell them they can. They will find ways to cripple it, for safety reasons, and there will be a change-over period where many things don’t work or don’t look right
Question: If Firefox is available and 80% of people can’t be bothered, … do they deserve it in the first place?

One Response to the half-life of IE browsers

  1. By Jason Grant on October 23, 2006 at 1:53 pm

    Unusually negative and sad remark by Lee here I must admit.
    I agree here with Lee’s views by and large. Shame that many people (including myself) did not realise the usefullness of Firefox earlier and in some cases not at all.
    I am not sure whether people are going to flock back to IE7 now all of a sudden. It will be very interesting to see what happens overall. I noticed also that IE7 carries with it a horrible and very monopolistic ‘Windows Genuine check up patch’, which will definitely force most of the people I know to stick with Firefox. 🙂
    Perhaps Microsoft is finally going ‘all out warfare’ on Google here (note: I personally view Firefox as Google’s browser for obvious reasons) and are confident enough to view IE7 as powerful enough to do to Firefox what previous versions of IE did to the likes of Netscape.
    There is also additional angle to this sad story, which is the angle of Opera and other similar browsers which are I suppose in some aspects at least even better and nicer to use than Firefox is. Shame, a great shame.
    Final thought. This is just one more argument which shows that even in the seemingly ‘level playing field’ of the Internet, virtual reality and open protocols, we can still have horrible things like monopoly and market domination, as well as more ‘interesting’ Big Brother related aspects associated with data mining and similar lovelies of Computer Science’s ‘boring’ lectures.
    PS: Cheer up Lee! Perhaps its time for you and I to give up and get a PC after all with a nice installation of Windows on it?! *Music from ‘Jaws’ plays in the background*