Motley Fool Asks – Is Microsoft IE Browser Doomed?

Motley Fool asks the question here and the evidence is compelling that IE is on a downtrend. Here is what Tim Beyer, The Foolish writer has to say:

StatCounter, an analytics firm, says that Firefox’s share of the browser market now stands at 32.06%, up almost seven percentage points from last November. Internet Explorer’s share fell more than 12 percentage points over the same period.Firefox isn’t the only winner here. Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) Safari made modest gains, and Google’s (Nasdaq: GOOG) Chrome browser gained almost as much as Firefox did — up to 5.34% from 0.93% last November

But then Tim advances the theory that Steve Jobs’ Macs which have nudged up to a 6-8% market share are a big factor in the defections away from IE. Tim does not even raise the following factors:
1)IE is the slowest of contemporary browsers;
2)IE has  only 1/2 the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript standards compliance that Chrome, Safari, Opera, and Firefox routinely deliver. This means a lot of extra work for developers – you would thnk developers would avoid using IE;

3)lacking the download manager, extensive plugin, and extensive theme/template features of the other browsers;

4)IE has one of the poorest  security records for number and time to fix for browser bugs and security hacks;

5)Microsoft has  [and continues to] obstruct web standards adoption by refusing to approve and/or implement many Web standards – SVG,HTML5[MS says it will do HTML5 but how much and when is outstanding. This is a scary repeat of pledging to implement full CSS and HTML standards and we are still waiting 1o years later as IE is only 50% there], E4X, JPEG200, XForms 2, CSS3 are just the beginning of a long list.

Despite this poor record and obstructionism Microsoft has managed to retain for over 5 years [since Firefox, Opera, and Safari appered]a still monopoly market share of 60%++.

So the real question is how can IE have such a poor record versus 4 other browsers  and still have a monopoly share of the market? How is this possible given the supposed efficiency of markets ? So Tim does raise a salient point –

Microsoft investors have reason to worry. This is a war, and it’s being fought in the browser. The most functional environment for cloud computing will win this conflict. Going by the trend in the numbers, users increasingly believe that’s Firefox.

Clearly IE is well behind on speed, features and web standards conformity. So far IE has proved to have at least 5 lives – can it continue to underperform and retain users and especially organizational loyalty? Tim says no – I am not so sure.

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