postheadericon Internet Explorer’s Big Change or Huge Mistake

For those who have been following such things, internet explorer, microsoft’s browser that has been a key player in the market for over a decade, recently released it’s newest version, version 10, to Windows 7 customers.  The browser version, which was originally only produced for Windows 8 users, was released about 3 months ago.  This change was likely done after Windows 8’s dismal performance over the first 6 months of its existence.

According to StatCounter (gs.statcounter.com), Windows 8 has been slowly gaining ground after its initial launch in October, but as of yet has only reach about 5% of the market.  As of now, it is poised to finally surpass Windows Vista in June, if current trends remain the same.  Considering the generally accepted opinion that Windows Vista was one of the worst mistakes in Microsoft’s history, taking 8 months to surpass it shows extremely poorly on the company, especially when predecessor Windows 7 reached 3 times the audience in the same time frame.

For Windows 7 users, however, IE10 looked to be unavailable for the longest time.  However, on February 26th, Microsoft released it for users of the currently most popular operating system, Windows 7.  What is sadly the current second most popular operating system, Windows XP (which still maintains 21% of the market after over a decade in service), will likely never receive the upgrade as IE9 was not released on it and Microsoft plans to discontinue support for it as of April of next year.

The update for Windows 7 users however, came in the form of a Windows Update.  For what I believe is the first time, the new version of IE was downloaded automatically without any input from the client.  On some level, perhaps I should be annoyed, but seeing as Chrome and Firefox have been doing it for years, I really don’t mind anymore.  It is actually shocking that it took Microsoft this long to start playing ball by the new rules.  That being said, if many out there are like me, we were shocked to find out we were running IE10.  I do not know when it was installed, only that one day I opened up internet explorer to find out that a few things had changed.

A large part of me was happy that finally, Microsoft was being smart and getting everybody onto the more updated browsers, which makes it easier of Web Developers like me to not need to worry about how a website will show up on older browsers.  However, it seems to have been a moot point anyway.  After IE10’s release on Windows 7, market share for Internet Explorer has continued to drop, placing it at unprecedented lows for the once mighty browser.  For the browser that held 68.5% of the global market 5 years ago to drop down to just of 25% now shows just how far the mighty have fallen.  Meanwhile, Google Chrome, which has been the global market leader for the last year, looks ready to finally dethrone Internet Explorer in the US market, which has remained steadfastly pro-IE for the last decade.  The once mighty browser was still maintaining a decent 43% market share in the US in April, but has started a steep decline and is currently estimated at only 31% for June, a full 12% market share lost in 2 months.

If the current trend continues, we could be looking at the potential demise of one of the greatest browsers ever created, however perhaps it is time for the aging giant to step down and allow the new king, Google Chrome, to rule the market as it once did.  Microsoft has enough to worry about, with a dismal performance by its latest operating system, and a decade old operating system still holding on to almost a quarter of the market.  The world will see whether Internet Explorer will continue to survive or, like the Netscape and AOL platforms of the past, fade in obscurity.

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