A browser trend – IE use is waning

I remember the days (late 1990’s) when Netscape navigator ruled the web browser market, and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was a joke. In a few short years, however, Microsoft dominated the market, wiping out Netscape, and taking over 90% of the browser share.

This domination continued even as new upstarts, like Opera, Safari (Mac) and Firefox entered the scene. However, users increasingly frustrated with Explorer, started testing out the alternatives. By 2007, when Google Chrome came on the scene, MS was steadily losing market share.

I noticed a shift over the years in development work as well. It used to be that anything I did “had to work / look right” on Internet Explorer. If it didn’t work so well on Firefox, or Safari, the client didn’t usually care. But over time, I noticed clients becoming more concerned about other browsers. In fact, now I have some clients who don’t care about IE, but focus on FF, Chrome, and Safari. Today I saw an article about this company (not a client) saved precious startup money by not supporting – IE – in any version.

So why the change? The fragmentation of the market really increased the need to standards compliance. This means that code should function and render the same on all browsers. For a long time, MS went their own way, forcing developers to deal with their implementation of javascript, html, and other web languages. They had the muscle to do it, because they owned the market. But now they are stuck – developers are increasingly frustrated with code that works everywhere but IE, and clients are starting to shrug their shoulders. Because IE’s market share is now in the minority down around 40%. With the rise of mobile browsers and devices, it’s more important that the site work across as many platforms as possible. It IE is the main / only outlier, so be it.

It’s interesting to see how the ground shifts over time – hopefully Microsoft will get in line with upcoming versions of IE – if not, they face going the way of Netscape, at least in the browser market.

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