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Browsers - General
Strange as it may seem in this the third decade of the adoption of Tim (now Sir Timothy) Berners-Lee’s creation of the World Wide Web, the last few years have finally produced a serious challenger for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE). With the birth of the Mozilla Organization (funded partially by Netscape, the first widely adopted web browser) and ultimately the Mozilla Foundation, a substantial number of folks are now using Netscape/Mozilla versions with the most notable being Firefox.
The newest entry in the browser wars is Google's new Chrome. An Open Source browser like Firefox, Google's Chrome offers a very clean GUI, and is theoretically faster than all the others. With Google's marketing muscle we would expect that their market share will expand exponentially.
The remaining browsers (including Safari from Apple found on Mac's and Opera a speedy browser found mostly on hand-held mobile devices) account for a smaller portion of the overall market. The introduction by Apple of a Safari browser for Windows should increase Safari's overall market share, but it may prove to be only attractive to Mac users running Windows on their Mac's.
Far more interesting to watch is the Apple iPhone and it's Safari-based browser which is the first real competitor for Opera in the cell/mobile space, but that was only be a real issue for those who want to surf the web on 3 or 4-inch screens, the iPad, of course, changes that whole equation but that brings into play the whole Android/Chrome issue...stay tuned.
So the real battle for supremacy is really between IE and Firefox and Chrome and if the last year is any guide to the future, Firefox / Chrome will clearly be the winner, particularly in the U.S. The open source code of Firefox / Chrome allows their the look and feel to be personalized at higher levels and allows independent developers the opportunity to provide add-ons and extensions that are simply not available in IE.
One positive issue for IE is that so many websites are built in Microsoft’s FrontPage web development software, and optimized for IE, causing Firefox to mangle some web pages from time to time. This is particularly true with sites that utilize ActiveX, which will only parse correctly on IE. Our solution is to keep IE, and have it available, but to use Chrome almost all of the time. How Microsoft will ultimately respond to the Firefox / Chrome challenge is anyone’s guess but for right now our choice is clearly Chrome with Firefox a close second.
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