From the advent of the popular internet, Internet Explorer has held major market share. It comes installed on almost every computer sold today and functions well enough that the average user never really looked beyond IE to see what other choices are available. For a time there was Netscape, but that browser was short-lived in the internet scheme of things, thus not worth mentioning.
But now competition is again heating up. Mozilla’s Firefox burst onto the scene in a small way but has grown considerably putting a great deal of pressure on Microsoft to tune up and polish Explorer. After all, IE hasn’t seen competition like this in years.
The Bumpy Road of IE
Internet Explorer may be the most well known browser to professionals and casual users alike, but it is by no means perfect. Like many things Microsoft, it is produced with more than a few bugs that take time to identify and work out. And just when the system is working smoothing most of the time, a new version is released that has some improvements, such as tabbed windows and RSS feeds, but also has the kind of bugs that make you wish for something more.
Is Firefox the Answer?
For those sick of dealing with frozen windows, constant updates and slow loads, Firefox has offered a ready alternative for years. Initially Firefox was popular primarily with computer geeks and internet professionals but in recent years has become a household name. Your mother’s computer might be just as likely to have Firefox as it is to have Internet Explorer.
Firefox tends to not only work a bit better – at least according to its fans, but it also has features that Microsoft had to scramble to replicate. Firefox’s primary asset for years was tabbed browsers. Instead of opening multiple windows all over your screen, your windows are nicely contained in a single place and easily accessible by clicking from one tab to the next. Firefox has had these tabs for years. It took Windows eighteen months to create (copy) the idea for IE 7.
Firefox had a few other things going for it with better search features and SEM. Updates are automatic for the most part and even if Firefox has to close to reload after updating, it will often open back to your same windows avoiding the irritation of lost material or non-bookmarked URLs. Firefox has easily accessible history as well with old pages and even old tabs saved for review should you accidentally close a window or need to backtrack quickly.
A Bit of Healthy Competition
When Microsoft announced it was working on Internet Explorer 7, the web community geared up for a serious fight. Internet Explorer was old school, but immensely powerful. Surely it would cream the little upstart that was daring to steal some of its market share. So with the release of IE 7, reviews were almost instantaneous.
IE 7 was certainly new. It had tabbed browsing, RSS features, and updated searches. But even with these new features (which aren’t new anywhere but IE), Microsoft still didn’t hit one out of the park. In fact, according to most industry experts and web professionals, Firefox is still simply better and that’s sure to put a hurt on the big boys of Microsoft.