Are you still using Internet Explorer?

WEB | Even if you are Microsoft, a fiery fox can still cause you a headache, Ahmad Humeid reports.

Just a few years ago, it seemed that the Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has achieved absolute and final victory in the browser wars. With the advent of the commercial internet a decade ago, the king of browsers was, of course, Netscape. But uncle Bill and his Microsoft army kept making IE better and better (while Netscape was getting decidedly worse). Moreover, Microsoft used its dominance of the world of operating systems to chip away at Netscape’s share until, well, Netscape was history. But the story does not end here.

Before Netscape died (the company lives on as a rather sad and forgotten AOL property) it decided to give its core engine to the open source community. Thus the Mozilla project was born.

Why is that important? Because today, Netscape’s legacy, in the form of a number of browsers, is back to haunt Microsoft! Just consider this: when I checked the statistics of my own web site earlier this week I found out that over 20% of visitors are actually using Firefox, which is a Mozilla-based browser. This is no joke and it is keeping Microsoft on its toes.

If you have still not caught the Firefox bug then be warned: you might be soon be seen as technically uncool, which will not be in your favour at dinner parties! So go to www.mozilla.com/firefox/ and download a free copy for your Window, Mac or Linux machine (ok, if you have the latter, chances are you are already using Firefox!). The real power of this browser is its amazing extensibility. There are all kind of plug-ins you can add to make the browser even more useful, such as ad blockers, a weather forecast toolbar widget, download assistants and many more. Web developers utilize special Firefox extensions to do all kinds of cool things like checking how a particular web page was stylized.

One important aspect of today’s renewed browser war is that browsers are evaluated on how close a particular browser adheres to so-called web standards; the industry wide agreements on the technical standards of web page building technologies. It was only in the past few years that browser makers have come round to correctly implementing these global standards in their products. There used to be a time when a web designer had to build several, browser specific, versions of a web page to make sure it visually looked and behaved the same across different platforms. Today things are much better, but compared to IE, Firefox is more standards-compliant, adding to its popularity among tech geeks and, increasingly, non geeks too.

But it’s not only Firefox that’s eating into IE market share. If you are a Mac user, you are probably using Apple Safari, an elegant, fast browser, whose release a few years ago promoted Microsoft to give up on the development of IE on the Mac. On my web statistics, Safari was garnering a respectable 12% share of visitors.

As an alternatives to both Safari and Firefox on the Mac you can use Camino (which is also Mozilla at heart). One of the things I love about Camino and Firefox is their ability to remember my username and passwords for different sites. This takes the pain out of re-entering the login information on sites that continually ask you to identify yourself.

The rise of the IE killers has shown that in tech, no one is immune to competition. Not even the guys in Redmond who seemed, not long ago, to have crushed their opponents with a 95% market dominance.


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8 Responses to “Are you still using Internet Explorer?”

  1. Hamzeh N. Says:

    I use both FF and IE.

  2. Abdul Wahid Says:

    Firefox’s icons are ass. And the application takes too long to load. However – it’s still a better alternative to I.E. Although props to Mozilla for following W3C web standards. :)

    Whats worse for IE is there latest browser release (which is beta) is perhaps the WORST UI design in the history of browsers. Too many icons without thoughful placement. It seems very random how they set up the UI. Safari by default has more buttons than both FF & IE, yet both of the browsers look bloated compared to the elegant design Safari. It comes down to simplicity. Reduce items to their minimal and use repetition to modularize the interaction. Honestly there is no reason to have ugly icons.

    BTW - FF is a rip of Safari’s UI. :)

  3. bakkouz Says:

    I’ve been Using FireFox for a long time now and there has not been moment i regreted it, actualy I don’t think there has ever been a case of a person using FF and not liking it and reverting back to IE, I think the main reason why some people still use IE is becuase they are not so much internet savvy or they just havn’t heard about it yet.

  4. Rami Says:

    Well, talking about standards, I do not think that you considered IE 7. A main goal Microsoft is trying to achieve in the new version of IE is to make it THE standards-compliant browser.

    I work in a software house where we develop web solutions; the browser plays a major role in our work. I am using IE 7 Beta for about 3 months now. It is incredible! And you will immediatly notice the differences in how pages are rendered on IE6 and IE7.

    I believe that IE7 will mix up everything again. Microsoft will not give up easily. Firefox has to fight much harder to win.

  5. Abdul Wahid Says:

    True – Microsoft finally realized that the web is not them and actually started caring about W3C standards. Totally agree – web apps are increasing in number, and the latest trend of some companies (whose user segmentation is savvier) is to ignore IE all together and come back are worry about them later. The fact remains – MS still has more people using there browser.

    However – their UI and visual interface is pathetic. Props to them for following W3C, and “what are you thinking” when is comes to the other stuff.

  6. Abdelrahman Osama Says:

    IE share has been decreasing in the last period as more people learn about standards compliancy but we can’t say FF or Safari won the war as still the majority uses IE but they realizes they are in their way of losing this war, and they are reloading to fight another battle with IE7, but as we know Microsoft always want to rule and destroy what you can call democracy or in a tech language open source aspects, and that is very bad to the health of the web, any way it’s a long story started from year 1995 and with efforts of men like Jeffrey Zeldman and the WaSP has really helped in fixing this problem, but what I want to say is that they are trying to take the lead again and it looks like a disaster reborn and that’s what Jeffrey Zeldman didn’t accept read his post Unmixed, Sorry for the long comment.

  7. Sam Abuelsamid Says:

    I personally started using firefox back when it phoenix 0.2 and have used ever since. Checking my own blog stats over 65% of the hits last month came from firefox and it has been over 50% for many months now. Last month IE accounted for only 18% of unique page views. I don’t allow my kids to use IE at all. On windows machines it is firefox and on the macs it is either safari, firefox or camino

  8. nasimjo Says:

    hehe,, and seems no1 checked IE7beta that comes with Win XP SP 3… it simply shutsdown and requests sending an error to MS each and everytime you enter any google related website and want to sign in it….
    Webstandards… oh give me a break !
    FF roxxxxxxxxxx….. Its enough that u can run application inside of it, custom made applications:
    check www.mozdev.org

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