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Of course, it all depends who you are listening to when it comes to browser client market share statistics. The Seattle Times was listening to OneStat.com when it reported that Internet Explorer is on the rise for the first time in a couple of years (up 2.8 percent from July to 85.9 percent) and Firefox on the slide (down 1.44 percent to 11.49 percent in the same period.) But even then, look beyond the global figures and you notice that browser client popularity is a very country specific thing: Internet Explorer usage is highest in the Netherlands at 88.47 percent and lowest in Germany at just 60 percent where Firefox is the most popular at 33.42 percent, users in both the Netherlands and UK are least enamored with Firefox which gets a lowly 9.77 percent of market share there. No matter where you look, according to the Amsterdam based OneStat.com figures at least, the order of popularity remains unchanged: Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera and Netscape. Although the latter on a global average market share of just 0.12 percent really does appear on its last legs, and Opera on 0.69 percent is not faring much better. You might expect better from Apple Safari, but at 1.61 percent it just cannot compete with Microsoft and Mozilla.

One of the most interesting takes on the whole browser client market is that of why Microsoft is in it any more at all. I can recall being at the press conference when Bill Gates famously changed his mind about the Internet just hours before giving his keynote, ripping up his speech notes and coming out to announce how important the Internet was and how Microsoft was going to embrace it rather than build a proprietary version (not that it has stopped trying to do pretty much that ever since of course.) The point being that originally, the whole point of Internet Explorer was as a diversionary tactic to draw attention and users away from the growing threat of Netscape. And the threat was never just as a web browser, but rather with the web as the new desktop; whoever controlled the new desktop would be the new Microsoft, and the old Microsoft rather understandably wanted it to be them. The rest is history, wonderfully exciting, full of intrigue and dodgy business practice history admittedly, but Netscape have gone and Microsoft are still here. The new enemy is Google, yet it has not entered into the browser client battle because it is clever enough to realize it doesn’t need to. The web is the new desktop, services are the new applications, the client being used to access them is irrelevant as far as Google is concerned. Mozilla is no real threat to Microsoft right now, and if the foundation was to jump into bed with Google good and proper there’s not a lot that Microsoft could do to stop it. Which is why I am slightly puzzled as to the lack of any Microsoft participation in the whole Firefox open source code development program. Throw a handful of guys at it, let them take advantage of the huge pool of talent already developing the thing while cutting costs and scoring a huge public relations victory. Best of all, from the nasty world of big business perspective, if things went pear shaped they could always eventually fork the codebase off into a Microsoft oriented direction.
There is no money in Internet Explorer any more, legal niceties mean that there is unlikely ever to be any in it again, so perhaps now is the time to dump it and focus talent, funding and attention on building the new Microsoft in areas where it really matters...

As Editorial Director and Managing Analyst with IT Security Thing I am putting more than two decades of consulting experience into providing opinionated insight regarding the security threat landscape for IT security professionals. As an Editorial Fellow with Dennis Publishing, I bring more than two decades of writing experience across the technology industry into publications such as Alphr, IT Pro and (in good old fashioned print) PC Pro. I also write for SC Magazine UK and Infosecurity, as well as The Times and Sunday Times newspapers. Along the way I have been honoured with a Technology Journalist of the Year award, and three Information Security Journalist of the Year awards. Most humbling, though, was the Enigma Award for 'lifetime contribution to IT security journalism' bestowed on me in 2011.

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Last Post by 1337_MilkMan
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Have I disputed the market share figure? No.

What I have done is question why Microsoft need IE any more, and if the development resource could be better spent elsewhere.

And this makes me delusional how exactly?

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Microsoft's no doubt done this sort of thing many times for their apps, I guess it would be more of a risk than anything to start changing the team configuration.

Paired with Microsoft, Firefox's outlook could become more or less efficient. Unpaired, I assume it will progress through its versions gaining more features, just hopefully not bloating, since the browser is efficient enough in my opinion. I mean, there's fairly big memory usage, but I've never really found that to be a problem.

Considering the global usage of IE is so great, perhaps it would be financially wise to join with Microsoft, regardless of the effects a new team would have on the browser (no doubt they wouldn't change it anyway). With Firefox, as a group, no longer a competitor, the remaining browsers would have a hard time competing with the MS Firefox (or whatever they'd call it) giant.

As always, Mr. Winder makes a fine blog.

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BeastOverlordH6 made a valid point here that MS and Firefox should merge together instead of competing with each other. MS could contibute a lot to improve Firefox even more --- and make it a very user-friendly browser.

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