Should Microsoft even bother with Internet Explorer 9?

May 11, 2009

Should Microsoft even bother with Internet Explorer 9?Internet Explorer 8 was released in March 2009 after being worked on for around two years. Although there are some nice new features, and many improvements over IE7, Microsoft’s Web browser is old, outdated and slower than a snail hitching a ride on the back of a dead tortoise. Is there any point in developing Internet Explorer 9, really?

Internet Explorer was, at one point, pretty much the only option available to people wanting to surf the Web. At least the only mainstream, easy-to-use option for ordinary people. This fact, coupled with the latest version of IE being bundled with Windows-based PCs, meant the browser managed to command a 95 percent market share during 2002 and 2003.

That was just six years ago but a lot has changed since then. The biggest change was the emergence of Firefox as a serious alternative to Internet Explorer. Here is an open-source browser which looks great, has masses of features, and above all goes like the proverbial sh** off a shovel. And it’s enabled millions of people to leave Internet Explorer behind for pastures new.

Currently, Microsoft is struggling to maintain a market share above 60 percent, a massive shift from that 95 percent of just a few years ago. But despite everything suggesting that the market is turning against Internet Explorer, Microsoft is already forging ahead with plans for the development and release of IE9.

Microsoft is actively asking for feedback from IE users in order to help improvements be made to the next iteration of its Web browser, the as-yet-unannounced IE9. The company is looking for improvements and new features which consumers are looking for in the new browser. But really, is it worth it?

I know Microsoft still maintains a two-thirds share of the market but that is dropping month by month. I suspect it’ll be nearer 50 percent by the time Internet Explorer 9 is ready to come onto the market. And it’ll only still be that high because a fair proportion of everyday Internet users aren’t aware there are other options out there.

Google seems to be ramping up its efforts to let people know about its Chrome browser and I can see that becoming the choice for many in the coming years. Internet Explorer just isn’t what it once was and I doubt Microsoft will ever be able to claw it back to being so. IE9 – what’s the point?

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