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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18 Responses to “Should Microsoft even bother with Internet Explorer 9?”

  1. clodderes:

    So, don’t develope the ie9 and let firefox as the only browser left. and what will happen will be the same as 2002-03.

    Competition is always needed, without one no improvement can’t be achieved asap.

    IE has it’s own merit as a web browser.

  2. DavidB:

    Come on Dave, you REALLY would propose that MS not include a web browser with a future OS? If they cease develoment of IE, that is exactly what would happen, as I would bet MS would rather not release an updated OS than release one that has FireFox or Chrome or Safari or whatever as its browser.

  3. Fromage:

    Yeah, right.

    “We only have 60% market share, so we could as well just give up”

    I am amazed by the ignorance of this article.

  4. jan:

    Now this must the most stupidiest of all time. First he says it’s bad and slow and outdated and then asks what’s the point of fixing it? :’D

    WTF? Seriously.

    The leading program in browser wars and blogger asks what’s the point upgrading it? :D

  5. Hugh:

    @Fromage,

    ‘“We only have 60% market share, so we could as well just give up”’

    Have a look at a map showing how much of Europe Nazi Germany controlled in early 1943, at the time the 6th Army was annihilated at Stalingrad – it was a lot, wasn’t it? If Hitler had shown any sense, he would have sought terms at that point. It’s the same with IE – Microsoft are clearly unable to regain the initiative, and they have now been reduced to fighting a series of bitter rear-guard actions. Microsoft may delay the inevitable, but there is no doubt about the final outcome; so yes, it would make more sense if they cut their losses and surrendered (of course the collective egos of MS and their neurally-challenged fan base make it unlikely that they will follow this course of action).

    @Jan,

    “The leading program in browser wars [...]”

    Microsoft is really the McDonalds of the I.T. world isn’t it? It’s cr*p, it’s popular, and it’s bad for your health.

  6. Michael:

    Ie8 is actually a much better browser than most would think, I used to run firefox for awhile, but I changed back to 7 for a little and then to opera, opera is by far the nices browser I have used, but, I used 8 and it worked very good on my pc, so now here I am, through a beta and a RC and am still using 8, though opera 10 soon!

  7. Jan:

    I have every single major browser in my Vista and I hate them all with different reasons. Mainly I use Firefox but I hate how slow and sluggish it is and it’s youtube and flash support is broken every day so I have to start IE or Opera to get video stable played. Of course I don’t like IE8 too nor Opera which is huge dissapointmen nowadays compared to 3.61 version days but there is not really any better alternatives. If you don’t like microsoft, buy MAC because it’s really only alternative but if you like gaming, you havet to put Vista there too. Linux isn’t alternative for anything except net servers.

  8. Aquaadverse:

    I call Godwin on Hugh, who really needs to seek help on this unhealthy obsession of his. Don’t let it go untreated.

    I suggest watching Conspiracy Theory and Taxi Driver a dozen or so times to develop some perspective.

  9. The Big M:

    “I am amazed by the ignorance of this article.”

    I would be… but it’s par for the course for this author. Each new article seems to seek a new slant in a quest to bash MS.

  10. Hugh:

    @Aquaadverse,

    It seems that you are not well-versed in military history, or that you don’t appreciate apt analogies (perhaps both?).

    I suggest serious study to foster some erudition and discernment. You may be interested to know that books are a useful source of information, as opposed to movies (which these days are, in the main, “chewing gum for the mind”).

    For information regarding “unhealthy obsessions”, please see the entry under ‘Steve “I’m going to f***ing kill Google” Ballmer’.

  11. Aquaadverse:

    LOL. Yeah, Microsoft is going under any minute now.

    Did you lookup, Godwin?

  12. Jan:

    The Big M:

    I think Jonathan is even worse.

  13. Hugh:

    “LOL.”

    I assume that this is in response to my comment regarding Steve Ballmer (I’ll really miss him if he ever leaves MS; when he’s not indulging in bizarre behaviour he’s sticking his big foot in his even bigger mouth).

    “Yeah, Microsoft is going under any minute now.”

    So you don’t grasp the analogy. Never mind, here’s some historical background. The Germans invaded Poland in September 1939, and swept through that country in the first of their blitzkrieg campaigns. As a result of this Great Britain and France declared war on Germany. Norway, France and the Low Countries were all invaded by Germany in 1940, and were quickly overwhelmed (although the Germans didn’t occupy the Southern half of France until 1943). Germany had concluded an Anschluss with Austria in 1938 and had occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939, and was thus, by 1940, in control of much of continental Europe.

    Are you keeping up with me here?

    In June 1941, the Wehrmacht was turned loose against the Soviet Union, and in the early stages scored spectacular successes as huge battles of encirclement yielded hundreds of thousands of prisoners and resulted in the destruction or capture of thousands of artillery pieces, tanks and aircraft. The German armed forces were well trained, well equipped and well disciplined, and they were a juggernaut that apparently couldn’t be stopped.

    Then came Stalingrad. The 6th Army under Von Paulus was trapped in a pocket in that city by the Volga, and was eventually destroyed. Estimates of German losses vary, but appear to have been around 400,000 killed, captured or wounded.

    Stalingrad was the beginning of the end for the Third Reich. The German armed forces had finally been fought to a bloody standstill, and from this time on they were in decline, and, with a few exceptions, in retreat. However, it took another two and a half years for the Soviets to push the Wehrmacht all the way back to Berlin.

    I hope that clarifies matters for you – just because someone controls a lot of turf (or market share, as the case may be) doesn’t mean that they won’t lose in the end. It *may* mean that their eventual destruction (or perhaps marginalisation in the case of a company) will be a protracted affair, so I’m not claiming that the demise of Microsoft is imminent.

    Perhaps you can now see that the analogy is indeed apropos on a number of levels. As to Godwin, I assume you are aware that his law does not concern itself with whether a comparison with Hitler or the Nazis is befitting or not? (Although my example was really military rather than political; I could perhaps have drawn a comparison between Microsoft’s position and Napoleon’s ill-fated invasion of Russia, although I am less familiar with that particular period of history than I am with WWII).

  14. Aquaadverse:

    I got the analogy. It fails because you keep basing everything on the premise that Microsoft is only able to keep it’s position using force and coercion. It implies Microsoft is an army of jack booted SS IT troopers and developers kicking in doors and billions of people either cower in fear or lack your superior ability to see actual reality and process information.

    Or maybe there is a secret Microsoft death camp holding the wives, children and parents of IT and business executives to force them to comply.

    You continually post comments claiming Microsoft is irrelevant, doomed to fail by a thousand paper cuts and other rhetoric with no attempt to use any hard data to back it up.

    You stated in another thread that the data was likely to be corrupted or inaccurate, warped by Microsoft Shills (possibly wearing jackboots?) and paid off researchers.

    Balmer and Gates seem to be one dimensional versions of the Antichrist to you and you commented that Microsoft is run by liars and thieves.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law

    Godwin’s Law applies especially to inappropriate, inordinate, or hyperbolic comparisons of other situations (or one’s opponent) with Hitler or Nazis or their actions.

    There are ample examples of companies that held an overwhelming majority of a market. IBM, AT&T and even Apple in the early 1980′s.

    There is no reason to use an example implying Microsoft got to it’s current position devoid of merit. Antitrust is one thing.

    Atrocities and horrendous suffering and pain, brutalities, would seem to be inappropriate, inordinate, or hyperbolic comparisons of other situations (or one’s opponent) with Hitler or Nazis or their actions.

    As someone who had a Grandfather with a faded tattoo on his inner arm, I’m quite aware of the history of the Third Reich.

    There is little evidence of an empirical nature that Microsoft is in any major trouble. Gates made a wise decision when he decided early on to stake the future on software. Every vendor that made their own hardware, including Apple, is either gone or switched.

    It doesn’t matter if IE goes to zero share. They neither sell it separate or stop the other browsers from running on the Windows OS.

    Your analogy isn’t apt on any level because a switch in browsers doesn’t drive the army from holding the ground, condescending questions of my keeping up with your explanation aside. It would be the same with an example using Alexander the Great, Napoleon or Genghis Khan.

  15. Natonstan:

    I recon they should at least bring an updated version or even IE 9 when Windows 7 comes out, It would make sense but maybe making a 10 would be pointless unless they add a lot of stuff and finishing of a round number would be easier I suppose, and maybe they would change the name or something?

  16. medyum:

    Come on Dave, you REALLY would propose that MS not include a web browser with a future OS? If they cease develoment of IE, that is exactly what would happen, as I would bet MS would rather not release an updated OS than release one that has FireFox or Chrome or Safari or whatever as its browser.

  17. Deltadarklite:

    Hugh, The dynamics of WWII are not similar to the demise of MS. No political or military structure small or large has lasted forever. This in mind, a person is fairly safe saying MS will fall. The question is when and what brings about that fall. Germany’s troops were well trained etc. but fought polish troops that were still riding horses. The French based there defense on strategies of WWI(the Maginot line?). It would be more appropriate to look at these countries and how it caused them to restructure.

  18. Deltadarklite:

    Any business needs to adapt to the future. A simple plan to allow for the download of browser (from a Microsoft server) registration of the OS and you eliminate development costs associated with personal insurance trademarking and copyright infringement possibilities.

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