Browser Market Shifting to Open Source?

by on January 4, 2009 » Add the first comment.

News is spreading about the NetApplications report showing IE has dropped below 70% market share with Firefox taking just over 20% and Safari at over 7%. I must not have been paying attention because I was assuming IE still had 80-85%. Looks like we’re well on our way to having Open Source dominate browser usage.

browsers

This may be a result of the hatred for Vista out there (check out Vista Boomers – Microsofts Power Outage from A.P. Lawrence). And with Google anxious to enter this market, their (IE) goose will be cooked before you know it. Maybe some day, web developers will be able to not care so much if their sites don’t display properly in browsers (IE) that don’t conform to web standards.

I’m still shocked whenever I see how much Netscape has tanked from their dominance. Though I suppose they should partially get the credit for what eventually became Firefox (Mozilla started as a Netscape project).

I think it will still be a while before much of the [Windows] enterprise shifts totally away from IE. One big reason is because IE is updated with Windows Update and managed centrally with WSUS at most Windows sites and so they can ensure it is patched (even if a patched version is more vulnerable than an unpatched Firefox). No other browser is centrally updated without third party software (we use LANDesk to push Firefox and Safari updates). Also, there are still too many web apps that rely on IE technologies such as ActiveX. Which I think is ridiculous in this day and age. Many enterprises also like IE because of its integration with AD and kerberos (at least in an AD environment).  But these developers are eventually going to realize that no good comes from sites and apps that require closed sourced crap like IE. Just look at how much trouble the grants.gov IE requirement has caused in the past. Many research institutions have had to deploy Citrix solutions to make grants.gov available to their Mac and Linux using researchers. This has cost a fortune, all for something that could have been developed with open source technologies. Note: much of grants.gov now uses Adobe Reader which isn’t much better with their strict requirements on specific versions of Reader.

We have encouraged all of our users to use Firefox or Safari whenever possible but there are still many users who insist on using IE for whatever reason. Some of them simply use it because it’s what they’re used to.

Have you been able to move your Windows user away from IE? What challenges have you encountered? Drop a comment below.

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