The browser wars just got interesting again…

Microsoft Windows Internet Explorer 8 logoIt’s well known that, after Microsoft won the “browser wars”, development of Internet Explorer (IE) all but stopped at a time when use of the Internet was exploding and new features were required to keep up to date with the emerging technologies (and standards). That’s why, a few years ago, I was only too happy to promote a viable alternative (i.e. Mozilla Firefox) and Firefox has come a long way since then. Mozilla Firefox logoUnfortunately, it’s not been a bed of roses. I lost too many open tabs to Firefox 1.5 and 2 crashes so these days I only use Firefox when I’m testing new code on my website – Safari (with all its faults) is the default browser on my Mac and IE7 is my normal browser on Windows.

Even so, if it hadn’t been for Firefox, it’s unlikely that Microsoft would have made the huge step forward that IE7 represents when compared with its predecessor. And, aside from the controversy over the various modes in which IE8 can work (I think that Microsoft made the right decision in allowing standards mode to be the default), it seems to be shaping up as another significant step forward for Microsoft (just as Firefox 3 is reported to have been for those who wish to use an alternative browser).

From my point of view, it can only be good that for the last few years there have been two major competitors for our web browsing – choice promotes competition – and competition generally leads to an improved user experience. The need to develop for multiple platforms encourages web developers to adopt standards (at least in part) and the days of “this site is best viewed with Netscape Navigator 4 or later at 800×600 resolution” are, thankfully, a distant memory (as I write this in a maximised browser on a 1680×1050 display).

Last week, Microsoft released a new beta of IE8 (beta 2), together with a fact sheet providing an overview of the new features and there is some really good stuff in there (the IEBlog post about IE8 beta 2 availability is worth a read too). Whereas beta 1 was targeted at developers, beta 2 is for anyone to look at. I’ll be installing it on my system (just as soon as I have worked through the seemingly never-ending list of tabs that I’m doing something with…).

Google Chrome logoThen yesterday, out of the blue came a new twist – it seems that, after much speculation, Google is to launch a beta of it’s own web browser today. Whereas IE 8 carries forward a legacy of backwards compatibility, and Firefox is struggling to win back the hearts and minds of those who were burned by buggy releases with poor memory management, Google Chrome is concentrating on serving the requirements that today’s rich Internet applications require, whilst remaining stable, fast, secure, and simple to use (see the Comic book for more information). Sounds like a tall order but, if anyone can do it, Google probably can.

It looks to me as though this just became a three horse race.

7 thoughts on “The browser wars just got interesting again…


  1. I ve been using Internet Explorer for last 6 yrs…my experience with has been great …… it has improved version after version… hope this one is much better than the last version….

    Jenny


  2. If you’re trying out the latest release of IE, I would love to hear your thoughts on Me.dium. A few days ago, we joined EBay,
    Amazon, Facebook, Digg and Yahoo as a featured partner for IE8’s Beta 2 launch.

    We are so thrilled to be part of IE8, as our goal is to make the internet a more social place. We’ve got a lot of exciting things going on like our What’s Hot WebSlice, Me.dium Discovery Accelerator,
    and Visual Search, (you can check out our search homepage at http://me.dium.com/search.)

    For all the details of Me.dium+IE8 take a look at
    http://blogme.dium.com/content/2008/08/medium-makes-hot-stuff-for-ie8/

    Thanks, and feel free to email me with any questions or thoughts on
    Me.dium: Jboyle@me.dium.com


  3. I’ve installed the Chrome and I like its minimal interface.

    On the other hand, it is a shame that Opera isn’t usually on these kind of race.
    I’m a mac user and I use Opera for some time now.
    Simple and practical features that where common in Opera start now to appear on other browsers, like the downloads stop and restart. Others are exclusive and very useful ones, like the Ctrl+Z, Paste and Go, Save notes, etc.

    I wish a good future to Opera.


  4. I like Chrome too – and it seems fast. Like Firefox v1.0 was ;-)

    As for Opera… it may be good but it’s just too small for anyone to worry that much about – I don’t know why it didn’t manage to capitalise on the IE bad days when Firefox took the market by storm but if I look at the webstats on this site for the last month, it shows that my visitors used:

    Internet Explorer – 52.26%
    Firefox – 38.61%
    Safari – 6.45%
    Opera – 1.92%
    Mozilla – 0.53%
    Konqueror – 0.08%
    …etc.

    Given that most people here are technical, I’d expect that the minority browser and Firefox use is higher here than for mainstream sites, where IE and Safari will battle it out depending on whether we’re talking about Windows or Mac users.


  5. This made me laugh… two days before Google announces Chrome, they tell us how IE8 makes IE look good again… fast forward a few days and we get the invisible browser (a rundown of what’s in Chrome). Interestingly, Google is playing down the rebirth of the browser wars:

    “Google’s browser might never become popular, even if it’s fast, stable and more secure than other browsers. The most important thing is that Google Chrome will certainly have an impact on the next versions of IE, Firefox, Opera, Safari. Even if you don’t have a Gmail account and you use Yahoo Mail or Hotmail, you benefited indirectly from Gmail’s breakthroughs. If Gmail is the invisible feature of Yahoo Mail and Hotmail, Google Chrome could be the signal that browsers need to become platforms for web applications.”


  6. I definitely vote for Chrome! All sites load faster than other browsers and the simple interface have what it needs. It´s also perfect when I play a browser game, because it´s fast and it makes more use of the screen size. Go Chrome!

Leave a Reply