10 Reasons Why Firefox Could Beat Microsoft Internet Explorer

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-03-23 Print this article Print

News Analysis: Mozilla's Firefox browser might not have the market share Microsoft's Internet Explorer currently does, but as the European Union continues to shift browser choice to Internet Explorer alternatives, it might be Mozilla's Firefox browser that could finally beat out Internet Explorer.

Although the Windows Web browser choice screen, which allows European Windows users to choose which Web browser they would like to use, started just a few weeks ago, already Microsoft is losing market share to the competition.

It seems that although Microsoft's browser is the most recognizable and the majority of the market uses it, the tides are slowly changing. For once, Microsoft's dominant share of the market might be buckling under the pressure of availability of competing browsers.

As that continues, it might be Mozilla's Firefox browser that could enjoy the strongest growth as a result of the European Union's ruling. Mozilla's browser is the second most popular browser in the world, trailing only Internet Explorer for the crown.

And although its market share is significantly lower than that of Microsoft's, the European Union is a collection of major countries with hundreds of millions of users. As more and more of those users decide against Internet Explorer in favor of Firefox or another browser, it shouldn't take too long for Microsoft's share to come back down to more beatable levels. That's when Firefox can capitalize.

Let's take a look at why Microsoft needs to worry about Firefox.

1. It has substantial market share already

If Mozilla had just a little market share like many of its smaller competitors, the chances of the browser beating Internet Explorer would be extremely slim. But that's not the case. Currently, Mozilla has over 20 percent market share in the space. And that number is growing by the day, now that Microsoft is forced to give European users the option of choosing their desired browser. The more Mozilla gains market share and attracts European users, the more dangerous it will be for Microsoft.

2. Extensions

Part of Mozilla's appeal is its library of extensions. Users can easily find extensions ranging from business integration to social networks that extend the functionality of the browser far beyond its default installation. Extensions can't be underestimated. If users can find value in their extensions, they won't leave Firefox. It's a major advantage to have as Microsoft is losing its own users.

3. It's open source

Although the average, mainstream user might not care about Mozilla being open source, it really does matter. Open-source software is widely considered superior to closed applications, thanks to the ability for the entire community to work on improving a single piece of software. Closed software, like Internet Explorer, is a different story altogether. Since it's closed software that only Microsoft can work on, it lacks the benefit of having thousands of eyes working on improving it. The browser is also a major target for hackers.

4. Security

Speaking of hackers, Mozilla's Firefox browser is hailed as a relatively secure browser compared with much of the competition in the marketplace. That's an important distinction. One of the main issues most users have with Internet Explorer is its poor security. The company also waits too long to update software when security issues arise. Mozilla doesn't suffer from the same issue. By tapping into the vast knowledge of the open-source community, the company usually updates Firefox more proactively. Plus, thanks to a better core design, the browser is just inherently more secure. If security is what users are after, Firefox isn't a bad choice.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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