The European Union announced Dec. 16 that it has officially dropped charges against Microsoft after the software giant agreed to give consumers the option to use up to 12 different browsers in Windows. It's a major victory for those who have fought Microsoft's practices. It's also good news for Internet Explorer competitors such as Mozilla and Opera Software that have been fighting to take market share away from Microsoft's browser.
But it's bad news for Microsoft. The company really had no other option but to work out a deal with the European Union. Microsoft knew that no matter the outcome, it wouldn't help Internet Explorer solidify its position as the leader in browser market in Europe and elsewhere.
As Mozilla's Firefox browser continues to capture more of the market and Google's Chrome OS quietly chips away at IE's share, the European Union defeat is looking like a major problem for Microsoft. It likely won't be the end of Internet Explorer, but it could certainly lead to the end of IE's dominance. Here's why:
1. Windows was a key to its success
One of the main reasons Internet Explorer has been such a success is Windows. By bundling the browser with the operating system, Microsoft made it so users didn't have to think twice about getting onto the Web. Once an Internet connection was ready, they only needed to open Internet Explorer and surf to their favorite sites. Those days are now gone. And so is Internet Explorer's built-in advantage.
2. The choices keep coming
There is no shortage of viable alternatives to Internet Explorer. Firefox has its extensions. Opera has its usability. Chrome has its speed. Safari has Apple's reputation. There are so many good choices on the market that Internet Explorer, with its sometimes suspect performance, is being recognized as a less-than-ideal option.
3. Internet Explorer is having some trouble
Speaking of which, Internet Explorer has faced some serious PR problems in the past couple of years that have hindered its growth. Too often, the browser has been cited as an entryway for malware. And considering the fact that Internet Explorer lacks the sheer number of add-ons that users can find in Firefox, it's no wonder that folks are switching browsers.
4. Google is making Chrome part of its strategy
Unlike any other company, Microsoft is deathly afraid of what Google can do. Google knows it. And the search giant has its sights firmly set on Microsoft's core businesses. A key component in that strategy is Chrome. Google realizes that all of its future goals hinge on the success or failure of its browser. That's why it has released Chrome for Mac OS X. It's also why its new operating system is based on Chrome. The world is waiting on Chrome, not Internet Explorer.