Google’s recent announcement that it has updated its Chrome Web browser with new add-ons to extend its functionality and has optimized the browser for use as a native desktop client is the latest threat to the dominance of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.
Now developers can tweak the Chrome browser as they see fit to create an experience that they’re trying to achieve. That update comes on the heels of Google offering a new service called Chrome Frame, which is embedded into Internet Explorer, providing its users with a far better browsing experience.
All of this is part of Google’s strategy to capture browser market share away from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. But that’s not all. Mozilla’s Firefox browser also provides a unique, worthwhile experience that goes above and beyond the simplicity of Internet Explorer. Together, Chrome and Firefox are offering a viable alternative to Internet Explorer.
But Microsoft’s browser is still tops in the market. And so far, Google’s Chrome browser hasn’t been able to make nearly as much headway as Firefox in its battle with Microsoft. But that doesn’t mean it will stay that way forever. Quite the contrary, there are real opportunities for both Chrome and Firefox to cause some real trouble for Microsoft.
1. Internet Explorer is slow
One of the biggest advantages Google’s Chrome browser enjoys is its speed. It’s widely considered one of the fastest browsers on the market and in most tests, it easily eclipses Internet Explorer. It also does well against Mozilla’s Firefox browser. Online, the value of a browser is most commonly associated with its ability to deliver Web pages as quickly and efficiently as possible. Considering Chrome can do that better than the competition, Microsoft might need to worry.
2. Extensions are important
Although Microsoft does offer some add-ons for its browser, Firefox’s focus on working with developers to extend the functionality of its browser far beyond opening and closing Web pages is important in the space. Google is even getting in on the action, offering more extensions than ever. Add-ons improve the browsing experience. They’re used by millions of people. And so far, it’s Mozilla that has cornered the market in that space.
3. Open source, anyone?
Although it’s against almost everything Microsoft stands for, making Internet Explorer open source might not be the worst move it could make. Both Firefox and Chrome are open-source software. They allow the community to improve the browser, plug security holes quicker, and in the end, give that community ownership in their products. It helps to see improvements to browsers much sooner than closed software. It’s a key success factor in the marketplace that Microsoft isn’t capitalizing on.
4. Beware of native apps
Microsoft has been so successful because Internet Explorer comes bundled with every computer outfitted with its operating system. But that doesn’t mean Microsoft will hold on to that advantage indefinitely.
Explorer Faces Threats on Multiple Fronts
Sony currently bundles Chrome, along with Internet Explorer, into all the VAIO computers it sells. If it proves successful and users are happy with the browser, it could come bundled in Dell, HP, and Acer machines sooner than Microsoft might like. And that could cause a real problem for the software giant.
5. Design is important
One of the biggest issues some users have with Internet Explorer is that it doesn’t quite feature the design users covet. That said, both Firefox and Chrome do have a more intuitive design that appeals to those who want a simple, efficient browsing experience. It has come back to haunt Microsoft in the past. And it looks like that issue will continue going forward.
6. Security matters
Microsoft has always struggled with providing users the most secure experience on the Web. For years, Internet Explorer was a hotbed of security issues. It has gotten better in recent years, but the trouble still remains. And as both Firefox and Chrome do a better job of securing computers, it is possible that Microsoft will suffer.
7. Google is Google
It might sound awkward to discuss the differences between two major tech firms, but there’s little debating that Google has its pulse on what users want. It arguably understands that better than Microsoft. For the most part, Google products are simple, efficient, useful, and reliable. Internet Explorer doesn’t always fit that bill. Chrome usually does. It’s a problem for Microsoft.
8. Internet Explorer leaves much to be desired
Although Microsoft has done a good job of improving Internet Explorer over the past few years, it’s still lacking many of the features that users covet in other browsers. Worst of all, some of the features it does have (tabbed browsing, for one) don’t quite live up to the benchmark its competitors have created.
9. The Halo Effect is strong
Microsoft has made billions of dollars relying upon the halo effect — people using a company product and buying its other products because they were happy with the first device. But in recent years, Microsoft has lost some of its appeal to users. And all the while, it has been Google that has increased its own appeal. Right now, more users than ever are using Google Search. Those same people are moving to Gmail and Google Docs. It’s only a matter of time before they see value in Chrome and try that out. Microsoft should be concerned.
10. Google and Mozilla “get” the average user
Say what you will about Google and Mozilla, but they both have shown with their browsers that they “get” the average user. They understand what it takes to make users happy. And they constantly find ways to improve their browsers to ensure it stays that way. The same isn’t necessarily true with Internet Explorer. Going forward, that could cause some serious trouble for Microsoft’s browser.