The bad news just keeps coming for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer platform. After being forced by the European Union to give Windows users the option of downloading other browsers besides its own, Microsoft has had to stand by and watch as the market share for Internet Explorer, once the overwhelmingly dominant browser in the market with more than 90 percent market share, dipped below 60 percent. If the trend continues, as is expected, it might only be a matter of time before a majority of people around the globe are using other browsers than Internet Explorer.
It’s a sad reality for Redmond. For years, Internet Explorer has been the company’s main grasp on Web dominance. By deciding how people access the Internet, Microsoft could have some influence over the search engines and start pages people originally used when they booted up the browser for the first time.
Those folks might have changed default settings, but many others did not. And it ensured that Microsoft would stay relevant online in the face of powerful competitors, such as Google and Yahoo. But those days are slowly coming to an end as Web users realize that there are other options out there that might satisfy their desire far more effectively than Microsoft’s browser. Simply put, Internet Explorer’s dominance is coming to a close. And here’s why:
1. The European Union
If we can cite just one reason for why Internet Explorer is experiencing so much trouble right now, it’s undoubtedly because of the European Union. For years, the continent’s governing body has had its sights set on Microsoft and how it does business. But when it turned its attention to Internet Explorer and forced Redmond to offer Windows users browser options, it was the beginning of the end for the venerable software. Suddenly, those who didn’t know where to find other browsers were given options. And those that were tired of using Internet Explorer were able to easily move on. The European Union almost single-handedly took down Internet Explorer.
2. Microsoft’s complacency
At the same time, Microsoft has been far too complacent with Internet Explorer. Over the years, Microsoft has seemingly believed that its browser’s success would only continue, never appreciating the effect Firefox or even Google Chrome could have on market share. It was a faulty belief. By being complacent, Microsoft didn’t invest enough into Internet Explorer. It also failed to adequately determine what the changing consumer opinion meant for its market share. Over time, users have wanted new and useful features and Microsoft, unwilling to acquiesce to those demands, is feeling the negative result of that now.
3. Internet Explorer’s security
For a while, Internet Explorer was one of the most worrisome Microsoft products available. The browser allowed in a slew of malicious bugs that wreaked havoc on Windows PCs. In recent years, Microsoft has done a better job of securing Internet Explorer, but the damage is already done. We also can’t forget that the company’s browser still isn’t the most secure browser on the market. Realizing that, consumers might be opting for alternatives that, they believe, will offer more security. Although it’s tough to say exactly what has caused users to opt for other browsers, Internet Explorer’s security is surely not helping matters.
4. Rebounding from IE 6
Most of those security issues started with Internet Explorer 6. Microsoft’s browser was supposed to be the next big thing in the browser market. And for a while, it was. Even today’s it’s still widely used by people around the world. But it was also one of the worst software products Microsoft has ever released. It was rife with security problems, poorly designed, and failed to deliver the features that users wanted. For many, they used Internet Explorer 6 out of necessity. But once more options were made available that offered the same level of productivity, they quickly jumped ship. Internet Explorer 6 could have been the beginning of the end for Microsoft’s browser division.
No-Name Browsers Chip Away at Internet Explorer
5. The features aren’t there
As popular as Internet Explorer still is, it just doesn’t boast the features that users really want. After years of waiting, Microsoft added tabs, but they don’t work as well as Firefox’s tab functionality. The browser even has extensions, but they pale in comparison to Firefox’s add-ons. Internet Explorer is slow compared to Chrome, ugly compared to Safari, and still a security issue. The enterprise might still call it the preferred browser, but the consumer world is quickly jumping ship because of those major feature issues. It might only be a matter of time before the corporate world follows suit.
6. The Google conundrum
Google mystifies Microsoft. The software giant has been trying for years to find the search company’s soft underbelly and capitalize. But so far, it hasn’t been able to do so. That’s especially true in the browser market. Although Google’s Chrome browser is still far behind Internet Explorer, it’s gaining ground at an astounding rate. It might only be a matter of time before it takes the second spot in the browser market, putting it within striking distance of Internet Explorer. That would be disastrous for Microsoft. The company might be able to fend off a small company, like Mozilla, but in a fight against Google, the company that has beaten it every step of the way so far, its prospects might not be so great.
7. The united fight against Microsoft
As much of a threat as Google is, Internet Explorer’s issues can be directly attributed to the united fight companies like Mozilla, Opera and even Apple have started against Microsoft. As Internet Explorer’s market share has slipped throughout the years, its much smaller competitors have gained. They’ve done so by taking aim at Microsoft every step of the way to make it clear to users that maybe Internet Explorer really isn’t the best option.
8. The educated user
As users became more educated, Internet Explorer’s market share declined. For years, folks used Internet Explorer because that was the browser they used at work and they were comfortable with it. But as Firefox started to gain traction, consumers quickly realized that there were other browsers out there that might satisfy them. As that happened, Internet Explorer started losing market share. Educated users saw Internet Explorer for what it was. And as those folks learn more about the industry, it will only hurt Microsoft’s browser going forward.
9. No-names are actually doing well
Although it’s easy to do so, we can’t simply say that the browser market is the home of another battle between Microsoft and Google. Right now, Google’s market share is extremely low compared to the leaders. But it’s the success of the so-called, no-names, like Mozilla and Opera, that have caused Internet Explorer so much trouble over the years. Mozilla and Opera simply don’t have the name recognition that Microsoft and Google do. For a while, that helped Internet Explorer. But as their names became synonymous with reliability, their popularity rose. And in the process, Microsoft lost market share. It’s never good when an entrenched, well-known competitor is allowing unknown companies steal market share.
10. Microsoft is still lost on the Web
A contributing factor to Microsoft’s troubles with Internet Explorer can be directly attributed to the company’s inability to find the right strategy on the Internet. If nothing else, Google has shown that when used properly, a browser can actually enhance a company’s success with its Web services. For years, Microsoft has failed to find that formula. When Internet Explorer was hovering around 90 percent market share, Microsoft should have used that to help its online services. It didn’t. And now, it’s wondering why it didn’t make an online push sooner, since Internet Explorer is losing ground at a steady rate.