Is Microsoft Internet Explorer Really the Best Browser for the Enterprise?

NEWS ANALYSIS: Microsoft Internet Explorer isn't the best browser on the market, but it's still leading the way. What will it take to finally get Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser to lose significant ground in the enterprise? Will Firefox, Chrome or Safari challenge IE in the enterprise?

A recent StatCounter report revealed an interesting shift in the browser market. According to the research firm, both Internet Explorer 6 and Internet Explorer 7 are losing market share at an astounding rate, while Internet Explorer 8 and Firefox 3 are gaining ground.
StatCounter's research found Internet Explorer 7 now enjoys 30.61 percent of the market, while Internet Explorer 6 controls 8.74 percent. Internet Explorer 8 now holds 15.4 percent of the browser market. All told, Microsoft's three most recent browser releases have captured almost 55 percent of the entire browser market. Compare that to Mozilla's Firefox browser, which now controls 27.73 percent of the market, as well as browsers from Google, Opera, and Apple, which have yet to climb out of single digits, and it becomes clear that Microsoft is still far ahead in the browser space.
But just how long that might last is up for debate. Just last year, Microsoft owned 78 percent of the browser market. Mozilla's Firefox browser had just 18.2 percent market share. In just over six months, that browser has been able to capture a significant portion of the space, while Microsoft has lost some of its influence.
It might get worse. After losing an antitrust battle, Microsoft won't even ship Internet Explorer in European editions of its Windows 7 operating system. And with new security issues arising almost every week against Internet Explorer, some IT managers are realizing that having employees use Internet Explorer might not be the best option. Although Internet Explorer 8 is an admittedly more robust browser, it's still less appealing than it should be.

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But does that really matter? Even though Google's Chrome browser is faster than Internet Explorer, Apple's Safari 4 browser is more lightweight, and Firefox contains all the elements it takes to be a fine browser for business customers, most companies are still using Microsoft software to surf the Web. Part of that might be due to company-specific applications that need Internet Explorer to run, but it might also be because of convenience. Since Windows PCs ship with Internet Explorer installed, it doesn't take much to get employees online. And considering most of them use Internet Explorer at home, asking them to use a browser they're familiar with is much easier than training them on Firefox, Chrome or any other browser.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...