Some people may have been surprised when Microsoft started to push Internet Explorer (IE) 9 out early. I wasn’t. Why not? Because Firefox 4 has been kicking the stuffings out of IE 9 in adoption rates.
As Asa Dotzler, Mozilla Director of Community Development, recently wrote, “So what explains this disparity? It's you all. It's every one of you that downloaded Firefox 4, found it to be awesome, and told all of your friends and family about it. No ad campaign from Microsoft can top that. Keep spreading the word. Firefox answers to no one but you!”
There you have it. IE 9 is indeed a far better Web browser than IE 8, but there are also lots of reasons to consider skipping IE 9 for an alternative browser. Firefox 4 is a darn good replacement for IE and Chrome 10 is also a great Web browser. In short, there's really no compelling reason to have to stick with Microsoft's default Vista and Windows 7 Web browser.
There is one other reason though why IE 9 isn't doing as well as Microsoft would like. IE 9 won't run on Windows XP. Period. Full stop. End of statement. Microsoft may hate it, but the bottom line is that most Windows users are still using XP and that means they'll never be running IE 9.
In the overall scheme of thing, IE is still the dominant, but declining, Web browser, while Firefox has been holding its own and Chrome has been picking up steam. I expect that sometime in 2012, Chrome will be the number two browser after IE.
I think it’s also possible though that Firefox and Chrome will be fighting it out for first place with IE lagging behind in 3rd place. Oh, on the Windows desktops, IE will probably still be number one for years still to come, but the world doesn’t work just on Windows desktops any more. Users are quickly moving to tablets, like the Apple iPad, and smartphones, powered by iOS or Android, to do their work. And, away from the desktop, IE has no presence at all to speak of.
Who can blame Microsoft for wanting to inflate their IE numbers while the Windows desktop is still the number one end-user platform? The way things are going, IE may not have a chance to gather users for much longer.