Open source browsers put pressure on IE in 2009

Open source browsers put pressure on IE in 2009

Summary: Microsoft's ability to hold off open source rivals is weakening.Even as its proprietary browser market share is dropping hard, execs agreed to offer support for competitive browsers with its Windows operating system in exchange for an end to its legal nightmares in Europe.


Microsoft's ability to hold off open source rivals is weakening.

Even as its proprietary browser market share is dropping hard, execs agreed to offer support for competitive browsers with its Windows operating system in exchange for an end to its legal nightmares in Europe.

It's a win for the community in Europe but I'm not sure the open source rivals need the help. According to Net Applications' statistics, Microsoft's Internet Explorer market share has dropped more than 5 percent to 64 percent since January of 2009. Its share was roughly 70 percent at the start of the year, and it was at 75 percent in mid 2008.

Its share has fallen mostly to the two leading open source browsers, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. Google's Chrome has increased to 4 percent market share from 1.5 percent at the start of 2009.  Google's browser -- whose use will no doubt increase after the release of the complementary Google operating system late next year -- was first released in September of 2008.  Not bad for 14 months on the market.

Meanwhile, market share of the leading open source browser, Mozilla Firefox, climbed to roughly 25 percent over the past year, also up 3 percentage points to 24.72 percent in November. Its share was 22 percent at the beginning of this year.

Opera stayed roughly the same with two percent market share, according to Net Applications. [Correction: Opera is not an open source browser, as this story claimed earlier and as one reader pointed out as incorrect. My regrets for the error.]

The days of Internet Explorer's dominance appear to be waning. Of course, Microsoft's Windows operating system monopoly still owns the market, but we're not sure how long that will matter, especially as software-as-a-service models take off and Google's web-focused operating system is prepped for release.

As Microsoft's grip on the browser market loosens, opportunities for open source rivals are blossoming. It will be interesting to see which of the two top open source browsers benefits most in 2009.

Topics: Browser, Google, Microsoft, Open Source, Operating Systems

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  • Opera is NOT open source

    Errm, Paula, FYI, Opera is "free to use", but is not open source...Opera IS the reason for the EU's ruling on the "ballot box" resolution.
    • I agree

      You can't find the source code for Opera, so it is as open source as IE is.
      Linux Geek
    • RE: Open source browsers put pressure on IE in 2009

      Of course, Microsofts Windows operating system monopoly still owns the market, but were not sure how long that will matter, especially as software-as-a-service models take off and Googles web-focused operating system is prepped for release.<a href=""><font color="LightGrey"> k</font></a>
      • RE: Open source browsers put pressure on IE in 2009

        @zakkiromi Thanks for sharing. i really appreciate it that you shared with us such a informative post..
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  • Sorry Paula, software-as-a-service

    is not going to take off as you believe, so Google's web based OS isn't going to be much of a game changer for anyone other then Canonical or the like.

    Agreed, it will serve a niche but beyond that, nothing more.
    John Zern
    • SaaS not taking off

      John - It's not a matter of IF SaaS is going to dominate, it's a matter of when. It dominates some markets already, just ask Oracle/Siebel Systems how they feel about In the elearning market, LMS market share is barely changing but we are growing our SaaS product by 16%-22% each month.
    • Interesting to learn

      How mistaken are the CIOs and others that are charged with purchase decisions. Glad to know we have you to set the record straight.

      I just returned from a breakfast panel representing NASA, DISA, DOE and DHS. All are pushing ahead with S-A-A-S as an imperative to meet responsiveness, affordability, scalability, security and sustainability demands, as the public and Congressional overseers demand ever more from public systems. These guys are closely attuned to their industry counterparts; industry is more close-mouthed in public for competitive reasons, but shares one-on-one, so we get a good read on their thinking. Over 300, including the usual curmudgeons, in the audience, and not one questioned the overall direction. Plenty of questions about the how's but none of whether's.

      But you now offer us the definitive pronouncement that time's arrow will not move forward.

      How fortunate we are!

      Now where did I put that punched card deck?
      • When companies start having problems

        with SaaS, because of problems outside their control, you may see companies going back to stand-along software. Internet goes down, SaaS company gets hit with a DDos, the company's data's is stolen. Can you imagine a lawyer's case being stolen because they used Google docs, and the perp posted it over the net? The list goes on and on.

        I've used SaaS in the past three years and I can tell you this. It's a major joke so far. Half the time, the software works ONLY in IE (And I detest using IE because of the security hazards). When the data is time critical, it's delayed because you need a password to get into the site. Not to mention the SaaS I've been forced to use is so inflexible, it wants to reject any data that isn't within a very narrow range or will not allow blank fields - especially on data that cannot or should not be filled.

        Other problems; you need some sort of proprietary plug in, or some sort of proprietary software that needs installed first. (Which runs the risk of malware - think Sony's root-kit). All this could be solved, if the web site/programmers listened to their clients. But do they?

        Bah. Give me even MS Office over SaaS. (Although I'd use OpenOffice myself.)

        - Kc
        • I notice you qualified your statement

          with the word "may," so there's no argument here. Otherwise, I might point out that you've made the assumption that a data center run by a company in another line of business could do a better job of ensuring connectivity, avoiding DDos, preventing data from being stolen, etc, than a huge firm specializing in these services. Yeah, believe it.

          The challenges you've pointed out in your experience - requiring IE, the password implementation, slow and inflexible, requiring proprietary plug in - are manifestations of implementation decisions made by a particular vendor. I agree; avoid that vendor.

          Let's see - you're going to run enterprise applications with MS Office? I would be interested in that architectural model.
    • SaaS ... in my opinion has a long way to go

      but eventually - yes it will be viable. And a lot of people are putting a lot of faith in Google OS... They have a long way to go to hit something like Apple/MS/Linux have. Google is starting to have the same KneePad crowd as Apple...kind of funny
    • Not a niche ...

      The majority of users spend their time online. Their requirements are not as sophisticated as those in a corporation or tech firms. Google docs already satisfy the needs of people who do not have need for high security or absolute privacy.

      Look at Facebook and Twitter. People want to be out there - reading, chatting, sharing. I believe it will the other way round - sophisticated and specialized software installed locally in computers will serve special needs of the minority of users in the future.
    • SAAS will dominate in the long run but not atop a Google OS style OS.

      Googles long term problem is its basically flawed cloud network model.

      This embryonic cloud based noosphere we all call the internet is just a
      single instance of a general class of processes that have been called
      COMPLEX LIVING SYSTEMS. After millions of years of statistical trial an
      error nature has blazed the trail to demonstrate the recurring themes
      that appear to be mandatory for successful homeostasis in such
      systems. With out going into a long song and dance about these
      recurring mandatory attributes, I will simple beg that you temporarily
      humor me by accepting the following as one of these mandatory
      attributes. COMPLEX LIVING SYSTEMS utilize distributed redundancy of
      function as their key defense against the inevitable errors that arise out
      of massive complexity. Every LIVING CELL carries the complete DNA
      methods blueprint plus historical fall back DNA. Every INDIVIDUAL
      ORGANISM in a species carries the complete repertoire of
      environmental interactive attributes and abilities(methods). Even at the
      simpler atomic level every atom contain, internal to itself, all the
      methods required to behave and recombine repeatably as a member of
      its class should. None of the above individual members of a class must
      check back with the mother ship to access its behavioral methods. They
      are all locally redundant.

      Back to Googles flawed Cloud Network Model.
      Sooner or lated the evolution of network computing models will return
      to this time tested strategic necessity. This means in the context of
      cloud computing that each user node must keep all its methods and
      data structures locally self contained so as to support independent,
      organic, recombinant, evolutionary possibilities separate from those
      enforced by a central mother ship repository of acceptable methods.
      The user nodes can self operate when not connected. The user nodes
      can move their complete methods & data set realities to another
      mother ship server at will. The user nodes can reassemble a mother
      ship's data and methods central repository as an ultimate backup to
      catastrophe. This in no way precludes the user nodes from choosing to
      update and synchronize their methods and/or local data sets with the
      central cloud mother ship either automatically or manually. Local
      autonomy of methods and data sets also offer the choice to keep local
      versioning of methods and data sets as a fall back autonomy insurance
      strategy. I could go on but I am sure you tire! I know I do.

      Anyway - here is where both Apple and Microsoft have a long term
      serious advantage over Google OS. They have deep and wide OS tools
      that can support this necessity to maintain a strategy of distributed
      autonomous methods and data sets. A strategy nature historically
      seems to indicate is the proven path to creating STABLE COMPLEX
      LIVING SYSTEMS. No non-compliant systems get out alive.

      Oh - One last thing!
      I am not particularly a Microsoft fan but we should not count them out.
      With new more visionary leadership they could be a serious contender.
      They have a large talented team and a very valuable store of intellectual
      capital. A serious three way race would be the Holy Trinity of
      competitive innovation.
  • Net Applicationds doesn't measure...

    My understanding is that Net Applications just measures usage share on selected public internet sites.

    It doesn't measure web browser usage on companies internal networks. In that sector, it's a safe bet that IE will continue to dominate.
    • Disagree

      I disagree with your statement. If the company I work for is any indication (and it's a very large software vendor), over half of the employees use Firefox.
  • Microsoft is not offering support for competing browsers ...

    ... as your story appears to imply. Microsoft is simply supplying a browser "ballot" allowing users to select a browser when installing the OS. All support for competing browsers will come from the competing browser companies, not Microsoft.
    Confused by religion
  • Its about choice

    I am notice more and more people using firefox on various platforms and for various reasons. I think when people begin to understand they have a choice the use of "built in" browsers will drop dramatically.

    I would like to see a survey of internet user 16-30 years of age and what browsers they use the most.
  • It's all about stupidity and FUD

    What are my options?

    I can use a browser installed with my global OS (let's ignore the fringe players) that was developed by the people who wrote the OS and have the best software engineers, quality systems and lots of development money. It's also by design more secure than most of the other browsers.


    I can go through the extra effort to download another browser from either people developing in a garage or other proprietary companies that have less experience than MS and clouded motives (want my demographic data do you Google?).

    The only reason for the growth of FF is just uninformed FUD from bloggers and ABMers. Ask anyone who's using FF why they are doing it and 9 times out of 10 it will be because an uninformed mate told them (incorrectly) that it was more secure than IE.

    Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain...
    • Really?

      There are 3 unpatched security holes in IE 8

      There are 0 unpatched security holes in Firefox 3.5

      Which one is more secure?
      • There are 0 unpatched security holes in Opera 10.x

        And for us happily using the 2% market share option
    • I use FireFox

      I use it because I still use WinXP Pro and any flavor of IE (6-8) is less secure than FireFox running with AddBlock Plus and NoScript.

      Not to mention that my experience with IE 8 in the Win 7 RC was that is was clunky and tuned specifically to MS services and search. I found it difficult to use and completely annoying at best.

      So I will continue to use FireFox and you can go right on ahead and use IE all you want. I don't like it. Period.