Analysts: IE won't be easy to defeat

"Overwhelming dominance" of Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser will be difficult to topple, in spite of attempts by competitors such as Firefox and Chrome.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

Alternative browsers such as Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, may be aimed at toppling Microsoft's reign, but analysts say Internet Explorer's (IE) "overwhelming dominance" in the workplace will be difficult to defeat.

The main reason for the Microsoft browser's seemingly stranglehold position is the near ubiquity of Microsoft products used in enterprises today.

Ray Valdes, Gartner's research vice president, said in an interview with ZDNet Asia: "Due to longstanding accumulations of dependencies, most enterprises will find it difficult or unfeasible to switch from Internet Explorer to an alternative browser, such as Firefox, Opera or Safari."

Valdes said it would be "difficult, if not impossible" for the average organization to abandon IE in favor of these alternative browsers. He noted that many software systems and applications are dependent on IE's HTML rendering engine embedded into other Microsoft applications, such as e-mail client Microsoft Outlook.

Another driving aspect is IE's administrative functions that allow enterprises to centrally manage and administer the browser, Valdes added. "Unlike Firefox, Microsoft provides mechanisms that meet this requirement, such as group policy objects and the Internet Explorer Administration Kit (IEAK).

"A key enterprise requirement is the ability to centrally manage and administer the browser... As a result, for many organizations, abandoning IE and replacing it with another browser is unrealistic," he said.

Through these management tools, for example, companies can more efficiently control user access and better manage security policies related to Web browsing.

According to IDC, IE's dominance is also perpetuated by the rest of the IT industry, creating a cyclical relationship.

Because IE currently has the dominant marketshare, makers of Web sites, software applications and other components that are accessible via a Web browser, will place the highest priority on ensuring their products support IE, Mark Levitt, IDC's program vice president for collaboration and enterprise 2.0 strategies, told ZDNet Asia.

While new features offered in Firefox or Chrome could help propel either browser's position, if they showed "sufficient advantages over IE", Levitt said Microsoft would unlikely give the competition enough time to close the gap before it releases similar features for IE.

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