I considered some time ago as to why Internet Explorer had such a dominance over the market, even with the growing number of open-source users turning to Firefox. After I ended my rocky relationship with the controversial browser, Firefox continues to develop and grow ever stronger. With the release of the latest version, Firefox 3.5, I now question whether universities and other workplaces can wean themselves off their Internet Explorer dependency.
"The reason is updating and security. Updating Internet Explorer is far simpler for university departments which control the IT systems, because it can be updated using Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) with little effort. Updating Firefox or other browsers isn’t as easy due to the lack of installation files (apparently)."
In my experience, there is no particular other reason as to why Internet Explorer is default, and you'll find many computers offer Firefox in the Start menu. But what's actually new in Firefox 3.5 and what should we start looking out for?
Aesthetically very little has changed on the face of things. The interface still looks, feels and reacts as it should do and as it previously has done. Add-ons have caused some people problems with a number of additional features which can be installed don't seem to be compatible with this version. However, as Firefox is a growing force in the browser war, developers of these add-ons will no doubt be updating their programs relatively soon.
Personally, I had almost no problems. There was one add-on which wasn't compatible, but out of the eight that I had, this isn't too bad.
HTML 5 standards are part of Firefox 3.5's release which adds storage facilities to web applications to enable them to work offline. With web applications, such as GMail or WordPress, being common in usage on the web nowadays, the need to keep these applications going whilst an Internet connection isn't present can be vital to productivity.
Privacy controls have been "snatched" from Internet Explorer, competing almost with their InPrivate mode, with a new feature which prevents history from being recorded and cookies from being added, ensuring you can surf in anonymity. I do hope though, people aren't too naive to believe that they can truly browse in anonymity...
Even with these new features in consideration - can universities wean themselves off Internet Explorer in favour of alternative browsers? I think not. The reason I feel to be the kicker is the bi-perspective of the public facing view and the behind-the-scenes view, in that the network administrators would prefer an easier life to that of the user getting the full experience they want. If the mentality of, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" is itself broken, perhaps the shift in browser dominance will shift quite dramatically.