Internet Explorer, Windows XP rank highly at work, but BYOD threatens mutiny

Bring your own device to work? According to Forrester research, that's mixing up the browser market space, despite Internet Explorer keeping its top-dog status. Meanwhile, Windows XP still ranks highly at work despite one year left until support gets cut off.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer retains its lead at the top of the browser market share rankings, but bring-your-own-device (BYOD) is threatening its dominance.

Meanwhile, Windows XP still has a stranglehold on more than one-third of the enterprise market, despite having less than one year until Microsoft cuts off support for the aging operating system.

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According to latest Forrester research, out of nearly 7,300 global IT information workers, Internet Explorer remains at the top of their self-reported browser usage at 40.2 percent. Google Chrome stands at second place with 27.8 percent, Mozilla Firefox at 25.4 percent, while Apple's Safari brings in just 1.8 percent.

Why? Because Internet Explorer remains the default browser for most Windows-based machines in the workplace.

But the numbers are mixed and becoming increasingly diverse, according to Forrester vice-president J.P. Gownder in the report. The reason is that many employees who bring their own devices to work have an alternative default browser — notably either Chrome or Firefox. 

Interestingly, while Safari ranks very low in the results table (because both Chrome and Firefox are cross-platform browsers), it's not a solid indication that Mac usage is down in the enterprise. In fact, the research says 7.2 percent of IT decision makers in North America and the EU support Macs at work.

Of course, results are skewed in Europe because for all Windows-based machines, there are no "default" browsers thanks to a European Commission intervention on Microsoft. An antitrust settlement led Microsoft into offering users the choice of browser, leaving a "default" browser off the table altogether. (The software giant was recently hit by a $733 million fine after it broke antitrust commitments.)

Perhaps worryingly, Windows XP still remains as the second-most used operating system in the workplace. Windows 7, as you might expect, is on top, skipping Windows Vista altogether with just 3 percent running the platform in the U.S. and the EU.

Though the headline could well be, "Windows 7 prevails as the most used desktop platform in the enterprise," Windows XP's doomsday is just around the corner. "Corner" is meant comparatively, of course, considering it's been on the market for more than 12 years.

Image: Forrester Research

The breakdown is a worry. Gartner only last week warned to "prepare" for the death of Windows XP, which has its cut-off date of April 8, 2014 .

Microsoft's traction in Windows 7 in the enterprise is good. There's no doubt about that. But Gownder explains that "Windows 7 hasn't reached the ubiquity of [Windows] XP," which at one point had more than 80 percent of enterprise desktop devices running the platform. 

There's hope, though. It took Windows XP five years to reach its market share peak in the workplace, Windows 7 has only taken three and a half years, he notes. There's hope that by the time Windows XP finally has the bucket kicked from underneath it, its share could have been eaten up by an increase in Windows 7 sales.