As Internet Explorer Dwindles

In a searching article, Ars Technica describes the state of the browser market and the withering away of Internet Explorer. After 12 years in which which IE reached an apex at 95% browser market share in 2004, IE crossed the line on October 2011 at less than 50% overall [desktop+mobile]market share  according ArsTechnica. However, if you check Wikipedia, 4 out of its 5 browser market measuring agencies had IE dipping below the 50% market months ago. Only Net Applications see IE market share above 50%[but also dropping at the rate of 1% per month]. So clearly IE has crossed the line at being an acceptable browser given the caliber of competitive browsers.

And this is the real substance of the ArsTechnica report.  Yes,    IE9 and IE10 have greatly improved their compliance with HTML4 , CSS2 or earlier, and DOM but they still lag in basic W3C standards compliance with proprietary extensions and  incomplete implementations. And as for HTML5, CSS3 and the latest JavaScript/ECMAScript, Microsoft lags badly  being the worst by a large margin of the 5 major browsers in the new standards  compliance.

Ars Technica describes how the IE browsers also trail the 4 other major browsers in technical and user features. The IE extensions API is not as rich as Firefox and Chrome and so Redmonds add-ons are not as popular as their rivals. Likewise new display and performance features appear first in other browsers like Opera[gestures, server-based Turbo  speed ups, mobile extensions], Safari [touch on mobiles, new page hints], Chrome[new page hints, JavaScript performance improvements] and Firefox[first to tabs and tab refinements, JavaScript performance tunings]. In general, Redmond has lurched over the past 5 years between browser improvements and  then falling behind yet again.

And these problems with the browsers and the Web is reflected in Microsoft’s wavering and ultimate failing by falling hopelessly behind in the Mobile marketplace now being defined by Apple, Google and a host of Asian smartphone, tablet and PC suppliers. Redmond’s efforts in new markets are slowed, weakened and inevitably done in by “the need” to protect its Windows and Office cash cows. Instead of putting customers experience  and benefits first, the Microsoft priority is how to force fit the latest tech trends into an existing Microsoft Windows and other software context.Contrast this with Steve Jobs at Apple who has added features and functionality to Iphone and iPad that are now costing iPod market share – this is Economists Joseph Schumpeter’s famous disruptive innovation.  And thus Redmond’s willingness to consider potentially disruptive technologies is restrained by having to  pass the ultmate criteria – how well it can be made to fit into the existing Microsoft product portfolio. Kinect in Xbox and gaming Yes,  the Web and Mobile devices, No – only on our terms. And so goes Microsoft for the forseeable future – a Windows island adrift in a world of rapid and disruptive technological change.

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