The Future of Internet Explorer – Is There Any?

Good news everyone! Finally IE6 share rate has fallen and now it has under 5% in the U.S. top 12 browser list according to StatCounter - you may have heard of this fact from the news during the past couple of days. And we can almost hear developers from all over the world shouting "Finally" in a single ecstatic rush (except Africa and Asia – those guys still love using IE6 and current share rate is about 20% in this region, according to the stats).

Definitely despite all those bad things that you may find by googling IE6, it was (and still is) an epic event in lives of Microsoft fans and other people that have any relation to the web. Everybody will agree that it is really a notorious browser – even Wikipedia can't find better words than these: “This version of Internet Explorer is widely derided for its security issues and lack of support for modern web standards, making frequent appearances in "worst tech products of all time" lists, with some publications labeling it as the "least secure software on the planet”. It’s needless to say more.

Of course it is a rather old software and the main reason of its popularity was the Microsoft’s browser policy (remember that old case when IE was a part of Windows software - that was when IE hegemony started). But now we can ask a reasonable question – is it really bad that one of IE versions is going to become a part of the web history? Actually it’s obvious that even Microsoft is glad that IE6 is finally going down but what about other IE versions? Here is latest data about Top 12 browser versions as of the period of May 2010 - those are the global stats where the IE6 share remains rather high unlike the U.S.

Source: StatCounter Global Stats - Browser Version Market Share

The fact that IE holds leading positions in this list is not really sensational; it is more interesting to know why it is this way? Do you remember that Internet Explorer was pre-installed on all Windows OS? Yep, it was unfair, and Microsoft was fined and all that, but now everything is changed – Microsoft gives you a freedom of choice. So what’s the trick? The secret is simple – time and updates. Windows is one of the most popular OS in the world and of course web developers and advanced web users are not the biggest part of IE target audience. There are many rookies that actually don’t know or just don’t care what software to use for web browsing. And with the help of updates the old IE versions were transformed into the new ones.

By the way here is a comparison chart of IE8, FireFox 3.6 and Chrome 4.0. It contains all the info that from the Microsoft’s point of view will convince you to choose IE8.

Anyways IE6 (along with Vista and few other products) has taught Microsoft that they should be more careful in creating new software versions and products. The lesson was obviously learned and as the result we can see Windows 7 as well as many interesting things about the forthcoming IE9. It is necessary to remind you that Internet Explorer 9 will support HTML5 and CSS3, will have new Java Script Engine called Chakra, Direct X video acceleration and so on. Summing up everything we’ve said it’s clear that IE is alive and kicking. But it's a good thing we're not the ones it's kicking - web designer community is quite happy with alternatives that they're used to (Firefox and growing Chrome). IE will never become a browser for developers - it's a browser for moms, in-laws, housewives etc. Whoever but the web developers. At the same time IE will be quite happy with what's left for it - a huge piece of Internet audience will stick to it for years and years. That's the equilibrium, IE version of it.

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Edward Korcheg

Edward is a professional technical writer who is also passionate about making stunning designs in Photoshop. You can find many useful tutorials in his collection of articles at MonsterMost.

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