/ Technology

Is Internet Explorer losing the browser war?

Internet Explorer web browser

Have you turned your back on Internet Explorer in favour of Chrome or Firefox? If so, you’re not alone – new stats reveal that, for the first time, it has less than 50% of the browser market.

This comes as no surprise to me. I stopped using Internet Explorer (IE) several years ago when it started crashing every time I tried to access a web page. It was time to switch to Mozilla Firefox.

Firefox is free, open source software, which means that anyone can contribute to the product. Its homepage is testament to the underlying philosophy that the internet should be public, open and accessible.

There’s more than one browser

That hasn’t always been the case. For years, Microsoft and the European Commission were embroiled in a legal battle. The EC argued that it was anti-competitive for Microsoft to include IE with its operating system.

With the release of Windows 7, Microsoft finally gave in to the pressure and has introduced a choice of browser screen. This has been crucial in highlighting to consumers that when it comes to browsers, they have a choice. And you don’t have to restrict yourself to a single browser, either.

I have three browsers on my computer. These include Google Chrome, which loads with lightning speed but frustrates me with its confusing menu icons.

I’m still using Firefox, too. I admire Mozilla’s philosophy but more importantly it’s a solid, reliable browser with an attractive interface and some nice extras. For example, Firefox pioneered tabbed browsing, which is now a standard feature of all browsers.

And, I haven’t turned my back on IE completely. The browser still works best when I’m installing those all important Windows updates.

Browsers of the future

But the war is far from over. Browsers are your window to the web and with billions of potential customers worldwide, all the key players want a slice of that action.

Google’s Chrome is currently the fastest growing browser – according to Statcounter its usage has tripled since last year and it now has 11.5% of the market. No surprises there, given Google’s successful track record.

Personally, I’m going to continue using more than one browser. Partly, because I have no desire to see Google ‘owning’ the web space (as Microsoft once did with IE) but also because there’s no reason for me to choose one browser over another. They’re all free and, for the time being, live quite happily together on my computer.

For now, I’m enjoying the best of all worlds.

What do you use as your main web browser?

Firefox (42%, 654 Votes)

Internet Explorer (26%, 411 Votes)

Google Chrome (20%, 308 Votes)

Safari (8%, 122 Votes)

Opera (3%, 46 Votes)

Other (1%, 22 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,563

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clive44 says:
12 October 2010

even the new explorer 9 keeps crashing

Chrome is elegant and simple and fast, unlike IE – also it doesn’t have several unnecessary toolbars which are visible whether you need them or not.

I used Firefox for several years after dumping IE back when the horrendous IE6 was forced out. However, after a geeky friend recommended Chrome, I switched and I have to agree with him that Chrome is faster than FF for most sites that I use regularly.

But over the next few months, IE, FF and Chrome will all have new versions launched. IE9 is already available for public beta testing. It is faster and better than IE8, but I would recommend holding on until the new FF and Chrome become publicly available as both have more to offer then IE9.

For the new page of posts. If your comment doesn’t come through straight away, don’t panic and try not to resubmit. We’re having a little issue with an over-zealous spam filter that we’re working hard to fix. We’ll approve your comments as quickly as we can, so please don’t hold back! Thanks.

What bugs me is that some sites, like Egg Money Manager, are only able to use IE!

Tony King says:
12 October 2010

I prefer Chrome to any other browser, mainly because it is so quick, & seldom,if ever, does not take me to what I am looking for, or within arms lenght of it.. I was computer weaned on IE because that was what I thought I had to use to begin with, but then I turned to Firefox to try it when I was told how good it was, & finally tried Chrome when Google entered the scene. I now use Chrome for preference, but often use others just to see if there is another I find better, or for some reason do not want to use Chrome.

Zoe Grifiths says:
12 October 2010

I used to exclusively use FF but my IT man got me back on to IE preferring it himself as it is quicker to load with more benifits than FF.
Personaly I use both, depends what mood I am in!

This survey is bound to be biased. Most Internet Explorer users are not at all interested in browser wars. Those that are interested enough to take the survey and/or leave a comment include a high proportion of IE-haters, hence the biased survey results. I’ve been browsing the Internet since 1994 when I was using Mosaic on Solaris during my computing degree, and currently have FF, IE8 and Chrome installed. I am comfortable with the user interfaces of all of them. Even Chrome, which some users here reported they couldn’t get along with the interface: yes, it’s different, but still perfectly usable once you get used to it. Out of the three browsers, I prefer using IE. I don’t see what the fuss is about FF. Yes, when it became popular, it was certainly better than IE6. But then IE7 came out and FF lost its edge, but the converts stayed with FF. I find FF slow to start up. Chrome is faster, and the surfing experience can appear sleeker, but the perceived speed is due to its DNS prefetching feature which means it looks up the IP address of every server of every link on every page that you are currently reading. The actual downloading speed is the same for all browsers, although IE may take slightly longer to render a page on the screen if your machine is a bit slow. Chrome nearly has everything I want but is let down by its lack of features when printing a page: there is very little you can configure there. On the other hand, IE has all the features I want, and does everything more-or-less correctly.

Another Firefox user. Agree that it can get slow to load, but love all the add-ons. Haven’t tried Chrome as I already had Opera for the slow-to-load moments when I’m accessing the net over a slower connection. I would also like to give Opera a vote for the wonderful OperaUnite which enables me to share files with my friends really easily. I don’t quite understand why some of the comments above refer to Windows Updating through a browser. My Updates come straight through without any recourse to any browser – I choose which ones I want and Hey Presto.

Ken Rock says:
13 October 2010

I also gave up on IE many years ago when I found Firefox. When I changed my PC for a Mac I found Safari works well. Firefox is still my browser of choice on my netbook. When Chrome came out I tried it but it wasn’t comfortable.

Evangelist Nick says:
13 October 2010

Yes, I use Safari because I have a Mac. What defeats me is why do all these savvy computer-literate people persevere with Microsoft and PCs? They are complicated, unreliable, tetchy, throw complex technical menus at you which nobody but a rocket scientist (or an IT technician!) can possibly understand, and they are SLOW! Somebody described them perfectly to me: PCs are CLUNKY. Save up the money and buy a new Mac, which is fast, logical, works smoothly with most gear connected to it, will do what you want and more, and is beautifully designed and made.

michael cranfield says:
13 October 2010

“why do all these savvy computer-literate people persevere with Microsoft and PCs?”
As someone who laid out a grand on Apple Mac a month ago and still has to work with a dear old-fashioned PC (which I’m using right now), I’ll tell you one good reason: Apple doesn’t support IE or a lot of apps I use (like Sharescope) either. So lashed out another £80 on Parallels for Mac, which was supposedly going to enable me to run Windows on a Virtual Machine. A month later – and I won’t go into the gory, boring, detail – Parallels support are still trying to make it work. Frankly I wish I’d never heard of Apple. Lovely, wireless hardware, but not worth the aggravation. That’s one reason why people stick with dear old-fashioned PCs.

Why does Mr Cranfield want to use IE on his Mac anyway? IE was inferior, it was never designed for Macs, which all come with Safari – a perfect browser – and you can get a free download of Firefox which is excellent. I use the latter for every purpose including banking, writing, and research. To be fair, I find complete satisfaction also with the latest IE (version 8) on my new notebook with Windows-7. But on my third Macintosh in 12 years, without any need for “virtual-Windows”, I have always enjoyed perfect easy home computing, including manipulating photographs, using all the software that comes with Macs or is readily available free online for them.

PS. It was IE (version 8) when I typed it, not the smiley now showing on my notebook PC. Was that another glitch in IE ? And where is the area for voting for a browser ? My screen is showing your poll results but nowhere to add my mark for Firefox. Has the poll closed?

IE stopped working on the Mac at IE5, Firefox has become my browser of choice, faster and more compatible than Safari despite them sharing developers (?) Just going to try Chrome, but wonder whether speed is more related to your broadband speed than coding efficiency of the software? I use IE or BT’s version of it on my partner’s PC and Firefox is the better of the 2 by some margin

HiDEye says:
13 October 2010

I don’t want browsers. I want the internet. All browsers miss something important. Please combine them for a simple life:
Fast access (FF slow to load)
Crash proof (Chrome constantly crashes)(why? Me/my sys.?)
IE throws the world’s technology at me and demands answers from confusing overload.
Way back I switched to:
(IE shelled)/Avant. But some colour settings got changed (yes,by me no doubt) so lots of critical web keys vanished and Avant’s help (China?) said it was an IE problem. Not solved. Still used a lot.

But many fav. links are connected or load it when I would like the choice without the palaver of loading Avant then cut/pasting into another browser.
IE/Av let me have lots of toolbar choices. But when the (often demanding and intrusive) updates arrive they then wipe all my tool settings! How rude!

If Chrome’s crashing could be stopped I would default it – lots of features I have liked (with some digging – hunting for hidden features).
Loading a link in a new tab works when direct clicking a link crashes it; but why the palaver? I want to click and go. It still crashes even then – many times. !!!!!!!!
There must be a simple answer.
‘Help’ forums take me into the jungle .. or into Chilean desert mines with no escape tunnels.

FF I have not gelled with. I use Firefox’s Mozilla email system, which has now converted to FF format, so I (!) might re-try.

Life is too short to take 3yr degree courses in each browser.
I don’t want browsers!
I want internet access.

Please, Sir, can I have some (more) ?! 🙂

The poll box in the right-hand column came up with an error message telling me to ‘please choose a valid poll option’. I had the Firefox button selected, and I’m using Firefox to view this page. I tried several times with the same result.

The poll at the bottom of the page worked first time. Has anyone else found this problem?

When I switched from IE to Firefox, I couldn’t believe how much better Firefox was. When I switched from Firefox to Chrome, I couldn’t believe how much better Chrome is. Wonder what the next switch will be.

When I saw this article I could have wept – I have been unable to log-in to the Which website for weeks. When I contacted Which by phone and by email I was informed that it was because I am using Firefox (which I have been using for months) but that the problem would be fixed eventually. Can anyone help?

Hi Arthur,

Customer Services tell me that they’ve been in contact with you and that clearing your browser cookies did not work. I mention that because some members had login problems due to cookie problems following our relaunch.

I assume you can get to the login page but something goes wrong for you then. Can you tell me on this thread what the exact point at which things go wrong is? If you sending a screenshot will help let me know and I’ll contact you via the email address you registered with Which?

bigaitch says:
13 October 2010

I cut my browser teeth on IE3.0 ? there wernt a lot of options around then, upgraded constantly by ms until i saw the light at IE6 after realizing that this browser was the most targeted piece of software on the planet, simply because it was the most used, IE was/is the most insecure browser simply because theres more of it about, I migrated to FF and I think that was a good move and for the moment, i`m sticking with it. There are an awful lot of plugins and addons that can and do a lot of security stuff and also give the ability to customize the browser to the way YOU like it. I run on XP and love it, I looked at IE8, a bit more secure alledgedly, but didnt like the interface, also weaning me back to IE would be quite a task, now we XPers find out that IE9 aint gonna run on XP, oh fooh? does that mean Ive not only got to stick with FF but Ive now got to go and find another op system, theres plenty out there, meaning I can at last dump MS forever, YIPPEE.

csreader says:
15 October 2010

I switched from IE to Firefox (FF) some years ago: partly because of FF’s better features, e.g. tabbed browsing (before IE copied it), partly just to get away from Microsoft. This year I switched to Chrome as my main browser for better speed.

HiDEye wrote “Chrome constantly crashes”. My experience is quite the opposite: very reliable.

Klitos complained about Chrome’s lack of features when printing a page: I agree. I cannot find a way to preview what I’m about to print – so that I can select which pages I want printed.

I’m having the same problems as arthurgreenwood about being unable to login to the Which? website. I suspect it’s something to do with the new website, as it happens on both FF and Chrome. With both browsers the right-hand margin of every page is cut off; and there is no slider bar at the foot of the window, so the browser doesn’t know that something is missing. Most unfortunately, the LOGIN button on the login page is among the material being cut off! (Or was this a fault in the design of this page?) So for the moment I have to use IE to login to Which?

(I have reported this to the IT team, who are working on it.)

For many years I have used different browsers for different purposes, just as a DIY expert would choose the best tool for the job. Considering that web browsers are free and easy to install, it is surprising how many people stick with what they are given. (Part of the problem is that employers may offer no choice and there are many still stuck with only IE6 on their office computer.)

Try different web browsers if you can and don’t pay too much attention to anyone who believes that one browser is fine for all purposes.

Competition is good for development and the continued decline in market share of IE has finally wakened up Microsoft. The forthcoming IE9, currently available as a ‘beta’ version, is much more compliant with Web standards than previous versions and might catch up with the opposition by the time IE10 is released.