When the Internet was first born it understandably took the world by storm. The ‘information super highway’ (remember that one – much better than Web 2.0 in my opinion) suddenly started feeding all manner of useful and useless information into peoples homes, workplaces and schools.
The wonder of being able to find out who played Jim Robinson in Neighbours, what happened to Kevin out of the Wonder Years and being able to play Chess with someone on the other side of the world was enough to satisfy nearly all of the new online community. ‘Nearly’ because there were a select few who wanted to challenge how all of that information was presented and the vehicle being used to get that information, and then it started… Browser Wars!
Internet Explorer seems to work straight out of the box. It shows web pages and runs all types of content so why consider anything else?
Apart from the obvious, choice is never a bad thing motto. Other web browsers do offer something different. Firefox has numerous add-ons to enhance the user experience, Google have released Chrome which has advanced features that allow it to run multiple web applications at once with great speed and Apples browser Safari, is known for its rendering and speed.
At first glance there appears to be no direct advantage to the companies pushing their various browsers. Obviously Apple and Microsoft have the benefit of shipping their browsers with an operating system, Firefox has an embedded search box that generates some revenue via Google and Chrome is a great tool for raising awareness of the Google brand. Google doing things the opposite way round to Apple and Microsoft, releasing a web browser that is soon to be followed by an operating system, or so we are lead to believe.
Though Internet Explorer leads the browser market currently, due mostly to the amount of machines that currently use the Windows operating system, the other browsers do seem to be making ground on them. It doesn’t appear too likely that Internet Explorer will see any great drop off in the near future and its not too clear what the potential consequences of such a drop off would have on Microsoft as a whole.
Many would say that a browser is ‘just a browser’ and as long as it works and is secure what more is needed. Others would say that not all browsers do ‘work’ and that it is only the competition that has kept the majority of security holes plugged and lead to the secure browsers we have today.
Those who work with the web on a daily basis such as web designers or developers, usually have a favourite browser, and it’s usually different to those who use it only occasionally. For now, it appears that browser choice is simply that, a choice of what works for you. Be it the convenience of not having to download yet another thing or maybe it’s the extended functionality.
I suppose the only real way to test how loyal users are would be to ask how much they would be willing to pay to use their chosen browser? That would no doubt lead to some interesting and most likely unexpected results.