The 2011 Web Browser War

Internet Explorer has been the most popular web browser since the end of 1998 when it took over the market lead from Netscape. Prior to that, Netscape and IE were engaged in a web browser war that lasted for about 3 years before the end came for the Netscape and IE then continued to dominate the market until Firefox 1.0 was launched in 2004.

IE rose to the lead the market because it had an advantage of being bundled with every copy of Windows. At the time of launch, Microsoft Windows were also dominating the operating systems market at 90% of the total share. This had helped IE to topple Netscape off the top position, and the domination of operating systems still enables IE to remain on top despite Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera being in the market for some time already.

IE has some plus points that are not available on other web browsers, lending weight to its success:

Good security

IE has a zone-based protection framework that organises websites in groups where limitations are applied on every particular zone. There is also an “attachment security service” in which IE marks downloaded executable files for users to decide if they want to execute them, for they are potentially dangerous.

Framework support

Applications that run on certain frameworks such as VB script and ActiveX can only be run optimally on IE, for these frameworks are not fully supported by most other browsers. Most applications using these frameworks are important and common in many businesses’ websites.

Visited sites cache

IE has a unique cache in which you can find a list of visited websites saved in the temporary Internet files folder. From here, you’d be able to access those sites easily as well as view them offline.

But just this month, we witnessed something new and interesting. For the first time ever, IE lost its position as the leading web browser in Europe. The report by StatCounter stated that Firefox had finally overtaken IE in the European market. Firefox had a share of 38.14%, just slightly beating IE’s 36.92%. Nevertheless, it is a remarkable achievement considering that Firefox had only entered the market 6 years ago.

It’s the little things that other web browsers have and IE doesn’t that make a difference for users. Most of the time, users are the average Internet surfer who do not require many advanced features but simply want simplicity and convenience. Here’s how Firefox and the other web browsers eat into IE’s share with the features they have:

Built-in spell checker

Firefox, Safari and Opera all have built-in spell checkers where incorrectly spelt words are underlined to bring attention to the user but ironically, IE has yet to have this feature despite Windows developing this for MS Word.

URL bar auto-searches

It is certainly handy that information is sent off to search engines as we type an address in the URL bar. IE argues that security is at risk when Chrome sends the information off instantly but Firefox allows the feature to be turned off. But all we get from IE are some suggested links only if we have those bookmarked earlier on.

Saving password

All browsers will prompt the user if they want to save a password after they have entered it. IE differs from the rest in the way that it works. Other browsers load the page after the password is input and then only ask if you want to save it. This way, you would at least know that the password input is the right one. However, IE asks you right away if you want to save the password after keying it in. If you had typed the wrong one in, congratulations you have just saved the incorrect password!

Can Internet Explorer retains and subsequently expands its user base with the features that it has, or will those minor grouses eventually turn users away from them? We would just have to wait and see what happens in 2011.

Image Credit : Dark Ripper

About Jasmine

Jasmine is an experienced web hosting professional who also has a passion in web design and blogging. You can find her at Top 10 Web Hosting, a web hosting review website and Malaysia Online Boutique, one of the largest e-commerce websites in Malaysia. Do check out these websites.


  1. Hi Jasmine,

    Internet Explorer is still the king of web browsers. But the influence of Firefox and Google Chrome is growing day by day. IE have far better features that Firefox and Google Chrome but what they are clearly lacking is the option for Add-ons. If they come up with the ability to add plugins, they no one can beat them in the web browser war.


    • I think not many web developers like IE… Scripts which work great on Firefox and Chrome sometimes just failed to work properly in IE. :)

  2. Firefox is currently the leader in the browser war for me simply because its used by the most people, therefor whenever I optimize sites for clients I’ll see that it works on firefox correctly first.

    • Same here. I usually test in Firefox first, and then in IE and Chrome. Scripts which work well in Firefox will almost certain to work in Chrome, but sometimes not the case for IE.

      However, we can’t ignore IE as it is still being used by most Internet users.

      • Yes IE is always the pain in the ass when it comes to testing websites and their scripts. It has always been that way even back in the Netscape days. It would be so much easier if all browsers processed and displayed content the same.

  3. for me, since the day i have started using chrome, it has been the best.
    i love it because of its speed. IE and Firefox stands nowhere in comparison with chrome

  4. Paul Zheng says:

    Firefox is showing great grow day by day and the number of Firefox users have already overcome that of IE slightly. I like Firefox as it supports powerful extensions and convenience of neat interface. I hope the release of Firefox 4.0 Stable version.
    I believe the Firefox will be the most wonderful browser in this year.

  5. Lennart Heleander from Property Marbella says:

    Hi Jasmine,
    Here are the latest figures;
    Internet Explorer has 56.00%
    Firefox between 22 and 23%
    Google’s Chrome 10.70%
    Safari, which 7.0%
    All figures have I found at;

  6. It definitely seems as if Internet Explorer is on the decline, but you can never count Microsoft out. They will sit back patiently and eventually make some big moves to claw back some of their market share. I think a lot comes down to the deals the companies negotiate to get their browser bundled with pcs, laptops or other software. While an advanced internet user will opt for their favorite browser, beginners will simply use whatever is already available to them.

  7. Hi Jasmine,

    Nice Post! Most of the browsing I do is in Firefox I have not used IE over the last four years unless I am forced to in working situation or am testing compatability issues. I primarily use firefox for the addin’s created for testing & development.

  8. I think IE will continue to enjoy a large market share as long as Windows is the dominant OS on PCs. Who agree with me on this? ;)

    • Yes I agree with this. As IE comes preinstalled with Windows, that is an extremely high number of people who at least have IE installed. A high percentage of those people will use IE without any reason to switch to a new web browser.

  9. Hi Jasmine, great post, thank you for sharing it. Internet Explorer its famous because when you install windows xp,vista,7 automatically you have just one browser and it is Internet Explorer that because it has so many users. I’m a web designer and i don’t like that browser because every time when a build a website a have problems with Internet Explorer, it is because it can’t read mu codes. I hope that Internet Explorer will make some updates.

  10. The web browser continues! For sure more and more new players will come out and set their own brand and names.