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:
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.
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.
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