From IE to Chrome: The Evolution of the Browser

The following article is a guest post from Steve at Guys That KnowHe has has a wife and five daughters and has been successful at starting and running his own business. Steve recommends the Chrome browser and you can learn more about why on his article about why he uses Chrome.

 

If you’re under 40 you may not remember the early years of web browsers, and you may not know that IE (Microsoft’s Internet Explorer) wasn’t always built into the Windows ® Operating System.

Netscape Owned the Market

Prior to 1995 Netscape ruled the world of web browsers, owning as much as 95 percent market share. They totally dominated the market. Microsoft wanted in, so they developed their own browser, and as you know, called it Internet Explorer, or IE for short.

For a year or so, Microsoft tried but failed to gain a foothold in the market. Netscape was killing them. What happened in 1995 changed everything.

Microsoft’s Strategic Brilliance

Microsoft made a brilliant strategic move – they embedded IE into the newly released Windows 95 OS, essentially making it free to everyone who used Windows, which happened to be pretty much every PC user on the planet.

Netscape went ballistic, claiming unfair advantage and all sorts of other legal rants. In the end, Microsoft won the legal battles, and in the process, won the Browser War. What happened to Netscape? They went from 95 percent to 1 percent. I’m not joking. Today AOL owns Netscape, and that should tell you a lot. Netscape and AOL, two of the biggest software titans the computing world has ever known, are now two of the least known, least used, least innovative companies in the industry. In fact, many of you reading this post may have never heard of either company.

New Kids on the Block

Microsoft, after destroying Netscape, enjoyed browser dominance for about ten years, more or less. The Netscape guys created a group called the Mozilla Foundation in 1998, and tried a backdoor approach to dethrone IE. The project failed, but the open source community continued to enhance the browser – today’s Firefox.

Although the Mozilla Foundation’s attempt to knock off IE failed, Firefox has steadily gained a following and now accounts for about 27 percent of the market. Too little too late for the wanna-be IE killers.

Through the mid 2000s, IE still dominated, but it’s position as King of the Hill slowly deteriorated. Apple released Safari in 2003, which owns most of the Mac market share, but Safari as a whole has not caught on.

The most recent entrance into the browser market is, of course, Google Chrome. First released in 2008, Chrome is by far and away the fastest growing browser on the market. Last year, its market share grew by more than 6 percent while every other browser lost market share.

What’s on the Horizon?

IE, as bad as it is (and it is bad), still commands a little over 50 percent of the market today. Chrome, the only one growing its share, is just under 20 percent. The next couple of years, in my opinion, will see those numbers reverse.

IE will always have a huge advantage – being built into Windows. As long as Windows machines have a large share of the PC market, IE will have a good share of the browser market.

For users with any sense at all, they will chuck IE out the “window”, and look for something better. Firefox will continue to have a strong following, almost a cult-like user community. Safari, if Apple ever decides to get serious about its disappointing browser, has the potential to be a big player in the browser market – especially as Apple’s Macs and tablets continue to grow in market share.

Last but not least is Chrome. In my opinion Chrome will crest the 50 percent mark within the next two years and will remain strong for a long time.  I’ve been a Chrome user for a long time now and I’ll never go to anything else – at least for the foreseeable future.

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