Earlier today, Tyler Holman posted an intriguing article on Neowin about how Perception is killing Internet Explorer. Tyler claims that IE9, the latest version of the web browser is as good as its competitors like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera, but the horrible perception of IE being low on quality has resulted in continuous depletion of IE’s market share.
He rightfully says-
The real problem is the reputation that Internet Explorer ‘earned’ through the botched releases of yore. It doesn’t matter how good of a product Microsoft releases, Internet Explorer has too much baggage behind it.
Falling Graph of IE
A recent study by NetApps
revealed confirmed the sad state of Internet Explorer in the desktop browser space. Adding to the woes, is the fact that IE has negligible share in the mobile browser space. The overall market share of Internet Explorer has fallen below 50% after a long time.
The study also revealed that almost 25.4% of Internet Explorer users still use the (now) unsupported versions – IE6 & IE7, which is almost same as the percentage of users using the latest version – IE9.
… until and unless Microsoft makes its browser appeal to the influential geek demographic, it looks as if Internet Explorer has nowhere to go but down.
Is it all about Perception and Reputation?
As much as I agree with Tyler Holman about IE9 being competitive but getting affected by the bad reputation snowballed over the years, I believe Microsoft’s we-don’t-care-what-you-think attitude is to be blamed as well. Before I started off with this article, I asked my friends, followers and readers about what they feel about IE9 and if they actually use it as their primary browser. As expected, I got varied answers, but most of them were of the opinion that IE9 is good, but not good enough to be used on a day-to-day basis.
When IE9 was released back in March 2011, it was greeted with competition from Firefox 4.0 and Chrome 10. At that time, IE9 matched the speeds of Firefox & Chrome and even boasted an impressive and cleaner interface which promised more space for web pages. But that wasn’t enough to beat the competition. It still lacked extensions. The IE extensions saga is similar to the misery of lack of apps on Windows Phone 7 platform. At a time when browser add-ons and extensions are continuously increase the way users experience the internet, Microsoft hasn’t really bothered to do anything to improve the situation.
It’s not just the extensions which IE9 lacks. A commentor on neowin, JAB Creations has given a detailed explanation about the things he doesn’t like in IE9 which includes lack of support for web standards, unfriendly UI and more.
Microsoft Must do Something Radical with IE
IE10 looks promising with its trident engine and better support for web standards. But just the better speed and better support for standards won’t help save the sinking ship. Microsoft should come out dressed with its ninja outfits and do something as drastic as dropping the name “Internet Explorer” just like Tyler suggests.
They could hold on to the technology that they have built, but get rid of all the excess baggage that comes with the name Internet Explorer.
Start with a clean slate. Code from ground up. It’s much easier to do that rather than patching (or even rewriting) parts of the code. Make the IE code open-source and provide better tools for developers so that they can come out with really good extensions. Treat the new web browser like an individual product, and not just a bundled Windows bloatware.