Internet Explorer’s market share has been falling for several years now, while browsers like Firefox, Safari, Opera and Chrome are growing in popularity. From a web designer’s perspective, This is a welcome migration. Internet Explorer (IE) has long been the bane of our existence due to its lack of support for web standards. For every site built, a designer or web developer must spend hours getting IE6 and IE7 to play nice with their code. IE8 has made many improvements but still doesn’t natively allow for some of the simpler things like rounded corners or a decent drop shadow. Much of this is slated to change for IE with the introduction of IE9 which has decent HTML5 support and better support for CSS3 and other web standards.
Perhaps Microsoft is just finally waking up and smelling the reality of the web these days with their extensive enhancements to IE9. Or, perhaps this is all in an effort to gain back their dominating web browser market share, which was as high as 90%+ at it’s peak.
In many situations, people will use what’s readily available to them regardless of how well or how poorly it gets the job done. This is especially true in situations where users are less tech-savvy and don’t feel comfortable, don’t care or don’t have the knowledge to change their browser’s default search engine. I’m sure a very significant portion of web users fall into this category. All search engines are available in all browsers but some browsers come with a default search engine already set. Regardless of the reason for Internet Explorer’s dominance in the past, that dominance is waning while Microsoft is taking part in a well-marketed battle with Google for a portion of the online search business. Could this desire to gain a foothold in the search market be the reason that Microsoft is implementing a bigger, bader (not bad meaning bad but bad meaning good) IE9? If Users migrate back to IE9, Microsoft’s Bing search engine stands to cut into a significant portion of that valuable search business from Google. The great search wars are far from over but Google is obviously winning very big at this point. We’ll have to wait and see over the next few years if Bing can hold it’s own in a market where the other players are well embedded. Either way, at least we’re getting some signs of a better IE.