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The Future of Internet Explorer
Microsoft does not ever seem to learn. With Internet Explorer 7, we were promised something that was far more ambitious than the end product, and this seems to be the case going forward. Internet Explorer 8 is a dinosaur living in a land of mammals that are constantly evolving. The user interface is clunky, the “accelerators” nearly pointless, and its design choices seem to be “borrowed” from Internet Explorer’s biggest competitors (Firefox, Safari, and Chrome).
IE 8 does make some significant improvements over its predecessor, but not in the ways one would hope. Safari is beefing up its user interface, Chrome is improving its security with sandboxing and Firefox is constantly releasing amazing new extensions. However, Internet Explorer 8 is in a corner by itself, desperately trying to retain a share of the market that simply does not know better options exist.
Obviously, with browsers like Safari and Chrome, there are still some issues when it comes to compatibility. I have found myself switching over to Internet Explorer from time to time to take advantage of download accelerators and IE-compatible websites (like bestbuy.com). However, given additional time, I believe that people will be deleting Microsoft’s browser right out of the gate.
That begs the question: with the IE 8 beta underperforming and competition growing fierce, will Microsoft even bother making Internet Explorer 9? The answer is a resounding yes, for a few reasons.
First, Internet Explorer is currently the industry standard for compatibility. Whenever a new website is launched, it will be checked against Internet Explorer standards first, because that is the browser with which uninitiated web users are browsing. As such, if you want your website to have broad appeal, it needs to work on every browser, starting with IE. We will begin seeing a paradigm shift in this area only once Firefox or Chrome holds at least 50% of the market and comes bundled with new computers. Then web designers may start considering those browsers before IE.
Second, older websites are occasionally incompatible with newer browsers. You can log into Facebook right now from any browser commercially available and keep up to date with your friends. Good luck trying to log into older websites running legacy hardware that was coded back in the early 90s, though. Updating older websites is something that the internet as a whole is getting better about, but the general trend is towards keeping older hardware because substitutes are too cost-prohibitive and smaller companies cannot work around those expenses.
As the internet evolves, I hope to start seeing newer websites that take advantage of new browsers leading the way in a post-IE world. Internet Explorer will never regain the market share it has lost to Firefox and Chrome, simply because those users enjoy their new interfaces. I for one do not plan to go back anywhere near IE, as I have not used it as my primary browser in over five years. Recently, I have been enjoying the new way Chrome allows me to surf the internet. In a world that is entirely based on the choices we make, Microsoft may continue development on Internet Explorer 9. The users that have already made the switch, though, will probably never go back.
Trying to decide which web browser is right for you? Check out the Bright Hub series, The Worlds Most Popular Web Browsers.