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Browsers Fighting to Keep up with the Web 542

An anonymous reader writes "With the continued evolution of the internet and more tools being developed or migrated online browsers are fighting to keep up. Wired has a quick look at the current status of the browser war and what different browsers are doing to try to stay ahead. From the article: 'Already, IE has seen its U.S. market share on Windows computers drop to 90 percent from 97 percent two years ago, according to tracking by WebSideStory. Firefox's share has steadily increased to 9 percent, with Opera's negligible despite its innovations. WebSideStory analyst Geoff Johnston said Firefox must continue to improve just to maintain its share. Because IE automatically ships with Windows, he said, users satisfied with IE7 may not find enough reasons to download and install Firefox when they buy a new computer.'"
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Browsers Fighting to Keep up with the Web

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  • by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @02:28PM (#15571080) Homepage Journal
    IE7 will require later versions of Windows, including Service Pack 2 of XP, while Opera, Firefox and Flock will run on Macintosh, Linux and older Windows machines as well.
    New Firefox will indeed run on older Windows machines, assuming you mean either 2000 or XP. []
  • So give them a few (Score:3, Informative)

    by Slightly Askew ( 638918 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @02:37PM (#15571162) Journal
    Because IE automatically ships with Windows, he said, users satisfied with IE7 may not find enough reasons to download and install Firefox when they buy a new computer.

    If they are tech savvy enough, start with the IE7 blog [] at MSDN.

    If they don't know the difference between a USB and a Firewire cable, just tell them how much you charge to burn down a machine and rebuild it after their teenage son picks up a dozen worms while searching for pr0n.

  • by Agrippa ( 111029 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @02:41PM (#15571199)
    I know the analyst quoted, Geoff Johnston, from when I worked at I went to lunch with him a few times because WebSideStory was down the street and Geoff was an artist on our site with the band Noisepie []. He's the guy in the center. He's a pretty cool guy who seemed pretty knowledgeable.

  • by Dan Ost ( 415913 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @02:51PM (#15571278)
    Firefox 2.0 will support Win9x. It's only Firefox 3.0 that will drop support
    for windows before Win2000.

    Assuming there aren't any horrible security flaws in Firefox 2.0, there's
    no reason that you'll have to stop using Firefox on Win9x once Firefox 3.0
    comes out.
  • by jizziknight ( 976750 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @02:54PM (#15571307)
    Well, as long as you don't mind letting windows automatically update itself. Otherwise, you'll need IE in order to use the Windows Update site. Unless of course, there's something I don't know about.

    Also, the automatic updater ony gets critical updates, and in a lot of cases you want to get the non-critical ones as well, which you'll need to manually go to the site for. So really there's two uses. 1. Downloading Firefox or Opera. 2. Windows Updates
  • by Inoshiro ( 71693 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @03:02PM (#15571376) Homepage
    Let me tell you, IE 7 is just as fucked as IE5/6.

    IE 7 requires the htc file to implement the HTC hover menu. IE 7 still has the bug with apply text-align to block elements. IE 7 still has weird overlap issues.

    IE 7 is basically IE 6 with a tab bar and some more annoying anti-phishing code. The website layout I designed recently works like this: one path is for Mozilla/FireFox/Camino/Safari/Konqueror/Opera (tested and working), and the other is IE 5/6/7. One uniform path works consistently in everything except IE, and the smarter Gecko-based browsers even get a little CSS3 magic thrown in.

    IE 7 doesn't implement all of CSS 1, a standard that's pushing 10 years old.

    (This was me testing IE 7 inside VMWare on Windows Server 2003)
  • by pavon ( 30274 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @03:08PM (#15571415)
    New versions of Firefox 1.x will run on windows 9x.
    New versions of Firefox 2.x will run on windows 9x. (2007?)
    Not until firefox 3.x will support for windows 9x be dropped. (2008?)

    Microsoft's last browser that supported windows 9x was released 5 years ago, while firefox is still planning on supporting it in new releases for at least another year.
  • Re:Standards (Score:3, Informative)

    by jedihamster ( 983856 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @03:15PM (#15571470)
    Been a browser of slashdot for years. Just joined to help you out.

    Check out : ns/example/ []
    for an example of a cross browser clean list menu with no .htc

    details of how it work can be found: ns/ []

    I modified the code and made a version for my employer that worked on all IE5's including mac, IE6, Firefox, Opera. Its very nice menu. It uses javascript to allow hover in IE. .htc files often create a security warning in IE.

    hope this helped.

  • Re:New features (Score:3, Informative)

    by ( 780570 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @03:15PM (#15571474)
    You write a parody, and yet some MS products do act in this manner.

    Case in point: MSN Messenger. Have a friend send you an mp3.
    It asks you "Do you want to accept this file?", to which you click yes.

    It then downloads the file and offers you a nice and simple, clickable link to open the file. You click on it. A window pops up.

    Something along the lines of "This file could be dangerous. Windows has prevented your computer from opening it".

    It doesn't mention it, but it also deletes the damned file you just downloaded. Pretty sad, eh?
  • by Monkeyman334 ( 205694 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @03:39PM (#15571646)
    I usually check the [] to get a better idea of what people are using. They recorded 134 billion units (hits?) last month.
  • by adam.dorsey ( 957024 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @03:50PM (#15571716)
    From the article: 'Already, IE has seen its U.S. market share on Windows computers drop to 90 percent from 97 percent two years ago, according to tracking by WebSideStory. Firefox's share has steadily increased to 9 percent, with Opera's negligible despite its innovations.

    The statistics in the article specifically reference Windows.
  • by tinkerghost ( 944862 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @03:52PM (#15571735) Homepage
    The MS abuse is in demanding that IE (a web browser) be installed on all computers containing it's Operating system. To whit: forcibly leveraging Microsofts monopoly in one area(Desktop O/S) to create a monopoly in another area(Web Browser).
    There would be, and would not have been an issue except that the contracts MS was making OEMs sign said you WILL include IE on the desktop or you WILL NOT sell Windows. At one point they also penalized OEMs for including competitive browsers - IE get the liscense at $50each normally but it'll cost you $65 if you include Netscape pre-installed.
    With IE 5, it was no longer uninstallable. That is, no matter what you did, IE was now part of your OS & could not be removed. In court, MS was asked how to remove it, instead they showed how to hide it. When called on it, they admitted it couldn't be removed.
    So, you have a piece of software (a web browser) that is required to ship with a seperate piece of software (the OS), that even if you despise, will continue to take up a good chunk of hard drive.
    Take a look at the history & documents of the actual Anti-trust case. The issue was NOT bundling the web browser with the OS. The issue was about FORCIBLY bundling the browser. IIRC, the programming level techs fought against intigrating the browser into the OS, but marketing felt it was a sure way to make/keep market share.
    So to answer your question, Microsoft's abuse of it's OS Monopoly status lies in it's focible inclusion of IE on every Windows computer, thus requiring by default, that everyone who uses their Monopoly OS, is presented with their Web Browser.
  • by Kelson ( 129150 ) * on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @03:53PM (#15571744) Homepage Journal
    IE 7 doesn't implement all of CSS 1, a standard that's pushing 10 years old.

    It does, however, implement a hell of a lot more of CSS [] than IE6, and has fixed quite a few CSS bugs. It's a lot more than "IE 6 with a tab bar."

    (While we're at it, does *any* browser implement all of CSS1? The main reference [] I know of only deals with CSS2 and CSS3.)

    While I'm disappointed that IE7 doesn't catch up with Opera, Firefox and Safari, I also have to admit that IE7 represents a huge improvement over the previous version.
  • by Fallingcow ( 213461 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @04:07PM (#15571861) Homepage
    Firefox forces you to use tables for formatting ... or div tags, which is what you should be using. Span tags are inline.
  • I see the argument of Windows Updates a lot as a reason to use IE however you do not need to do it. Change Windows to be "Notify me of new updates" in the security center but "Do not download automatically" and you can do things like select which to install or choose to ignore some updates I haven't used IE in months except to download FF and my computer is up to date but doesn't have every update released (i.e. things like Defender or Office Updates - I don't have office!)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @04:21PM (#15571967)
    Having been on the fringes of the Mozilla project for years, the purpose of the Mozilla project is to promote an open web. Mitchell Baker (project leader) has repeatedly said that the goal is not dominant marketshare, but rather preventing MS or any other vendor from locking down the web. A secondary goal is to advance the state of the web and promoting innovation (SVG, MathML, XForms, WHATWG, etc). The other goals and actions extend from these two goals.
  • by SEE ( 7681 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @04:30PM (#15572014) Homepage
    Well, they could support Win9x officially, of course, like they could also maintain official builds for Solaria, BeOS, and OS/2. It's just seen as more trouble than it is worth to keep the crufty Win9x API code in the Windows branch, and more effort than it's worth to create split Win9x and Windows branches, as opposed to other things 3.0 developer effort could be used on.

    However, if anybody is interested in taking over the work, they can maintain a Windows 9x branch under the same terms as the Solaris, BeOS, and OS/2 people maintain theirs, and have 3.x+ versions of Firefox running on Win9x.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @04:41PM (#15572081)
    Firefox forces you to use tables for formatting ... or div tags, which is what you should be using. Span tags are inline.

    Not only that, but if you use CSS to set that span tag's display setting to block, it then becomes basically the same as a div tag and the width setting works perfectly.

    Say it with me: "Block elements have a width. Inline elements do not have a width." This goes for EVERYTHING. The GP is either clueless or lazy, and I admire neither.

    Oh, and the whole issue is explained in the spec and IE violates it anyway. IE needs to vanish from the face of the earth, its users need to be forced to use something that doesn't suck, and its developers need to be castrated or killed. Why? Just for the fun of it. And besides, who's gonna complain about some missing IE developers?
  • by Zane Hopkins ( 894230 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @04:45PM (#15572123) Homepage
    You can already install firefox without user intervention [], it's a one line change in the config.ini to set "Run Mode=Silent"
  • Re:Standards (Score:3, Informative)

    by LordLucless ( 582312 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @04:46PM (#15572130)
    Then you would have probably got a website that wouldn't render in IE. I've developed a stack of sites, and most of then wouldn't pass W3C once they were complete. They would while they were in development, however, before I had to hack them up so IE could render them correctly.
  • by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @04:49PM (#15572155)

    He said 'representatives', as in House of Representatives.

    They do have an incumbent election rate of 98+% wG&b=196481 []
  • by GreyPoopon ( 411036 ) <gpoopon@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @05:13PM (#15572354)
    There's a double-standard here regarding IE's bundled components and anyone else's.

    I think maybe you need to improve your understanding of exactly what a monopoly is, and what anti-trust legislation is intended to do. There isn't a double-standard going on for two reasons:

    1. Almost _all_ *nix distributions provide a choice in both the desktop and the web browser. The only possible exception is Apple, but the second reason applies to them.
    2. None of the *nix distributors have a monopoly share of the market, and none of them are using a monopoly in one area to extend their control to another. Microsoft was charged with and convicted of exactly that. As a direct result, they are forced to, for a period of time, play by different rules.
    Maybe you don't like anti-trust legislation, but bear in mind that the United States is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the only country that has monopoly-busting laws on the books.
  • by cosminn ( 889926 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @05:22PM (#15572407) Homepage
    So, my household could be counted as 100 percent IE.

    No, these stats are not based on computers sold and firefox downloads made, but what the user-agent string is. So unless you changed your firefox/opera (btw the default is IE) to show up as IE, you will not be counted as IE.

    The only inaccuracy is the dynamism of this: I have more than one machine, more than one OS, each having a different browser. On my Mac for example, I switched from Safari to Firefox to Camino back to Safari to Opera back to Firefox.

    As long as the websites I visit are functional from all broswers I use, I really don't give a crap who has what percent of the market.
  • Re:The IE Thang... (Score:1, Informative)

    by FKnight ( 521972 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @05:41PM (#15572515)
    Windows Explorer can browse the web.. even if you disable Internet Explorer.

    I can't believe I'm replying to this. Just what do you think "Windows Explorer" is rendering the page with? Was everyone absent the day Microsoft integrated IE into the shell?

    The only way to disable Internet Explorer is to format and install Windows 95 Gold.

  • by bsartist ( 550317 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @06:10PM (#15572675) Homepage
    I think maybe you need to improve your understanding of exactly what a monopoly is
    And now come the predictable personal attacks. I know what a monopoly is, and I've no problem with MS being slapped down for abusing theirs. I was cheering for Stac Industries when most of the people here were in diapers, and happily using clone 286 chips (25Mhz! W00t!) from Harris back when 640k really *was* enough for everyone.

    What I'm trying (and obviously, failing...) to point out is that the hard-line distinction made by many (obviously not all) Linux zealots between "operating system", "distribution", and "windowing environment" tends to be conveniently forgotten when it comes time to take a cheap shot at Microsoft. They go on about how IE is "part of the OS", when it's really not all that different from KHTML et al - it's just a GUI component that's used by a variety of apps that are bundled with the distribution.

    Another thing that rabid MS-bashers tend to conveniently ignore is that MS are not the only ones to include such a component - in fact I can't think of a single GUI desktop environment today that doesn't include one. Obviously a lot of people outside of Microsoft agree that the basic idea was a good one.

    Where MS went wrong (and fell afoul of the law) was in refusing to allow OEMs to replace the default HTML widget. That was a policy decision that had nothing at all to do with the technical implementation.
  • by WhatDoIKnow ( 962719 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @06:37PM (#15572820)
    In my country, Nixon was also reelected.
  • Re:Actually ... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Flarelocke ( 321028 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:00PM (#15572931)
    In Firefox, there's an entry in the help menu called "Report Broken Website". Also, the Mozilla Foundation has a site evangelism page here: te/procedures.html []. Broken websites are recorded and tracked in Bugzilla.
  • by cubex ( 714512 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:07PM (#15572971) Homepage
    Once in Staples just for a laugh I asked the guy there which scanners supported linux. With a scowl on his face he said "I don't support Mac and I don't support Linux".

    I told a taxi driver once that I don't use any Microsoft products and he said "I have to use it, I need MSN to stay in contact with my friends".

    Most people I've talked to have no interest in learning Linux and I don't think that it has anything to do with the relative merits of Windows or Linux. It has more to do with saturation. It's not like you can go to your local computer store and check out Majesty Gold or whatever for Linux (at least not around where I live). Microsoft is in the schools, it's in the stores and it's on TV.

    Think about it... most people who go to the store and buy a computer are going to get Windows on their computer. They might download firefox. One people in Staples actually said "I use Microsoft everything to make sure it's all compatible". With this kind of mindset I don't think much is going to change. The masses will continue to use Windows and the techies will continue to use Linux or BSD.

    I'd even go as far to say the lock-in is getting worse. In the 80's I could go to a local computer store and buy a Tandy, Amiga or a Macintosh. Sure, it's all proprietary but at least people had choices.

    Getting back to browsers for a moment, I think firefox is great (adblock is very nice) and I do see people using it. There's a good firefox community who help each other and it is catching on. To take the online census in Canada I did have to use IE on a Windows computer. Some script they used did not work, but the government did say they were working on making their online service more compatible. I did write them an email to complain about it. It's things like that which pull people back into using IE.

    I'm not going to argue the point about IE, I avoid using it 99.9% of the time. In fact I did my income tax for the first time using a web-based service via firefox. The only time I used IE this year was for the census.
  • by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:47PM (#15573134) Journal
    he simply will not be voted out of office short of killing someone. ;-)

    For those who don't know, in his younger days Ted Kennedy did kill someone. In a drunken stupor, he drove off a pier with a young lady in the car. He got out, and instead of going to the police or trying to get help, left her to die in the car. If his ass were black he'd be doing life. If he didn't have a rich family, he'd have done at least twenty years. Instead, coming from a priviledged background, he gets to be a Senator.
  • by AstroDrabb ( 534369 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @08:27PM (#15573274)
    If one product is better, why not use it??
    Well, "better" is very subjective. Would you always choose the product you think is better, regardless of other factors? Personally I look at more factors than just the performance/features/etc of the product. For example, I won't buy Nike shoes because they layoff American workers to replace them with poorly paid shop workers in horrid conditions. There are a lot of products I won't buy because of the corporate greed behind the product and how that greed has exploited something.

    I think some of Microsoft's products are good and others are really crappy like IE. However, I try not to use any of Microsoft's products because Microsoft's business practices of the last 1 1/2 decades have been detestable to me.
  • by AstroDrabb ( 534369 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @08:47PM (#15573328)
    Thus, it's surprising that 10 percent of we non-IE browser users still permit them to track us via WebSideStory.
    That is not how WebSideStory works. The company I work for uses WebSideStory to track our corporate intranet usage (we have 150,000+ employees). Basically JavaScript runs on the main site and in that JavaScript you set up parameters of the page, such as the category for reporting, your account ID, etc. that then gets sent to WebSideStory. So even if you block cookies from WebSideStory, your usage will still be tracked. I guess the only thing that would not work is tracking your session so your not counted as multiple users or something. Now if you turn JavaScript off completely, then no stats will be sent to WebSideStory.

    Seeing a 7%+ decrease in IE usage from WebSideStory is huge IMO. WebSideStory tracks a lot of average Joe-User type sites. If I read about a 7%+ decrease in IE usage from mostly tech-oriented sites, it wouldn't be that big of a surprise. However seeing that big of a drop from WebSideStory is pretty cool IMO. I wonder why Google and Yahoo! do not post their browser stats? Heck, what about slashdot? Why would slashdot not post browsers stats? Did slashdot make a deal with the devil to not show stats for ad dollars?
  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @04:39AM (#15574612) Homepage Journal
    Mod parent up "+1 Good Satire".

    Oh, wait...

    There is a monopoly, but it does not arise from unfair manipulation
    Several courts of law, chambers of commerce, anti-trust offices and other experts, both in the US and in Europe, beg to differ. MS was not convicted for being a monopoly, it was convicted for unfair manipulation (i.e. levering their monopoly into other markets).

    The people are not opressed, users are free to use what they like
    Tell that to the 80% or so who bought "a computer" - which, of course, came with windos. I've met people who believed that Linux must be a windos program, because they couldn't contemplate the concept of an "Operating System". Windos is what runs on computers, isn't it? Every computer runs windos, doesn't it?
    Check with the real world, then come back and you'll laugh at your sentence as hard as I did.

    nor does Microsoft brainwash them.
    Aside from convincing people that windos is computing, using every trick in the book to contain them to their own small world (MSN comes to mind, a huge failure in the market that would certainly be dead if IE wouldn't force you there every chance it gets), aside from the fact that before (win)dos, a computer crash was a serious problem that required attention and an immediate bug fix, aside from the fact that MS stalemated HCI for years by forcing some arbitrary and obnoxious interface on everyone, and aside from their constant attempts to embed their own products as "the product" (IE is still called "Internet" on the default desktop, isn't it? Outlook was called "Mail". Word has become a synonym for word processing through aggressive marketing, etc.)
    No, absolutely no brainwashing going on. Why would a marketing driven company ever want to do something like manipulating its customers?

    Fighting Microsoft gains nothing. They have nothing we want to take.
    They have about $50 billion, much of it gained illegally as monopoly rent. If you don't want your share, I'll gladly take it.
  • by diffuze ( 98862 ) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @08:27AM (#15575021) Homepage
    As an Opera user (both in win and linux) I ask this alot.. and believe it or not but many people still think that Opera is not free. That the free version still has ads. That is the #1 reply I get when I try to get people to try out Opera.
  • by thinsoldier ( 937530 ) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @09:41AM (#15575365) Homepage
    The majority of the browsing public don't care about standards...

    but, the people paying for the websites that the browsing public will visit are interested in saving money.
    Developers who stick to the standards can build a layout that works perfectly in everything except IE in a matter of minutes, then they spend hours and hours (of billable time) sometimes days getting it to work in IE, and that's just css I'm talking about, javascript is even more of a hassle sometimes.

    The browsing public wants 'cool sites' with frequently updated content. Sticking to the standards makes both of those goals much easier, faster, cheaper, better...until it comes time to hack the crap out of it so IE users can get the same experience.

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.