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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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  • I'm looking to see (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @02:25PM (#15571048)
    where Flock is headed (no pun intended). It looks like a great browser. IE7 can ship with Windows all day long, but savvy users will always download something else.
  • Actually ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by medeii ( 472309 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @02:29PM (#15571088)
    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.

    Anyone who found enough reasons to download Firefox before (Adblock? Mouse gestures?) is certainly going to find enough reasons after IE7's release. I downloaded the beta several weeks ago; after a few days of casual usage, I was underwhelmed, annoyed at the intrusive and bloated UI, and unsatisfied as to the permanence and functionality of the new security features. If all you want is tabbed browsing, I suppose IE7 might work, but that's far from being Firefox's only worthwhile feature.

    Obviously, I'll be getting IE7 along with everyone else -- it's a security update, after all -- but that doesn't mean the blue 'E' will ever get clicked. And if my father and sister value their free tech support, they won't be clicking it, either.

  • by Buzz_Litebeer ( 539463 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @02:32PM (#15571101) Journal
    The most disgusting thing about all this is that microsoft really has abused its monopoly in all this. Even if firefox is the best browser ever, developed by volunteers and distributed freely, it is only going to get and keep 10% of the market because IE7 comes with the OS, its easy to use, and it is adequate for most people.

    Why should some consumer go out and download something that they will actually LIKE using as it meets their needs, vs just being useful and meeting their needs. OF course the statement alone describes why techies do it, but it hasnt sunk in with the wider populace.
  • Standards (Score:5, Interesting)

    by janet-on ( 982800 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @02:32PM (#15571108)
    Our website was built by a "website design bureau". We told them it had to be standard, so it would work on Mozilla as well.
    What they produced was an absolute mess. CSS boxes were built to IE handling, and rendered incorrectly on Mozilla, which they consistently referred to as "Mozarella". They believed all problems seen on Mozilla were Mozilla bugs, and they added browser detection and workarounds.
    Of course it still failed on Opera and Konqueror.
    They used an awful piece of Javascript to make dropdown menus.

    When they were done, maintenance was handed over to me and I gradually changed all their work to make a standards-conformant site that still rendered the same way. It was a lot of work, starting from the dire state it was in.
    But finally, it renders OK and the menus work on most browsers without using javascript.

    - CSS menu only works in IE by including csshover.htc (conditional inclusion using !--[if IE]...). maybe IE7 will support:hover on list items?
    - IE4 and below don't quite cut it, fallback to javascript code using serverside UA string detect. these are dying anyway, probably I will remove this support when IE7 appears.
    - bug 234788 in GECKO means the menu disappears when mouse moves over scrollable text area. this bug has been fixed in GECKO but Mozilla and Firefox keep releasing new versions based on the broken GECKO for over a year.... We want Firefox 1.1 and Mozilla 1.8!!!

    What I learnt: use a website design bureau only to make a site design. Don't allow them anywhere near HTML coding. They just use successive approximation towards the "browsers they test with", and try to impress managers with "browser utilisation percentages" instead of standards compliance.
  • constant spyware? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NynexNinja ( 379583 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @02:32PM (#15571112)
    Given the fact that remotely exploitable holes are found with Internet Explorer almost on a daily basis, would having your machine constantly backdoored by BackWeb, BonziBuddy, Gator, Hotbar, Ezula, Weather Cast, GAIN, Claria, etc. be enough to switch?
  • by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @02:34PM (#15571128)
    So does my development time. I swear, i'd be done my own software if i didn't have to support 30 different OS's (Win Service Packs, ect), 40 different versions of web browsers and so on. I can only imagine what IE7 is going to break.

    plus, anyone who is running a Win2K3 server knows there are already security issues, the IE7 patch already came out.
  • XForms (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dsurber ( 53971 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @02:38PM (#15571165)
    Where is XForms support? Yes I know about the Mozilla plug in and all of the other external support, but until it is built into the browser I can't even think about using it in my web sites. The current HTML forms support is crude at best, yet it is crucial for any kind of application. The XForms spec has been around since 2003 and still no browser supports it. Don't wait on MS; they won't support it since it makes the browser a more capable platform for delivering apps and that competes with their OS/application strategy. Opera is supporting Web Forms 2.0, but that is not the W3C standard. I wish the browser community, Firefox, would stop messing around and provide a real step forward in browser capability, XForms support.
  • by bepolite ( 972314 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @02:40PM (#15571186) Homepage
    I've always disliked supporting multiple browsers... and I have a hard time believing that if every browser was standards compliant there wouldn't be some small thing that would be rendered differently enough to cause problems. I don't care who wins but a having just one browser to deal with would make things much easier. That said competition is a good thing. We get more features faster this way.
  • by Asphalt ( 529464 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @02:42PM (#15571202)
    I keep seeing WebSideStory and the other metrics put out stats, but the stats from the sites I manage don't mesh with them, and have not meshed with them in awhile.

    I administer roughly 100 websites, ranging from downright soccer-mom commercial, to those oriented to the more tech savvy, and everything in between.

    Last month I saw 37% of our users arrive via Firefox or other Mozilla project.

    We also go up to .8% from Windows CE (mobile) web browsers.

    I don't know how much stock I put in these various metrics. They always grossly underestimate non-IE browser from my experiences.

    I guess it all depends on what site you measure. AOL.com probably gets 99% IE, while Slashdot probably gets 50% IE.

    Unless you can measure the whole web, which is impossible, cherrypicking sites is always going to produce unreliable numbers.

    I imagine that they poll mostly "mainstream" websites, but the fact is that such sites really account for an overwhleming minority of internet traffic.

  • The IE Thang... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Valthan ( 977851 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @02:47PM (#15571252)
    I am all for stopping that whole Microsoft Monopoly thing, but if they didn't include IE with windows... then how would one get the replacement browser, and don't say FTP because where am I going to get my FTP client without a browser to go d/l it in the first place?

    This is serious...
  • by snib ( 911978 ) <admin@snibworks.com> on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @02:48PM (#15571258) Homepage
    "users satisfied with IE7 may not find enough reasons to download and install Firefox when they buy a new computer."

    I think a lot of Firefox users will still want to get Firefox because for a long time they've been clicking the Red Fox instead of the Blue E to get on the Internet. My friends, I know, will notice this at least, and most likely, when wondering how to transfer all their old bookmarks to their new computer, will look into downloading Firefox because that's what their old bookmarks are in.

    I think that interest in Firefox is not going to decrease with the release of Vista with IE7. A lot of FF users are people who would never switch, and the rest are probably too used to it to go back to IE. MS will have to make IE7 a lot like Firefox if they want to keep casual users from noticing the difference.
  • by Sebastopol ( 189276 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @02:49PM (#15571262) Homepage
    I love FireFox and I will always use it unless something faster, quicker, safer, and more intelligently design appears.

    But what are they trying to achieve? 100% market dominance? Do they need that? Can they sustain themselves just by providing a solid browser to the core 10% of the market that cares? If they are going out of business because they don't have 90% of the market, well then they have work to do. I would think they are just a tool for a niche market of serious computer users, and not the drooling masses.

  • Re:Lack of Change (Score:2, Interesting)

    by OakDragon ( 885217 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @02:51PM (#15571275) Journal
    I actually put off switching to FF because of perceived slowness. My machine is 850-MHz (P3? P4? not sure). The initial FireFox I downloaded (perhaps version 1.0x for Windows) just seemed too slow, particularly the drop-down 'Bookmarks' menu. I trudged along for some time. Then I got really scared by some kind of re-direction exploit for IE that made it look as though you were at (trusted) site A, when in fact you were at site B, i.e., (heh) the address window could be made to report the wrong information.

    So I downloaded version 1.5x or so, and I was blown away by how much things had improved. I became addicted to it's wonderful built-in pop-up blocker and tabbed browsing. I introduced it to my wife, who at first was leery (it was just FUD). But now she wouldn't give up her tabbed browsing.

  • Re:Lack of Change (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aconbere ( 802137 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @02:55PM (#15571314)
    might I suggest a redefinition of correct. As you've defined it, one can only be correct if it displays as IE would. Which is unfortunately completely broken in it's ability to display proper HTML and CSS. I suggest a definition from the W3C which is the standards body that controls the HTML/XHTML and CSS standards that Microsoft has so happily decided to ignore for the last 6+ years. Based on this definition (surprisingly) you'll find that Opera / Safari / Firefox all manage to display pages so much more correctly! It's like wandering into a schoolyard filled with children speaking broken English, and then when you correct them they tell you to "start speaking gooder English". Except that English as a spoken language has even more flexibility than any language that a computer needs to interpret.

    Blame the lazy web designers of the sites your hitting, there are very few things that completely aren't shared between the two browsers, and any savy web designer knows how to hack his code to work with IE (yes that's what it requires).

    /me sighs in frustration

    ~ Anders
  • Re:Actually ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Techguy666 ( 759128 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @03:00PM (#15571358)
    What gets my goat about IE7 is that a lot of the useful modules cost money!! Why the heck would someone pay $30 for a download accelerator or a whois module??!

    Internet Explorer isn't a bad browser in that it's only somewhat more bloated and slightly slower than Firefox for most of Firefox's features (it's still an improvement over IE6 one has to admit)... And it's pre-bundled. The trade-offs aren't that bad.

    However, the fact that if you're a "power user" or if you want to do more current and innovative things on the web, IE7 requires you to pay for the features. That's bound to have a stifling effect.

  • by steve_l ( 109732 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @03:27PM (#15571572) Homepage
    I have to boot up IE once a month to download this months windows/office/IE patches. That's its last role, running an activeX control needed to download the stuff needed to stop your XP box being 0wned by somebody else. There's something deeply ironic there.

  • by Kelson ( 129150 ) * on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @03:27PM (#15571574) Homepage Journal
    For all practical purposes, the war was over in 2001. For the next 3 years, IE6 was the undisputed ruler of the web. And look what it got us [alternativ...liance.com]:

    For 4 years, Internet Explorer went without a significant upgrade to its capabilities. It couldn't even finish support for the specs that had been defined years earlier, never mind adding new stuff.

    With 97% of web surfers using IE6 on Windows, the target was obvious for malware writers: viruses, spyware, and worms burst onto the scene and have gotten so bad that even Microsoft says the best way to get rid of them is to wipe your system and reinstall it from scratch.

    I'd much rather deal with slight differences in standards support (like trying to manage the differences between Firefox, Opera, and Safari today) than deal with huge chunks of missing features and major bugs the way we have to when developing something for IE6 and F/O/S.

    Having more than one browser out there with viable market share puts pressure on the leaders to keep improving their products. Having more than one major target will make it harder for malware writers to hit the entire web at once, and will slow down the spread of malware.

    So yes, we're better off with the competition than without it.
  • Re:The IE Thang... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MarkByers ( 770551 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @03:44PM (#15571676) Homepage Journal
    I meant that they should provide alternative browsers on the install disc.

    But even if they removed Internet Explorer and provided Firefox instead, you would still have to download Internet Explorer anyway to use Windows Update. You are pretty much forced to use Internet Explorer even if you don't want to. That's why it's an abuse of their monopoly.
  • by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @03:45PM (#15571683) Homepage

    WSS has one big issue: they depend on cookies. If your browser doesn't accept their cookies, they don't track browser stats on your hits. If your browser only accepts their cookie for a session and then discards it, it skews their stats. And I'd bet that the majority of people who use FireFox have it set to not accept third-party cookies (cookies from outside the domain of the page being viewed). They're also most likely to have blocked the first-party cookies WSS uses with some customers. And of course as you noted WSS monitors mostly mainstream sites so their numbers tend to reflect the population of those sites (you wouldn't believe the traffic volume associated with Disney or ESPN).

    Then again, I'd say WSS's stats are about as good as it's possible to get without some way to hook into the browser itself. With NAT and proxies and such you need some sort of persistent identifier in the browser itself to distinguish 10 different people behind a proxy each hitting one page from 1 person hitting 10 pages, and cookies are the least intrusive way of doing a persistent identifier.

  • by blzabub ( 889163 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @03:55PM (#15571756) Homepage
    Up until recently (release of Tiger 10.4) all macs shipped with both Safari and IE5 pre-installed.
  • by MasaMuneCyrus ( 779918 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @04:01PM (#15571812)
    It's called business. Because businesses know that if they give more, they get more.

    I dislike Microsoft just as much as the next guy, but I'm sick of all this monopoly talk. You know what? Maybe we should file lawsuits against Xerox. Afterall, they have machines that are copy machines, printers, fax machines all in one. It is an unfair advantage to all of the companies that only make printers. We should make them sell all of them seperately. Yea, that makes sense.
  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @04:15PM (#15571922) Homepage Journal
    It depends on how you measure that, really.

    Let's say you were to look at my house - you'd find most machines have IE.

    What it wouldn't tell you is none of us use IE. The first thing my son did with his new Mac mini, for example, was download Firefox, Adblock, and NoScript and train the latter two in how to permit his fave gaming and flash sites to work properly.

    My WinXP laptop, has IE. But, other than downloading patches to the extremely buggy Microsoft OS, I don't use it unless I'm forced to. I normally use Firefox or Opera.

    So, my household could be counted as 100 percent IE. But, like most MSFT statistics, that would be an inaccurate measure. In fact, it should be counted as 100 percent Other Than IE.
  • Re:Lack of Change (Score:2, Interesting)

    by InsertCleverUsername ( 950130 ) <slashdot&rrusson,fastmail,fm> on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @04:15PM (#15571929) Homepage Journal
    > When you say "us web developers" you must mean yourself.

    O.K., O.K... I meant to say "us LAZY web developers." And I am a very lazy developer. Given a choice between making something once and moving on to the next task vs. continually reworking it for each new browser/version, I'd rather be working on new, interesting things. In the heyday of the browser wars I didn't enjoy having to recode/redesign sites because version mangled things. Your milage may vary, but back in the day I didn't get paid for every fix I made to a site. I just looked bad when the latest IE or Netscape did something unexpected with JS or my page formatting.

    Let me be clear: competition is a good thing, IE is a bad thing, FireFox is a good thing --we're on the same side here. But I'm a lazy developer that only wants to write it once. I know the crappy pages out there are largely due to Microsoft's ignorance of standards. But the fight against MS isn't a religion for me (die karma, die!). I don't care which browser I develop for. All I really care about is productivity. I'm not making art, I'm making money.

  • Re:Actually ... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dfn_deux ( 535506 ) * <datsun510@NospAm.gmail.com> on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @04:26PM (#15571997) Homepage
    I regularly click on well targetted banner ads, particularly on forums which I frequent. I find that the forums admins generally keep the crap to a minimum and only run banners for retailers or sites which they endorse. In the web forum format getting an endorsement from a popular and heavily frequented forum often times is indicitive that other forum members have and do use those sellers/sites and have been generally pleased with their products/services/etc...

    For instance when I bought a new car I searched out a good forum for owners of that particular model and found that the banner advertisers were good reasonable places from which to purchase the accessories which others on the forums were recomending. Also, banner advertisers who recieved bad feedback from forums members were quick to either change their policies/practices or they were removed from the banner rotation.

    It truly is/was a "one hand washing the other" sort of dynamic where users provide revenue for the site admins by clickinbg through to their "sponsors" and the sponsors who provide good service/product recieved more revenue. And I as an end user recieved the benefits provided by both the forums and it's retail partners...

    The basic flaw in your argument is that it is based on the premise that banner ads are spread scattershot throughout the web and that they have little relevence to the enduser OR are primarily directing people to less than savory establishments. This simply is not true and even less true if you combine some reasonable adblocking rules to your browser to allow banner ads only on sites which you frequent or where the ads are often useful to you (which requires some level of paying attention in the first place)...

  • Re:Actually ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dan Ost ( 415913 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @04:36PM (#15572046)
    It takes very little effort to report a problem and sometimes
    they actually do something about it.

    Perhaps someone who make a list of sites that don't support
    different browsers so that peope could organize webmaster
    emailing campaigns to raise webmaster awareness of non-IE

    Has someone already done this?
  • Re:Lack of Change (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @05:47PM (#15572552)
    "I'm a lazy developer that only wants to write it once."

    That's the rub, isn't it? You should be able to create a page that validates per W3C and be good to go. But IE brings you down. It just can't keep up with this "slow moving standards body, W3C." (those are MS words applied to ODF). In fact, I hear that IE7 of the future will not even comply with CSS2 of the past! Now that's "innovation".
  • by mpcooke3 ( 306161 ) * on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @05:51PM (#15572580) Homepage
    Most people are about as likely to install a new Operating System on their PC as they are to upgrade the firmware on their DVD player.

    If an OEM wants to actually advertise and push pre-installed Linux so that people could try it without having to install themselves then that OEM would have it's windows license rebate cut to the point they can't compete.

    In the unlikely event a user knows what an Operating System is and wants to try a different one then he has to do the install and sort out any driver problems himself (since the OEM won't).

    If he succeeds in fixing the various install issues then he will find Microsoft has made it's Office Documents impossible to reliably read in anything other than Windows and with the aid of governments and the media cartels is actively trying to ensure that as much media content as possible will be DRM locked to only play on Windows - with a prison sentence if you try and play it back on Linux.

    Let's remove these unfair market manipulations and check where we are.

    Now there is a common office format reliably readable/writable across both linux and windows and the same applies to all media formats. Every machine is sold without an Operating System by default and if users want to buy Windows/Office they pay for it- Linux remains free.

    How long does Microsoft brand loyalty last now?
  • by MooUK ( 905450 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @06:03PM (#15572646)
    Many distros ship with MULTIPLE pre-installed browsers. All have many different choices available easily enough (considering the average user of those distros). For your average windows user, anything other than IE (if they even know it exists) is not easy to install (by their standards - most of us would find it simple as breathing, but we are not average windows users).

    That's part, but not the whole, of the difference here. They also aren't distributing their own browser. Apple is, so I'm not sure how to treat them, but the linux distros are a completely different kettle of fish than M$.
  • Re:Lack of Change (Score:2, Interesting)

    by frelax ( 891518 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:16PM (#15573007)
    I wonder, is this a strategy? Are there any good reasons not to support the standards?
    'cause Microsofts developpers know about the css problems in IE, don't they?
  • I think the whole Web 2.0 trend (using heavy JavaScript DOM, XmlHttpRequest, and CSS) will probably boost innovation in browsers. As these apps (and "mashups" thereof) get more complicated, it becomes easier for developers to just say "use a standards-compliant browser". This will result in larger and larger groups of people downloading Firefox, Opera, or other standards-compliant browsers, because their friends told them about a site that needs it.

    Web browser innovation is fueled by web site innovation, and vice-versa. If we want "cooler" features in our browsers, we need to develop sites and services that fully utilize the existing features, and push the envelope, while still accomodating enough of the user base to make them useful.

  • by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @08:17PM (#15573240) Journal
    Microsoft has made it's Office Documents impossible to reliably read in anything other than Windows

    OpenOffice on Linux does a damn good job for me, most of the time. More importantly...

    If an OEM wants to actually advertise and push pre-installed Linux so that people could try it without having to install themselves then that OEM would have it's windows license rebate cut to the point they can't compete.

    That's assuming that this particular OEM carries Windows at all. I think a purely Linux computer store could be done. Apple's done it with OSX for years.

    Anyway, just in case someone wants to try it... You could start small, ordering parts off Newegg and assembling low-end computers, eventually getting the volume discounts you'd need. I'd even go so far as to say, roll your own distro, one which closely follows the major ones (and contribute back where you improve!) but is ready, out-of-the-box, with a custom kernel for your chosen hardware and software configured and installed to match.

  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @08:53PM (#15573348) Homepage Journal
    I block scripts using NoScript, so you still don't count me.

    Oh well.

    Right at this moment I'm blocking scripts from:
    1. google-analytics.com
    2. tacoda.net
    3. doubleclick.net
    4. falkag.net

    But am permitting slashdot.org.

    It's time to wake up and smell the Firefox extensions.
  • by Hosiah ( 849792 ) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:03AM (#15574271)
    With a scowl on his face he said "I don't support Mac and I don't support Linux".

    My own mother-in-law tops that. She calls us up and says she found some new software to buy for us. "But we use Linux!", we tell her. She cannot bring herself to speak such a foreign word. We explain that the software won't work on Linux, and anyway we have tons of better stuff for free. She buys it and sends it anyway. Since DRM paranoia has stopped all retailers from ever refunding cash for software again, we call her up and say, "Gee, thanks, it sold for 50 cents at the yard sale." A few months pass, and we have to do it ALL OVER AGAIN. FOR SIX YEARS NOW! I ask her if she can please buy some blank CDs while she's there so I could at least burn new distros that I download. "Blank CDs? Without any software? Why would you want those?"

    With all those fans out there tossing Ubuntu CDs out to everybody, I wonder how many Ubuntu disk recipients take the CD home, insert it, wait patiently for the Windows auto-install dialog to start, give up after five minutes, throw the CD away, and go the rest of their lives saying that Linux doesn't work...

  • by shellbeach ( 610559 ) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @04:16AM (#15574558)
    The thing is that Apple's hardware is proprietary. Unless you're buying from Apple or a cerified reseller, you can't get Apple hardware. Now, there's no such thing as proprietary Linux hardware. If you try to sell "Linux certified" hardware you'll find yourself competing with the likes of Newegg, who can easily undercut you due to their volume discounts and thinner profit margins.

    Actually, I'd love to see a shop selling "Linux certified" laptops - i.e. all ACPI functions working out of the box (including the almost impossible S3 sleep state) on the latest vanilla kernel. That'd be worth an awful lot to me. Not having to pay the Windows tax would be an added bonus ... (and would entice a lot of pirated Windows users too - good for revenue! Not to mention the fact that they might look at the preinstalled copy of linux before wiping, and be pleasantly surprised ...)

    Remember that the laptop market is the growing one right now, and it's not exactly easy, even for linux users, to build a laptop from scratch ... it's definitely a niche where a company could make a profit.
  • by tacocat ( 527354 ) <tallison1.twmi@rr@com> on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @06:36AM (#15574792)

    Absolutely Netscape 4 was shit. It became a painful experience to do anything with it. But I think it's even more noteworthy that despite the fact that Mozilla came from a shit origins, isn't already on your computer, and has no marketing and advertisement campaign, is still capable of approaching a 10% market share based on... nothing that marketing could effet.

  • by Nazo-San ( 926029 ) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @07:12AM (#15574879)
    I think it's interface is unintuitive.
    How so? It has the same interface that Firefox and IE both have basically... Perhaps you just don't like the default settings?

    It's ugly.
    You mean you don't like the default skin? Well, so get another. Like Firefox/Mozilla, the main site has a ton of user resources (look in the "Community" section.) I highly recommend the "Breeze Simplified Micro" which has a very nice minimalistic look.

    It's focused on tabbed browsing, which I do not like.
    Then turn it off. Here's how turn it off in version 9 with four clicks:
    Click Tools (Menu)
    Click Preferences
    Click checkbox next to "Open windows instead of tabs"
    Click ok.

    Most of us want tabbed browsing because it's a wonderful way to clean up the clutter and speed up multitasking. Many are still upset that you have to use a myriad of plugins to get Firefox to handle tabs the way it should (such as by not popping up new windows for things when you want tabs.)

    It is not well integrated with Mac OS X.
    Ok, I'm a linux/windows user, so I can't comment much on this. What do you mean "integrated" though? Normally by integrated one would think of things like IE where they are built into the OS, but, this surely isn't what you want because it's unreasonable to expect that from a browser. In fact, I have been upset since IE 5 when they first started integrating the browser into the OS. IMO a web browser should never be used for things like the desktop and file manager. I used to use things like 98 Lite to remove it even. Unfortunately, with XP removing IE can cause serious problems (it can be done, it just causes problems with some stupidly built things that require fully functional components from it.)

    Experiment around a little more. You may find that when you change certain settings around or give certain things a chance, Opera isn't so bad. In fact, I hated tabbed browsing when I first used Opera some maybe 5 years ago and turned it off, but, a while later I gave it a chance and today I find it to be the most useful thing any program that can involve clutter could possibly do. It cleans things up so nicely. Still, I suppose we have hit on perhaps the real point of the matter. Perhaps the problem isn't that it used to be commercial, nor that it lacks extentions, nor even stuff like tabbed browsing or the interface, but, perhaps what the problem is is that the defaults do not encourage a smooth transition from other browsers. Unfortunately, I have commented on this in the forums and no one cares, so it may continue to hold them back since your average user who just wants to try it out and see will find it so different that they may not give it a proper chance. I would recommend that anyone who can should give it a try for a while, play with the settings, and see if they can't learn to enjoy the advantages it has over Firefox though. There's a reason why even though Firefox is opensource and free and comes with most distros, while IE is integrated (and thus on nearly every windows user's box,) yet Opera is still used by so many people in the desktop world. It may not be the highest market share by far, but, the point is that it is far less negligable than, say something like links, and users aren't choosing it just because they are so happy with the mobile version of Opera (which you likely wouldn't even recognize compared to the desktop version.)

Love may laugh at locksmiths, but he has a profound respect for money bags. -- Sidney Paternoster, "The Folly of the Wise"