In June, I put up a post noting that open-source browsers accounted for
more than 50% of the hits at ScienceBlogs. At that time,
Firefox was 48.17%. Since then, Microsoft released IE7, which
includes a tabbed interface, and other enhancements that Firefox (and
others, e.g. Opera and Safari) have had for a long time. I
wondered if Microsoft would get some of their market share back.
ScienceBlogs Browser Share as of June 2006
Now, six months later, we see that Microsoft continues its
slump...continue reading below the fold...
Although you may wonder why it matters, because both products
are free, in fact it matters a lot. Whoever controls the
browser market controls the first thing that people see when they use
the Internet. That has marketing value. Plus, the
more people use non-Microsoft products, the more they realize that
there are good alternatives out there. Finally, there is the
issue of bragging rights.
One of the things that slows the adoption of open-source software is
the unfounded perception that free software is not as good, either
because it is harder to use, or has fewer features, or something like
that. Firefox disproves those misconceptions.
ScienceBlogs Browser Share as of December 2006
At least among ScienceBlogs readers -- arguably a more sophisticated,
knowledgeable, trend-setting group -- Firefox is increasingly popular.
But what about the general population? Has the new
version of IE made any difference? Apparently not.
Although the stats vary depending on various factors, the
following graphic probably illustrates a real trend.
As an aside, the gzip share does not
represent a particular browser. Wordpress has the ability to
content that is compressed using the gzip format. Some RSS
support that, to save bandwidth. It is not possible to tell
browser those people use.
Unfortunately, their data end in November, and IE7 is so new that it
might not have had time to have a big impact in that data set.
If it does make a difference, it is likely to slow the drift
away from IE, but not reverse the trend.
Now why, you may ask, does a blogger care what browser people use?
The reason is simple. Bloggers want people to read
blogs. The easier it is for them, the more they will read.
Having a good, fast, efficient browser will help people keep
track of blogs better, and read them more often. Modern
browsers make it easy for people to subscribe to blog feeds, so they
can always see if there is new content. (In Firefox, just
click on the little orange square (with the white dot and curves in it)
next to the URL in the address bar:
You might have to be willing to just mess around with features like
that in order to learn to get the most out of your browser.
But the more features you learn to use, the more efficiently
you can make use of the Internet in general, and blogs in particular.
Fun visual: the Firefox crop circle is now visible on Google Maps!
alt="Firefox 2" title="Firefox 2"
Like you I watch the browser stats on my server at work. Firefox accounts for 9% of the traffic on our site.
I'm loving that scienceblogs readers are a Firefox friendly group.
Oh, btw IE7 was part of my most recent system update. Installing it not only sucked (IE crashed on first run! - I replicated this on my office machine too!) it disable Firefox 2.0.
Sneaky underhanded MS bull! Used SyRes to go back a couple days and get rid of IE7. IE7 is also causing issues at work. And you're right, there's nothing to be afraid of regarding OSS.
At work we use LAMP, Blender OpenOffice, etc.
Although you may wonder why it matters, because both products are free, in fact it matters a lot. Whoever controls the browser market controls the first thing that people see when they use the Internet. That has marketing value. Plus, the more people use non-Microsoft products, the more they realize that there are good alternatives out there. Finally, there is the issue of bragging rights.
I'd say that the big reason is that a diverse ecosystem supports further innovation - firstly because of increased competition and secondly because rich software ecosystems tend to encourage better standards compliance (which makes entry easier for new players).
Microsoft domination of a market segment has historically not been good for innovation in that segment. We can only hope that more challenges to MS, whether FOSS or closed-source, will arise.
W00t! Safari also crept up by .1%!
Doesn't seem like much, but then, there are a lot fewer Macs than PCs out there, so every bit counts.