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The business crowd is warming up to Firefox

A new study shows that in at least one sector 2007 was a very good year for Firefox and a bad one for Microsoft's Internet Explorer.  The pair squared off over the course of last year and have been fiercely competitive.  Microsoft and Mozilla were not above talking a bit of trash about each other's browsers, with critical words exchanged.  Mozilla showed modest gains overall, but still trailed significantly in market share to Internet Explorer in overall adoption.

Now, as Firefox 3 prepares to square off with Internet Explorer 8, this new study, released this week by Forrester Research, paints an intriguing picture of Firefox's significant 2007 gains in a very important market sector-- the business community.  The survey, which collected data from over 50,000 large enterprise employees, discovered that over they year Microsoft's browser marketshare fell 10 percent, while Firefox's share jumped from 9.8% to 18%.

More interesting still the survey reveals how Internet Explorer 7 struggled to win adoption in the business community.  The survey found
55.2% of companies still use IE 6 as of December 2007.  IE 7 only has a 23.4 percent adoption rate, just barely more than growth and use of Firefox.

Interestingly, Firefox 2.0, released in October 2006 "
almost completely replaced" the previous browser, Firefox 1.5.  The study indicates that the strong growth of Firefox evidenced both by the strong adoption of Firefox 2.0 and by the overall market share growth was driven by employees, not IT managers, for the most part.  The reports states, "Mozilla continues to expend little energy on wooing IT managers to formally adopt Firefox."

The report also notes that many IT shops are moving to support Firefox with
enterprise Web apps, despite taking a backseat to employees in pushing the browser's adoption.   Forrester analyst Thomas Mendel states that new numbers spell trouble for Microsoft.  Says Mendel, "Even with Microsoft spoon feeding users high-priority automatic updates, enterprise apathy is proving extremely difficult to overcome."

Mendel advising companies hoping to stick with Microsoft who haven't upgraded to IE 7 yet to wait to upgrade until the release of IE 8.  The IE 8 browser is expected to be more competitive with Firefox.  IE 7 largely played a catch-up role, adding features such as
improved security by blocking known phishing sites, increased standards support, tabs, a search box, and RSS support.  IE 8 will pack more advanced features, though, making it more viable.  Internet Explorer 8 builds on IE 7's progress with such features as site blocking for malware sites, even more standards compliance, WebSlices, and Activities.

Unfortunately Microsoft faces a major deal breaker in one of its own aforementioned accomplishments.  By implement a more standards compliant browser for IE 8,
analyst firm Gartner believes Microsoft will break many of the existing business web apps developed for older non-standards compliant versions of the browser.    This could lead these apps not to render properly.  Gartner states that it strongly urges companies to "strive to design for standards, not browsers."

Also another point raised by analysts is that many of IE 8's features require Windows Vista adoption.  With many companies still using XP and reticent to switch, this could also hinder adoption.

Despi
te what is expected to be its most advanced browser yet, Microsoft faces a tough road in 2008, if the trend from 2007 continues.  Microsoft is left to hope that IE 8 can salvage its slipping grip on browser marketshare in the business sector.


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RE: I'm tired of the browser wars...
By FITCamaro on 4/3/2008 2:31:42 PM , Rating: 1
Firefox supports CSS better than IE7 in some instances and vice versa. I'm starting to do some web development here at work so I'm seeing some of the difficulty of getting the same output on both browsers. From what I've seen, in some instances, IE7 follows the CSS standard better than Firefox.

As far as Firefox making inroads in the business world. I have no doubt that many employees enjoy using Firefox. And I'm sure some IT departments are starting to support it. At my company though, they have completely blocked Firefox from working outside the corporate network and force us to use IE6 or IE7 (depending on whether they've upgraded you yet).

I have no problem using IE7, but the biggest thing I hate is that even IE7, while supporting tabbed browsing, is far worse at handling them. In Firefox, most pages that open a new window are opened in a new tab. In IE, it still opens a new window which frustrates me because I don't want multiple windows. I use IE7Pro to try to remedy some of this.


By therealnickdanger on 4/3/2008 2:40:20 PM , Rating: 1
Click the middle (scroll) button when clicking a link, the new window will always open in a new tab.


By fuser197 on 4/3/2008 3:02:00 PM , Rating: 2
There's also a setting in Tools > Internet Options > Tabs > Settings to "Always open pop-ups in a new tab".


RE: I'm tired of the browser wars...
By fic2 on 4/3/2008 3:07:43 PM , Rating: 2
Where I am doing work if you access an internal system with IE it pops up a little dialog that says, "The system has detected Internet Explorer as your browser. It is strongly recommended that you use Firefox" and gives links to the Windows, Linux and MacOS versions. So, I would definitely say they support FireFox.


RE: I'm tired of the browser wars...
By therealnickdanger on 4/3/2008 4:33:44 PM , Rating: 2
Probably only because the nerd (aka IT staffer) in charge just likes FF more.


RE: I'm tired of the browser wars...
By Snuffalufagus on 4/3/2008 5:23:31 PM , Rating: 3
My guess is you nailed it.

We would dismiss an IT guy like that around here. Not because of his product choice but the rather wilfull imposition of his own personal choice on others without good reason. That is of course provided they don't have sites which are FF only, but then that goes against the whole standards idea.


RE: I'm tired of the browser wars...
By fic2 on 4/3/2008 5:38:10 PM , Rating: 3
My guess is that it was for security and standards.

If you were working here you would have dismissed your whole server team.


RE: I'm tired of the browser wars...
By fic2 on 4/3/2008 5:39:46 PM , Rating: 2
BTW, how many websites have you come across that are IE only? Wonder if it was because some no-nothing manager forced it to be...


RE: I'm tired of the browser wars...
By wien on 4/3/2008 3:21:16 PM , Rating: 2
Care to list a few of these instances where IE7 is more compliant than Firefox? Because I sure haven't found many of them compared to instances of the opposite.


By bhieb on 4/3/2008 4:59:52 PM , Rating: 2
Or just change the option to open popup in a new tab.


RE: I'm tired of the browser wars...
By smitty3268 on 4/3/2008 9:20:54 PM , Rating: 2
I'm a web developer myself, and I'm trying very hard to think of those situations you're talking about where IE is more CSS compliant than Firefox. And failing. Care to educate me? I don't doubt that there may be 1 or 2 special cases, but I think it's very misleading to present the two as being on equal ground.


By Drizula on 4/4/2008 2:02:26 AM , Rating: 2
As a web designer I have found that IE7 is definitely not as standards compliant as FF. It sucks when you either have to do conditional comments or hack your css files. FF isn't perfect, but it has some nice add-ons that help me out a ton.

IE7 is a huge improvement over 6, unfortunately IE8 isn't going to matter for quite some time until IE6/7 get phased out.


By MrBungle on 4/4/2008 3:07:07 PM , Rating: 2
This is FITCamaro we're talking about here, who is an expert on everything. I'm sure that you can just take his word for this.

"I'm starting to do some web development here at work" - sounds like an authority on the topic to me!

</sarcasm> (and waiting for FITCamaro to tell me why this closing tag isn't even necessary - hey, the page renders OK without it!)


"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007














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