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


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