Browsers

Will Firefox Ever be Able to Gain Enough Traction to be Taken Seriously by Microsoft?

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When looking at the stats for this blog I found that over 70% of the traffic that we are receiving is from Firefox users! I shouldn't be surprised since most developers (especially developers that write a lot of JavaScript such as Ajax developers) prefer Firefox over Internet Explorer. As a developer I always get my code running in Firefox first as it is more strict and has better script debugging (in fact there have been quite a few times that IE will not display an error but the script won't work, however, if you run the same script in Firefox it will throw an error that is useful).

All of this got me thinking if there will be a time that Firefox could have as much as 50% of the browser market. According to a CNET article (click here to read the article) Firefox has 12.5 percent of the browser market as of 2006 and some say that it is now around 20 percent. This is enough to make Microsoft take notice, but not enough for them to change their ways. You may be asking why does Firefox's market share matter? Well if Firefox gains enough market share it will force Microsoft to better adhere to standards instead of force feeding us technologies like Silverlight. This could be huge when the next version of JavaScript is released as IE will probably not adhere to much of the new standards.

Unfortunately, Microsoft has not shown that it really wants to adhere to web standards (I personally was extremely disappointed with IE 7 as it promised to fix so many things and didn't take care of many of them, plus it seems to render pretty slowly). Microsoft has shown that it is trying to take over Flash's place in the market with a plug-in that runs on Linux for Silverlight. This seems to be great, but if they can take over the marketplace then they will probably remove the Linux support and try to force everybody to IE and Vista (this is the way Microsoft has been in the past). Microsoft not adhering to standards is the reason that we still have to write browser specific code (it is not as bad as it once was, but it isn't that much better).

This leads to the question of how will Firefox be able to get enough market share to scare Microsoft into playing fair by adhering to standards? Only a small amount of home users will change browsers, since IE is built into their operating system. So, where the change needs to start happening is at the workplace. The more enterprises that start using Firefox will not only increase the market share of enterprise users but would probably start increasing the amount of home users as people that had never used Firefox would come to love it as most tech people do (I know this may just be a dream).

So now that you've endured this article (and no I'm actually not 100% against Microsoft) keep browsing with Firefox as the more that web masters see Firefox the more market share it has. So, please don't use IE, use Firefox instead!

I know that you all have comments, so let me know what you think about this topic.

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