Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Internet Exploiter?

Who says Microsoft is a monopoly? Two independent reports discovered that the company’s Internet Explorer browser's market share dropped below 90% as people make the transition to open source browsers like Firefox.

Virtually all accounts justify the move that IE is inferior to so many others: it’s riddled with flaws, poor at blocking pop-ups and lacks enough security. So why is the share still so high? Critics of Microsoft sneer it’s because IE is written into Windows and you can’t delete it. But since Microsoft doesn’t make anyone use it, the complainant reduces to the fact that IE is a giveaway.

Again we ask why IE is so heavily used. It’s ultimately due to three issues: knowledge, trust and costs. Most people don’t know much about computers, thus they don’t know how good things can be and they don’t bother to look for them. Even if they find an alternative, there’s little guarantee the browser is better and virus-free. Microsoft may not be perfect but few believe its products will wipe hard drives. But by now Firefox is well enough known and trusted, these barriers become less significant (though most people don’t know how much better the alternatives can be, so knowledge is still an issue). But there are significant costs to a new browser, even if it’s free.

I’m using IE now and I’m looking to switch, but I’m also dreading it. I’m used to IE’s organization and want to avoid all adapting to a new one. I have scores of sites bookmarked and they’re organized in just the way I like it. I don’t want to bookmark all over again. And all of those little things—getting used to clicking a new icon, being comfortable with a new look, learning to ignore all the minute details I may not like—encourage me to put off the transition.

Most people just want to get online. I-Mac’s success demonstrated that. Plug it in, click the icon and start searching for porn. IE’s success isn’t due to force or monopolization, its laziness. But it looks like that’s slowly changing.

1 comment:

Chris said...

ha, ha, ha. Right b/c "searching for porn" is the only thing that keeps the internet running!

good, good!