in Technology

Web Browser Battle Royale turns Dirty

The all-out web browser brawl has competitors throwing dirty punches in a below-the-belt free-for-all fight for market share.

As Microsoft IE’s web browser market share slips to an all time low, the gloves have come off as Microsoft begins to exploit the bugs in their competition. At just 54.3% of market share IE has been steadily declining for years, but Microsoft is recognizing a rare opportunity to outwit their competition, despite their inferior technology. Microsoft executive Ari Bixhorn has begun to address high-level enterprise-grade customers like IBM, trying to lure them away from IE competition. Bixhorn has been poking a stick into IE’s competition by trumping the level of support offered by the likes of Mozilla’s Firefox, and pointing out the continued critical-rated security bugs in Google’s Chrome browser.

John Walicki, IBM CIO has openly chastised Mozilla’s refusal to support Firefox version 4 once they move to version 5, a move that Walicki considers akin to a “kick in the stomach”. This sentiment is being felt by many administrator professionals in the IT industry who expect continual multi-version support.

Browser usage as of 2011 February

Walicki is concerned;

I’m now in the terrible position of choosing to deploy a Firefox 4 release with potentially un-patched vulnerabilities, reset the test cycle for thousands of internal apps to validate Firefox 5 or stay on a patched Firefox 3.6.x.

Bixhorn prefaced his plea to Walicki with “although I’m in no position to question a competitor’s approach to customer engagement and support…”, but then went on to kick Mozilla in the teeth-all the while emphasizing Microsoft’s commitment to enterprise clients. The somewhat desperate plea from Microsoft is not surprising given their plummeting market share of all time.

Mozilla’s market share has remained flat since they debuted in 2008, with just 21.7%. That flat-lining however may not continue as they stand to lose a chunk of market share as enterprises switch to the better-supported IE 9. The flat or falling market share from Microsoft and Mozilla is surprising given that both companies debuted new browsers in March of this year.

The market share lost by Microsoft has been usurped by Google Chrome, a web browser that prides itself on speed and innovation. Google Chrome recently inched up to 12.5%.

If Chrome’s meteoric rise to fame wasn’t enough, they are still aggressively clawing away at Microsoft’s IE with their release of Google Chrome Frame – a plugin that morphs IE into an open-sourced mutation. This new-ish plugin from Google allows IE pages to be displayed via Google Chrome’s WebKit layout and V8 JavaScript engines.

ComputerWorld recently ran tests on the plugin and found that it ran JavaScript code 10x faster. The plugin can also be run without detection from most system administrators, something that is scaring the bejesus out of many IT administrators and heads.

In the time of this wacky free-for-all web browser battle, Google Chrome has somehow managed to continually steal market share — despite the prevalence of several critical-level bugs and exploits discovered this year.

But, stealing market share isn’t enough for the not-to-be-outdone Google – they also had to release Google Chrome Frame. With the release of Google Chrome Frame, Google is really able to stick it to Microsoft by attacking them from the inside like a metastasizing cancer.