The recent survey by NetApplications claims that Microsoft’s share of browser market has fallen to below 70%. Whilst many would cheer the news of Microsoft loosening grip on the browser market, there are many reasons we should not crack open the Champagne yet! Fragmented browser market is not such great news and here are some of the reasons.

1. Website Code Compliance

When designing a website one of the many tasks responsible design companies should carry out is “browser compliance”. For the uninitiated and the non-technical readers this is necessary to ensure that your fabulously designed new website actually looks and behaves the same no matter what browser your visitors are using.

Now you may be surprised to hear that all browsers are not the same! You rightly assumed that browsers would simply read common and standard codes such as HTML and then present them to you as it was intended. This is a massive assumption and is wholly incorrect. Browsers treat codes differently and you will be surprised at how different websites could look if they were not treated to some serious and detailed surgery by the code-writers. If you have more than one browser installed try the same website using different browsers and you can occasionally find the ones that have missed these corrective action, which will reveal the vast differences in browsers.

Fragmentation of the market means we now have to check for more and more different browsers, and take on more corrective actions. Up to recently this was easy, we just tested Microsoft Explorer 6/7/8 (yes there are differences even within the same brand) plus Firefox 2/3, and that was 95% of your visitors taken care of. Fragmentation of the browser use means websites need to be tested against 5 or 6 different browsers as well as at least the last 2 versions of each. The question has got to be ‘Who is going to pay for this?’ The answer is simple, the poor bewildered website owner!

2. Knowledge Dilution

We all know the smart computer wizard that can do all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff on the PC, leaving us speechless. This level of skill comes from combination of usage and acquired knowledge from growing communities that use the same software. This type of knowledge is not just for fun but is also extremely useful when designing applications or supporting users in an organisation.

The ease of support is one of the many reasons large corporations standardise on software including browsers. When you have the entire organisation using the same software, it becomes much easier to support the users and obtain knowledge.

Fragmentation of the market means in time we will increasingly use one type of browser at home and probably another one at work, which has been sanctioned by the corporate IT department. This means users will become ‘Jack of all trades and master of none’, as their skills and knowledge base is split between at least two different browsers.

3. Security challenge

With the increasing variety of browsers, organisation and individuals become less certain about their most vulnerable software on their Computer. Remember your browser is the primary interface with the outside world and is most likely to catch a cold!

With multiple browsers in use probably on the same computer, you can leave yourself open to vulnerabilities of both. In effect you can catch a virus on Microsoft IE7 even though your Firefox is immune to it, effectively leaving a backdoor open for viruses to enter your system. This could result in organisations enforcing browser use more vigorously, effectively returning all of us to single browser users.

So whilst it may be good news for Browser companies to see Microsoft be humbled, users we may look back to these days with the nostalgic ‘good-old-days’ of simplicity and the age of innocence!

At Cognisant Associates we can help your business by designing websites that are user-friendly, easy-to-navigate, fast-loading and are tested for compliance. Contact us to see what we can do for your company.


By admin