Who Won the Browser Wars?November 2, 2016
We’re many years removed from the browser wars of yesteryear. While Internet Explorer (IE) handily won the first battle, and survived the upstarts of Firefox and Safari, it’s clearly lost the war to Google’s Chrome browser.
In just the past year, from 2015 to 2016, market share of Chrome has steadily increased while Explorer continues to decline. Current statistics have Chrome at over 50% market share and rising, with the former leader down in the low 20s. Even Firefox appears to be overtaking IE.
Mac vs PC: Who Cares?
One of the earlier factors in browser wars was the Mac vs PC (Windows) debate. All Windows users were using IE, while Mac users were left with either Safari or Firefox (circa 2004). Safari was Installed by default on all Macs after 2003, and Firefox rose from the ashes of Netscape. Yes there has always been Opera and a few other bit players, but nothing that ever gained much market share.
Now that Macs have recaptured a larger share of the market, you might expect Safari market share to increase, but it hasn’t happened. Safari as the default browser means it still enjoys a majority share of users on Macs. But that’s still only a slice of the overall market. Safari for Windows was discontinued in 2012 after a brief run.
Microsoft has been rapidly releasing new versions of its operating system in recent years, and that has affected users of Internet Explorer. The latest, Windows 10, only supports IE 11. Users on older Windows systems were left with older, unsupported versions of IE. But rather than upgrading the OS, many have instead started relying on other browsers instead (such as Chrome), further depressing IE’s market share.
What This Means For Web Design
Modern, standards-compliant browsers have won the war, an outcome that seemed very much in doubt at one point. This is been great for site builders and developers who would like to continue pushing new features to the web. And as a web team, we love knowing our sites look and work the same across all browsers.
The Future of Browsers
We will continue to test and support websites on all desktop and mobile browsers with 3+% market share, and look forward to seeing how these numbers continue to evolve over time. Some questions to consider:
- Will Google Chrome eventually monopolize the browser market? Will action be needed at some point to break up a monopoly?
- Will open-source powered projects like Firefox and the Mozilla Foundation continue to prosper, or fade into history?
- Will Apple eventually abandon their Safari browser as a lost cause?
What do you think? Add your comments below.