From Monday 1st March onwards, you will be forced to make a choice. As a result of the EU Anti-Trust battle with Microsoft, you will be presented with a choice on what web browser you want to use.
When your next Windows update runs, you will be given the choice of whether you want to use Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Apple’s Safari or Google’s Chrome. Each of these will be presented to you in a random order and you will be asked which one you want to use going forwards.
Having made your choice, your computer will install the web browser and this will become the default program that you use whenever you surf the internet.
At projectfive, we’re expecting a few calls from confused people wondering what it means, why they are being forced to make a decision, and which browser they should actually choose – so here’s a few thoughts from your friendly IT support company…
Firstly, it’s not actually going to matter too much!
Each of the web browsers claim to be the most advanced experience with faster page-loading speeds and better security. But, they are all backed by experienced developers with vast sums to spend – so any features that are not there today will be along soon enough. And any security loopholes that exist today will be patched quickly enough too.
You would probably have seen or heard of press stories pertaining to problems with Internet Explorer in the past – but the truth is that the offerings from Apple, Google and Firefox have all suffered in one way or another – but not all the stories make the headlines!
So, the choice on which browser to install really comes down to personal preference or your company’s corporate policy. You may like the features in Safari, or the ‘underdog’ nature of Firefox, or the corporate backing of Internet Explorer.
Internet Explorer currently has the market share in Europe – but it’s a share that has been eroded enormously by Firefox in recent years. Some research has the two level in terms of market share – with Safari, Chrome and Opera barely registering as opposition. So, if you want to look at what’s popular, then it’s Internet Explorer and Firefox that are the key opponents.
However, most Internet Explorer users have just continued to use what was put in front of them when they bought their PC. Whereas Firefox users have made an actual decision to switch – a fact that leads many analysts to argue that it is more popular than Internet Explorer. It will be interesting to see how the market share changes following the Browser Ballot.
Web-designers will always tell you that Firefox or Google Chrome are more ‘standards-based’ than Internet Explorer. But, don’t be fooled – this only really affects them! If they’ve designed a website to work across all browsers, then it doesn’t matter to you if it was slightly harder to create the website in the first place.
From an IT Support perspective, we need to look at the cost of supporting people through the installation and use of a new browser. That’s why, if there’s no compelling business case to change, we’d always advocate using the browser that you’re most familiar with. And for most people, that will be Internet Explorer.
Internet Explorer is also a must if you use any of Microsoft’s other applications such as Outlook Web Access, SharePoint or even Office Groove (to sync your favourites across multiple PCs).
From a personal point of view, one wonders whether Apple will also hold a Browser Ballot on their Operating System, or whether Google will allow Internet Explorer to be installed on their forthcoming Operating System as part of a Browser Ballot. But, I guess that’s a topic for a future story.
So, when the Browser Ballot hits your desktop, which one should you choose? We’d suggest you go with the browser that you’re currently using. If that’s Internet Explorer, then you won’t have to re-learn other subtly different controls. Or, if it’s Safari, Chrome or Firefox, then you’d already made the decision to switch away from Internet Explorer for good reason in the past – so why change that decision now?
As for projectfive, we’ll continue to support our customers with whichever browser they choose.
But, for ourselves, we’ll be sticking with Internet Explorer.