Microsoft recently released their Internet Explorer 9 Beta to less a fanfare and more a raised eyebrow with a surprised murmur. Internet Explorer has been a much maligned browser, particularly since IE6 which was the target of a campaign by web developers to get rid of it.
But owing to being the default browser setup on Windows, to Windows dominating the home PC market and to the apathy of most home users who aren’t discerning when it comes to browser alternatives, IE still dominates the overall market share. A more meaningful statistic would be an increased market share over the past year. In this arena there’s one winner, Chrome:
IE9 aims to catch up.
The below charts show IE8 being creamed (via overclock.net):
Notice that one of the browsers had a very similar name? And didn’t seem quite so badly outclassed? IE9. It’s changing things for Microsoft’s maligned browser, and it’s doing it as a response to Chrome.
Elsewhere, whilst the Omnibox is a shared feature, the browsers differ when it comes to how much of the web page is given real estate, with tab placement giving more height to the page. The menu bar is gone, the navigation controls have been rearranged and navigation buttons actually change colour given the site being browsed at the time. Even Chrome doesn’t do that, but that’s likely because it’s not trying to better blend into Windows 7.
Microsoft’s improvement has certainly been noted but a valid note of caution remains; indeed if not without Chrome’s strong show, would IE have evolved to the stage it’s at now? Conversely, does IE’s resurgence not force Chrome to stay on its impressive genesis? GPU support in Chrome 7 aside, Chrome 6 still has work to do when it comes to HTML5.
It’s enough to make me look at IE again. Willing. To look. That’s all.
Do you think Chrome has anything to fear from IE’s makeover? Do share your thoughts in the comments section below.
By Greig Byrne