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IE Losing 10% Market Share Every Two Years 345

Posted by Soulskill
from the slowly-but-surely dept.
mjasay writes "Mozilla's Asa Dotzler points to some interesting long-term trends in browser market share, noting that 'browser releases aren't having any major impact on the macro trends,' which suggests that a better IE will likely have little impact on its sliding market share. The most intriguing conclusion from the data, however, is that Firefox could surpass IE market share as early as January 2013 if Firefox continues to gain 5 percent every year, even as IE drops 5 percent each year. In the past, Microsoft might have fought back by tying IE to other products to block competition, but with the EU keeping a close antitrust eye on Microsoft and the US Obama administration keen to make an example of an antitrust bully, Microsoft may have few good options beyond good old fashioned competition, which doesn't seem to be working very well for the Redmond giant, as the market share data suggests. Microsoft's loss of IE market power, in turn, could have serious consequences for the company's efforts to compete with Google on the Web."
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IE Losing 10% Market Share Every Two Years

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  • 2013? (Score:5, Funny)

    by jsnipy (913480) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:22PM (#27939225) Journal
    Too bad the world will end at 2012 ;)
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:22PM (#27939237) Journal
    That consists of
    • Corporations with policies of only using IE.
    • Non-technical individuals that have no desire to "upset" the voodoo magic that makes their computer connect to the intarnet.
    • IE enthusiasts.
    • People who use websites that only work in IE (like my employer's time card system brought to you by Mrs. Arnold's fifth grade class).

    These people will always keep IE's share above some percentage (I'd take a stab of about 66.6%). Also, and I appreciate Asa's non-profit work but I must question his for-profit source that he cited [hitslink.com]. Where and how was this data collected? It's a very difficult problem and everyone of these browser-share or operating system-share reports that hits Slashdot are ripped apart by readers as being statistically flawed. No transparency causes me to instantly dismiss these findings.

    • by cayenne8 (626475) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:29PM (#27939337) Homepage Journal
      "Corporations with policies of only using IE."

      But even that isn't working much. I mean, I'm working with federal govt. entities, and they are mandating that you can NOT download and use IE8.

      They have some apps that only work with IE, but, they allow Firefox, and from what I've seen, have no problems with letting you install and use plug-ins and update to your hearts desire. But, they have memos out saying IE8 is verboten, and will be removed from your box if they scan and find it.

      Interesting I'd say....

      • by wjousts (1529427) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:35PM (#27939473)

        I think the reason for forbidding IE8 is more because it's quite difficult to get working installations of both IE6 and IE8 on the same computer. They have shit web apps that only work on IE6 and it's not so much that they don't want IE8, it's that they don't want to lose the crutch of IE6.

        That about how things are at my work. I use Firefox, but IE 7 and 8 are blocked. I still need to use IE 6 for our web apps that don't work in Firefox.

        • by TheLink (130905)
          Well, I've got Win XP on different machines, two with IE7, and others without.

          For some reason the ones with IE7 seem to have problems with fast user switching - sometimes you cannot enter a password so you can't relogin. Coincidence maybe. But given the way MS does stuff, I'm going to skip the IE "upgrades" on other machines till I really have to.

          Since IE is tied up with so much of windows, I'd rather be a guinea pig with Chrome or firefox or whatever than with IE.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by EvilBudMan (588716)

          At work here I have what I want IE8, Firefox3, Chrome, Safari, and Opera. I use Firefox mostly with IE8 coming in second, but Firefox has some memory leaks if pushed hard that IE8 doesn't have AND IE8 is better because of Firefox. So I think Microsoft has some good programmers. They do in fact have some good stuff but their marketing, now, is a different story entirely. But I mostly use IE8 for the same reasons that you use IE6 and it seems to have to do with certain sites where I pay my bills that I may ha

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by eldavojohn (898314) *

        But even that isn't working much. I mean, I'm working with federal govt. entities, and they are mandating that you can NOT download and use IE8.

        I am by no means endorsing or defending IE8 but as someone familiar with corporate America, I can assure you that you are incorrect in your assumptions of motive.

        Whenever a new "most significant digit" version is made in a new product, they wait until it's several subdivisions along before jumping to it. Simple reason is that in the 8.01 versions of weblogic or IE there are likely security issues. Which is why some places are still using Weblogic 8.14 or 9.XX instead of jumping to 10.1. They did the

        • by Tenebrousedge (1226584) <tenebrousedge@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @01:28PM (#27940347)

          Running old versions of software for improved security sounds like eating rotten food to avoid getting swine flu. You have exactly the same chance of running into some unknown virus, and you're dealing with something that you *know* is inferior and a vector for disease.

          "Once it's hardened..." Software doesn't magically become secure after fifty bugfixes. Even if that were true, the security update for IE6 is called IE7.

          I hope you're just informing us of this policy rather than espousing it...it makes my head hurt just thinking about it.

          • by rackserverdeals (1503561) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @02:02PM (#27940895) Homepage Journal

            Running old versions of software for improved security sounds like eating rotten food to avoid getting swine flu.

            No, it's more like keeping the prize you have vs exchanging it for what's behind curtain #1.

            People need to test important software to make sure it works well in their environment. That means not only checking for security issues but making sure something like a new browser will not cause issues for the various in-house and external web applications that are important to the organization. If there are any problems you might have to redo some code that was otherwise working fine.

            Then you have to train your support staff on the new software to deal with any issues that might come up and possibly train other staff.

            Add it into your change control system to deploy it to all the locked down workstations since most of your users don't have rights to install software since that can be a security and support nightmare.

            That takes a lot of time and resources to do. If there's no real incentive to upgrade browsers why bother with the hassle.

            It doesn't sound like you've ever worked in the IT department of any medium to large sized business.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Buelldozer (713671)

            You may be right but trusty ol' Commodore 128 seems to be immune to every web browser attack out there!

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @01:00PM (#27939879)
        Posting A.C. to keep my bosses happy...

        I work *FOR* the government, and your statement is a half-truth. We are not allowing people to download IE 8.x because it is an unknown quantity. IE 7 is a mature product (yeah, yeah) and for all its faults, we know how it will react to our applications and internal websites.

        Please keep in mind, this does not just apply to IE 8 though... any brand-new software must be evaluated and go through a shakedown process before being allowed into the general use.
    • I think you've put your finger on the strongest barriers to entry that Microsoft has erected. However, I'd like to point out that this list is the list of barriers they've retreated to. Bundling used to work in favor of IE. No longer. IE's reputation as the most compatible browser worked in their favor. No longer. Microsoft's hold over the development community meant that applications used to target IE. No longer.

      Microsoft has retreated to the safety of corporate apps. They are slow to change, and in result are dependable. Yet their market share continues to drop. And here's the catch-22: Companies who rely on IE specific technologies (and thus maintain IE as the "standard") stick with IE6. They are now experiencing pressures to change their browser standards. Eventually they will cave to those pressures.

      My expectation is that companies aren't going to be friendly to another round of Microsoft lock-in. They've done this song and dance too many times. Some will fall for it, but I have a feeling Microsoft's market share will vaporize as companies make an effort to target web standards rather than IE-specific technologies.

      So that evil percentage you gave won't be the stopping point for IE. It's going to the bottom whether Microsoft likes it or not.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sjames (1099)

        Agreed. When the browser share is in the 90's, some (too many) apps will target that particular browser and feel justified in not supporting the remaining less than 10 percent. Especially in a corporate environment where there is some justification in insisting on a particular browser.

        However, when it gets into the 60% area, suddenly it's hard to reject nearly half of the potential market by tying your web product to just one browser. Especially when supporting that one can be more painful than supporting a

    • by anaesthetica (596507) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:36PM (#27939501) Homepage Journal

      The link you provided does show IE losing between 7% and 12% per year, rather than Asa's rough figure of 10% per year.

      I agree with your assessment that there is an artificial barrier to Firefox adoption, that in the current environment there is a "natural rate" of IE use. However, as Firefox and other standards-compliant browsers make significant gains in marketshare, several knock-on effects will manifest:

      • New businesses or transitional businesses will have the opportunity to establish non-IE standards for their policies. Back when IE was overwhelmingly hegemonic, it wasn't viable to suggest standardizing on a <5% browser. Now that there are browsers with 20% (Fx) and ~10% (Safari), and Chrome which is backed by a multibillion dollar corporation, standardizing on something other than IE is far more defensible.
      • Absolute marketshare dominance is not necessarily what Firefox or any other standards compliant browser is aiming for, at least in the medium-term. It doesn't matter terribly if there is an artificial floor on how far IE can fall, given institutional path dependency. What matters is that the browser market can achieve a more plural distribution of marketshares. This will have two effects: first, raising the importance of adhering to web standards; and second, raising the importance of competitive innovation by browser vendors.

      In general, I agree with your suspicion that simply extrapolating from raw trends four or five years into the future is not a particularly valid or predictive exercise, because as you rightly point out the sociology of different blocks of users and their needs are different. Firefox may effectively eat up certain blocks, but that's no guarantee that they can effectively appeal to others.

    • by Aladrin (926209)

      When Firefox (or any other browser) gains enough market share, the trend of corporations requiring IE will switch to that the new top browser instead. Yes, it's an artificial barrier now, but it's not something that's insurmountable.

    • by AlexBirch (1137019) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:45PM (#27939653) Homepage
      People who use websites that only work in IE (like my employer's time card system brought to you by Mrs. Arnold's fifth grade class).
      There will be a tipping point when any new web application will have to support all the standards.
      Janus now does this, but when I first was using them 8 years ago, they didn't support any of my browsers so I left them. Today they do, but now I use Scottrade. I think we're close to the tipping point for this particular line item, the others we're just SOL.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by owlnation (858981)
      I think it's likely that IE's market share will decrease in the short term. Doubtless there will come an equilibrium point where all browsers have reached their natural market share. Also, MS has the resources to make IE a good browser if they want to. (pretty much all they have to do is cut it loose from Windows, make it standards compliant, and kill ActiveX forever).

      I'm not convinced Firefox will make significant gains going forward, unless they can address some of the significant problems with browser
    • While what you say is true, it should be considered that different slices of the marketshare have different values to different people.

      For instance, the "we'll be running IE6 until Microsoft finally drops support in Windows for Brainstems Service Pack 8" market is extremely valuable in that it ensures that large corporations will be running windows clients, or at least a bunch of windows terminal servers to serve IE instances to some other sort of clients, until the crack of doom. This gives Microsoft th
    • Corporations with policies of only using IE.
      Policies do change over time. IE policy for corporations don't have much about anything technical about IE, It is about reducing support and development costs, Being IE has the bulk of the market share means it is a good choice to standardize on that technology... For now... But say Firefox takes overs and most of those legacy Active X apps are updated to Ajax or Flash or even shiver Silverlight which can work on multiple browsers, then the policy will start to c

    • I think it is silly to assume that user trends will remain static.

      This is more like an arms race than a steady progression. There will be fits and spurts in either direction depending on who adds what feature, etc.

      How about folks like me who use both? Some things work better in one than the other. Neither costs me any $$ so I keep both on my desktop and use whichever one I feel like.

      What if in 2011 Mozilla screws up royally? Or Microsoft? You can't just look at the past couple of years and assume those tren

    • I'd take a stab of about 66.6%

      Isn't that about where it's at now?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Internet-explorer-usage-data.svg [wikipedia.org]

      I don't think the asymptote is as high as 66%. We're there now and look at how fast IE usage is dropping.

      Anyway, having other browsers make up 1/3 or more of the audience is enough to force websites to be built towards standards, which is the real issue.

    • There's only perception of a barrier. IE rocketed to the top because it was better. Everyone wrote for it as it had a working (as in fully scriptable) DOM and supporting Netscape was a huge PITA. But there was not near the content on the web in the late 1990s, when this all happened, as there is today. So there's inertia, but inertia is not a barrier. If alternative browsers continue to execute well, and IE continues to stagnate, then, IE will naturally lose and we will reach a time when people will on

    • by mcrbids (148650) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @01:21PM (#27940221) Journal

      There is a significant Bellwether for the future in the tech industry - find out what the Nerds are recommending! True of any industry, find out what the pros in the industry are happiest with, and you'll find the up-and-comings if they aren't already on top.

      People come to the "computer nerds" in order to get advice. Sure, many sales happen at the local Best Buy with whatever's on the shelf, but the trends start with nerds who identify new technologies, use them, and then recommend them to friends.

      Microsoft has had a pretty tarnished name among the nerd community for a long time. Is it any wonder that their products are losing market share? It's really only inertia that's propping them up now. ALL of the following are gaining market share at the expense of Microsoft:

      * MacOS
      * Ubuntu
      * OpenOffice
      * PostgreSQL
      * Fedora
      * Zimbra
      * Firefox
      * Chrome
      * Safari

      Any I missed?

      What's more, these technologies represent *core* technologies for Microsoft. Windows + Office are the cash cows for Microsoft, and they are what's most under attack by the Open Source crowd.

      Listen to the nerds. They are the quiet whisper that define the future of the industry!

      • by Smivs (1197859) <smivs@smivsonline.co.uk> on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @02:01PM (#27940859) Homepage Journal

        * Ubuntu * OpenOffice * PostgreSQL * Fedora * Zimbra * Firefox * Chrome * Safari

        Any I missed?

        Opera!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mojo66 (1131579)
      Corporations with policies of only using IE.
      This is backed by the fact that on weekends, FF market share rises dramatically.
  • by Toe, The (545098) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:23PM (#27939241)

    It seems this conversation might benefit from a link to the original source data:
    http://marketshare.hitslink.com/browser-market-share.aspx?qprid=1 [hitslink.com]

  • by Methlin (604355) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:23PM (#27939251)
    As they refine their data they'll find Firefox's uptake will slowly increase and overtake IE market share on December 12th 2012.
    • Re:Date is wrong. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hedwards (940851) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:31PM (#27939383)

      That would be the normal way that word of mouth campaigns go. I wouldn't expect any of the alternative browsers to crack 50%. Not because they aren't good enough, but because there's competition. When IE and Netscape did it, there weren't really any other browsers available to the internet going public. It was also a smaller total market. In more recent times MS had to use it's power to force it up there. Getting above 50% is going to be tough considering the different needs of various people going online.

      But that being said, even with numbers in the 30-40% range, that's much too large of a market for developers to ignore. Plus even if the figures don't get better for the alternatives, the best thing for everybody is going to be when IE 6 dies the horrific death it deserves, abomination that it was.

      • Re:Date is wrong. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jonaskoelker (922170) <jonaskoelker AT gnu DOT org> on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @05:13PM (#27944057) Homepage

        But that being said, even with numbers in the 30-40% range.

        I think it would be good to have healthy competition. 90% firefox--is it really _that_ much better than 90% IE? Won't people become overly dependent on firefox and its quirks? Won't people write web apps which only work on firefox 3.0.5?

        Okay, it's a big deal better than IE, being more standards compliant.

        But I'd rather see healthy competition; IE, firefox, safari, opera, konqueror, each at 10-20%, vying for people's love and affection, competing with each other on who has the coolest features, the best usability or the fastest rendering engine.

        Then again, wearing my free software advocacy hat, I'd like it to be firefox vs. konqueror at 45-50% each ;) -- or there to be more free browsers.

  • by alen (225700) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:24PM (#27939269)

    and no one cares anymore

    MS pushed IE because they were afraid another browser would kill Windows as an app platform. it's already happening anyway and MS is content to license ActiveSync to Apple and Google, FAT32 to GPS makers, Virtual Earth and other cloud/SaaS services they have that don't rely on browser or OS

    • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:42PM (#27939611) Homepage Journal

      and no one cares anymore

      Actually, there are plenty of developers who would love to be able to stop supporting IE. The amount of times things have to be tweaked and hacked just to please Internet Explorer, when the web site already works on most everything else (everything else: Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Opera).

  • Except that inasmuch that it used to help sell Windows, which I doubt has little value any more as a marketing tool as pretty much every consumer knows every machine can get on the net, what's the value in MS dumping lots of cash into a browser war when they have to give the browser away for free? The only advantage I can think of is the value of the default home page for advertising dollars, which has never been their primary market anyway.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      It was to sell Windows and development tools and IIS

      If you developed for Windows/IE/IIS then you use those, and people you sell to use them etc ...

      You make Windows cheap to companies, make IE free, so they will pay to use MSSQL/IIS/Sharepoint and not use alternatives

    • I think it's a major issue for Microsoft. Not for the next three years, but for the next 25 years.

      The reason is that in time the browser will be the only thing you actually run on your computer, everything else will be done via interfaces on a web page. Thus, controling which browser people use means controling how people use/experience the web. And this, in turn, means you can dictate what tools are used to create more complex things (think online word processors and so on). These tools will very likely
  • And Razors, (Score:5, Funny)

    by Bellegante (1519683) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:26PM (#27939291)
    Razors will have 100 blades by 2050 according to current growth rates.
    • Re:And Razors, (Score:5, Interesting)

      by owlnation (858981) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:39PM (#27939557)

      Razors will have 100 blades by 2050 according to current growth rates.

      Could be, but could also be that what will happen is that by the time they get to ten blades or so, they'll introduce the revolutionary technology of the new single blade razor, complete with marketing hype to ridicule the fact that you need ten blades to shave, when one works better and more effectively.

      Of course, the price of the new single blade razor will be roughly similar to the 10 blade one -- if not slightly more expensive. Rather than one tenth of the price like it should be.

      The best use for the single blade razor however, would be to cut the throat of every marketing droid in existence -- sadly, few of them will suffer that fate.

    • by AioKits (1235070) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:51PM (#27939747)
      Man am I gonna look hideous in 2050. I can barely get away without cutting my face with just 3 blades on the device. With 100 I might as well duct tape the cat to my face then jump in the cold shower.
    • Re:And Razors, (Score:5, Interesting)

      by smellsofbikes (890263) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @01:00PM (#27939875) Journal

      I am told that circa 1998, Adobe had posters up in their offices that said something like:
      "In 1975 there were 20 professional Elvis impersonators. In 1995 there were 30,000 professional Elvis impersonators. By 2035 one of every three people will be an Elvis impersonator. Our job is to capture that market."

      Which I thought was funny on at least two levels.

    • by javelinco (652113)
      This shouldn't be moderated as funny - it's insightful. How long does it take for people to realize that trend lines like this are completely bogus? How many failed predictions does it take? There is NO HISTORY that is being projected here. If you take the equivalent of two points of data to make a line - that's not a prediction. That's not a trend line that should be paid attention to - and yet we do, every frickin' day. Wise up, people - the only reason people do this is to "create a news story".
  • by AnalPerfume (1356177) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:27PM (#27939301)
    This is welcome news for today, but lets wait until Microsoft's army of lobbyists have swarmed Washington to see that quietly dropped in favour of hitting Google even harder. The woman dealing with anti-trust stuff that Obamma hired said (I'm paraphrasing) "Microsoft are last century, we need to look at current offenders like Google."

    Bottom line: Politicians lie all the time, this is not news, this is normal operations. Look for the actions to back up any words. Given Microsoft's encamped army in Washington I doubt that sentiment will amount to much.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by im_thatoneguy (819432)

      IE dominated the browser market because Netscape blew monkey balls.

      The reason firefox took off wasn't because of anti-competitive behavior it was because users found a competitive product and decided to replace what they viewed as an inferior product.

  • Someone will have to still deal with MS bundling their crapware version of virtualization aka "xp mode" (notable lack of openGL/D3D support) into the OS - this will be antitrust - IE style, round two.

  • Informed people don't use IE because MS's attempt to tie it into windows resulted in it becoming the least secure browser for Windows. In the old days when IE crashed Windows crashed, everyone started hating it then, and they've preferred to use anything but IE ever since.
  • by bogaboga (793279) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:30PM (#27939363)

    While at school (kindergarten) I overheard a teaching assistant say, "When I opened my Firefox, it still could not work..."

    "I then called my sister who told me to install a new extension..."

    I did not expect to hear this from the assistant more especially because it's IE all through at school and it's been since time in memorial.

  • by AnalPerfume (1356177) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:36PM (#27939493)
    Is that when people realise there IS another option as a web browser, it does not take them long to install it and try it, or have someone install it for them. More otfen than not, when people try a different browser they like it better than IE after they get used to the fact that it's different.

    Often they will feel more for their new browser because they CHOSE it and make it their default, so when an updated IE comes in as part of an automatic update they may not even know it, as they will already be using a different browser. For many people, their memories of IE are loads of pop ups crashing the fucker, toolbars installing themselves and their home pages being changed without their permission. This is NOT a warm and fuzzy feeling to give any "new and improved" IE a second chance.

    People who are already awakened to the fact that other browsers exist and almost all of them are better than IE will happily jump between different browsers, perhaps start with Firefox then try out Opera etc but they are not likely to go back to IE. IE is a one-way exodus and there's nothing Microsoft can do to stop it, all they can do is try to slow the flood by actually making a good product people WANT to use.....for once.

    Don't you just love karma? This is what happens when you let your product stagnate and your users suffer for years because they have nowhere to go. As soon as they do have an escape vessel they rush for it and you're left trying to lock the doors to keep them onboard.
    • by fermion (181285) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @02:08PM (#27941003) Homepage Journal
      In The Structure of Scientific Revolution, Kuhn defines a paradigm as a widely held belief, and a necessary condition for the paradigm to shif is the replacement of the people who believe deeply in the paradigm by those who may believe less deeply or not at all. I mention this to define the term so that no thinks I am speaking market-ease.

      When I was young the paradigm was big iron, as this is what everyone learned in college. For vertical applications there was some variance, for instance there might be an Apple ][ running visicalc. A generation later, around the early 90's, it was MS Windows because that is what everyone used in college, especially the marketing people, which meant that all the grunts and executives had MS Windows machines, the rack was mostly mS windows machines. Again, for special applications there might be a different type of machine.

      MS Windows is not necessarily the cheapest simplest solution, and IE is not necessarily what people use. However, the paradigm of MS/IE is not going to change until the current generation of managers is replaced with a more up to date generation, and the paradigm is allow to shift, so to speak. Cost will likely not play a huge role. New managers and technicians familiar with Firefox and Linux will make the choice. Unfortunately schools are still teaching MS only, on the whole, and managers still tend to be of limited technical education.

      Of course, it will change. A generation was born that did not automatically buy cares from Detroit, so Detroit fell when they had to compete. Same thing for MS.

  • Extrapolation? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AlexBirch (1137019) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:36PM (#27939497) Homepage
    First off I love Firefox and I enjoyed it when it was Phoenix and then Firebird but interpolation is bad enough with trends; but extrapolation? There is a certain percentage of people who care about their computer experience, the rest just "do computer stuff."

    From Life On The Mississippi:
    One of the Mississippi's oddest peculiarities is that of shortening its length from time to time. If you will throw a long, pliant apple-paring over your shoulder, it will pretty fairly shape itself into an average section of the Mississippi River; that is, the nine or ten hundred miles stretching from Cairo, Illinois, southward to New Orleans, the same being wonderfully crooked, with a brief straight bit here and there at wide intervals. The two-hundred-mile stretch from Cairo northward to St. Louis is by no means so crooked, that being a rocky country which the river cannot cut much.

    The water cuts the alluvial banks of the `lower' river into deep horseshoe curves; so deep, indeed, that in some places if you were to get ashore at one extremity of the horseshoe and walk across the neck, half or three quarters of a mile, you could sit down and rest a couple of hours while your steamer was coming around the long elbow, at a speed of ten miles an hour, to take you aboard again. When the river is rising fast, some scoundrel whose plantation is back in the country, and therefore of inferior value, has only to watch his chance, cut a little gutter across the narrow neck of land some dark night, and turn the water into it, and in a wonderfully short time a miracle has happened: to wit, the whole Mississippi has taken possession of that little ditch, and placed the countryman's plantation on its bank.

    Pray observe some of the effects of this ditching business. The Mississippi between Cairo and New Orleans was twelve hundred and fifteen miles long one hundred and seventy-six years ago. It was eleven hundred and eighty after the cut-off of 1722. It was one thousand and forty after the American Bend cut-off. It has lost sixty-seven miles since. Consequently its length is only nine hundred and seventy-three miles at present.

    Now, if I wanted to be one of those ponderous scientific people, and `let on' to prove what had occurred in the remote past by what had occurred in a given time in the recent past, or what will occur in the far future by what has occurred in late years, what an opportunity is here! Geology never had such a chance, nor such exact data to argue from! Nor `development of species', either! Glacial epochs are great things, but they are vague--vague. Please observe. In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. This is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period, just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upward of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod. And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long, and Cairo and New Orleans will have joined their streets together, and be plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual board of aldermen. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.

    Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi 173-6 (1883)
  • Ignorati. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sj0 (472011) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:39PM (#27939545) Homepage Journal

    It's utterly ignorant to believe trends will continue indefinitely in a linear manner. We're in a global recession caused in large part by this destructive thinking. People saw a couple years of double digit returns and assumed they'd continue indefinitely.

    Firefox will rise at a linear rate until it captures its natural market share. After that point, it'll quickly level out. It's a basic first order process.

    Firefox is a quality product, but acting as if the current meteoric rise is sustainable is to join the ignorati who have forgotten history, time and time again.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) *

      Firefox will rise at a linear rate until it captures its natural market share.

      Why do you assume linear change? In my experience, once products reach a critical mass over the competition, they tend to "hockey stick". Which is to say, they make sudden, explosive gains, leveling out near their natural market share.

      I think the 2013 number is bogus, but only because I'm guessing we'll see a hockey stick sometime within the next year or so.

    • by ianare (1132971)

      I see your point and agree with it to a certain extent, but as has been stated, the most important thing here is not marketshare. As long as there are several real competitors, MS will be forced to follow web standards, and everyone will benefit from increased innovation.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    and its hideous UI (that changed in IE7)
    not to mention the built in spywa~~cough "suggested sites" "feature" combined with the IE8 Safersite check and your browser will be spending more time uploading more data to Microsoft than downloading

  • antitrust bully? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Obama administration keen to make an example of an antitrust bully

    It'd be nice to see them take on Apple and their bullshit use of the DMCA to shut down people trying to get iTunes to work on Linux.

  • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:43PM (#27939625) Homepage Journal

    "Microsoft's loss of IE market power, in turn, could have serious consequences for the company's efforts to compete with Google on the Web."

    Um, Internet Explorer loads google.com just fine. Chrome loads microsoft.com just fine.

    It doesn't matter what their market share is, Microsoft already lost. The web is now firmly based on open standards, not proprietary technology tied to a specific operating system.

    What we should be more concerned with is the fact that everything depends on Javascript.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by newell98 (539530)
      Not yet it's not. Flash and Silverlight are everywhere. Until there is solid support for <video>, quicktime and WMV will continue to flourish. Javascript isn't the offender here. Its open (EMCAScript) and finally has decent, standard support across major browsers.
    • It doesn't matter what their market share is, Microsoft already lost. The web is now firmly based on open standards, not proprietary technology tied to a specific operating system.

      If someone could make a browser that did something that was not part of the standards, that appealed strongly to content producers, then, you could get a proprietary based internet. It's that CSS / HTML does the job that people perceive they want Browsers to do.

  • Developers anyone? (Score:5, Informative)

    by WankersRevenge (452399) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:44PM (#27939639)
    I tell you ... I remember back in the day when IE was the browser of choice for developers. Netscape was the nightmare. This was the age of table based layouts and one missed closed table tag stopped the entire page from rendering in Netscape. I don't know when that changed, but now, IE is monkey on my back. At my current gig (huge web shop) we do everything in firefox, and then work out all the kinks in the various IE browser. I absolutely loathe MS for not allowing customers have multiple versions of IE on the machines without jumping through some nasty hoops. And the debugging situation on IE is just abysmal. You'd figure if they improved the development situation on the browser, market share would improve from user experience and developer evangelization. They really need to step it up on all fronts to maintain their position not that I want them to. I think it will be a good thing to have browsers in competition with each other. I certainly don't want Firefox to become the big guy on the block. The only good thing about firefox is the extensions It's the only reason I use the damn thing. 3.0 was supposed to be lean and mean when in reality, it still eats memory like a fat guy at an all-you-can-eat buffet which kills my system. I have hopes for Chrome, but when I'm not in development mode (which is rare since I find myself using firebug all the time to remove annoying pictures from articles or alter inline js), I think Opera is the winner. This is coming from a guy who has been using Mozilla products since the .70 mozilla suite.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Given that installing anything other than IE on a windows machine will require effort on the users' part, there has to be some floor on IE's market share, and a ceiling on Firefox's. At some point, everyone who is capable of installing a browser on their machine at all will have switched to firefox/chrome/opera. That doesn't mean firefox can't someday pass IE on Windows, but IE's share probably could never fall below 25% -- the proportion of windows users utterly incapable or unwilling to install software o
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jedidiah (1196)

      While this is certainly true, there is also the problem of moderately tech saavy
      end users becoming tired of cleaning up after Microsoft. They are likely to take
      the machines of these n00bs and lock them down so that they cause minimal trouble.

      It doesn't even take a "geek".

  • by FriendlyPrimate (461389) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:52PM (#27939755)

    "Did you know that disco record sales were up 400% for the year ending 1976? If these trends continues... AAY!"

  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @01:04PM (#27939945) Journal

    Firefox is able to masquerade as IE. For some sites this has been necessary to view them. This results in Firefox being undercounted and IE being overcounted. (I haven't read TFA to see what, if any, mechanism they used to correct for that. Presuming they didn't...)

    What this says to me is most of the interesting web sites have migrated to designs that don't reject Firefox (and perhaps other "standards compliant" browsers) and as a result more Firefox users are browsing without the masquerade.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cbhacking (979169)

      Ironically enough, I've actually been known to do the opposite when beta-testing IE versions (7 and 8). With 7 it was rare, but by the time of 8 there were plenty of sites that would intentionally feed IE bad code (either in an attempt to be backward compatible to 5 or soemthing, or because they didn't like the browser). Using an IE plug-in, I would masquerade as Firefox or Safari to see how IE's standards mode handled the site. It was a strange sensation to see a site work/look *better* because I *pretende

  • by Shag (3737) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @01:04PM (#27939947) Homepage

    Clearly, people don't feel the price Microsoft asks for IE is reasonable. They should lower it a bit.

  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @02:12PM (#27941071) Homepage Journal

    I didn't pay for the downloads, but my guess is they'll count me as an IE user - even though I only use it to download WinXP patches ...

    Never trust metrics provided by a monopoly.

    Just ask Intel. Or the EU.

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