Friday, July 24, 2009

Browsers Are Free

Micro$oft has paid $2,390,000,000.00 in fines to European Union antitrust regulators so they could bundle their Windows-only Internet Exploder browser with their OS and not have any other browsers loaded on the computer. Browsers are free. You can load a million of 'em. You set one as a default & go. There are different add ons and plug ins for the various browsers - the browser that works best for you and has the features you need and renders pages to the best of your liking is the one you should use.
Fact is - they all render about the same except for Internet Exploder. Firefox has some great plug ins. It renders quickly and accurately but it is slow as hell to launch. Safari launches quickly, renders quickly and accurately but is lacking in quality add ons. Opera is a solid, quick browser and Chrome seems ok, although the interface of Chrome is bit radical. Would M$ spend >2B so people don't see what a piece of shit one of their software products is even though anyone with a third of a brain could already load another browser & test it for himself and see ?
IE defaults to the Bing search engine which gets M$ some ad revenue. $2B worth ? I am assuming IE lets you pick a default search engine other than Bing.
How much are Apple, Google, Mozilla & Opera going to charge M$ to distribute their browsers ? $2B ?
How much money is behind a bit of free software ?
To me, it's just a matter of A. displaying pages properly and then B. rendering quickly. The Web Standards Project has created the Acid Tests that see how well browsers handles html, css, javascript, SVG and other standard web junk. IE generally comes in last and Apple's Safari beta kinda thing browser, Webkit, tends to rate highest. What do people use ? They ain't using Safari.
What I'm seeing on this dumbass site -
  • Chrome 3.2%
  • IE 38.2%
  • Mozilla/Firefox 39%
  • Safari 13.2%

Operating Systems:
  • Linux 2%
  • MacOSX 21.2%
  • WinVista 10.8%
  • WinXP 55%

Worldwide, IE commands closer to 60% of the market share. Except - it's free. So is it really a market share ? I guess it is since M$ is fighting so hard to keep out competition (which, of course, stifles innovation).
Most people are lazy and just use what's on the computer when they buy it. I use Macs but the first version of Safari was crap so it took a few revisions before I started using it full time. It doesn't work well on some sites. Angie's List log in form won't work with Safari and the HamCo Auditor's site crashes it. Because of IEs broad use, web developers have to write pages wrong just so they work with IE. The average shmoe doesn't understand this and just assumes the page is wrong if it doesn't work with the browser he is using. Frankly, I would love to know how to make a form not work with particular browsers. Seems like the useless kind of knowledge I crave.
In the end, I don't understand either the EU or Micro$oft on this and I cannot believe the amount of money M$ is paying to promote the least competitive product in it's field. How about M$ dumping IE and just distribute Firefox with a search that defaults to Bing and give the U.S. gummint $2B to fix some bridges and sewers ? Everybody is better served, people get a better browser, M$ doesn't have to pour more money into that black hole of software development, IE, American money stays in America.....
I don't get it.

Yahoo/Reuters story here

No comments: