Microsoft has come up with IE 8 (beta available for public download). A normal reaction would be… Big deal, who cares about a browser from Microsoft, Firefox just set a record of maximum software downloads, it’s hands down the best browser and Microsoft sucks.
Back in ’97
Well, it is a big deal because I see history repeating itself. Back in 1997, Netscape was the leading browser and IE 3 had performed abysmally. Marc Anderseen, Netscape’s co-founder said
The browser, could “reduce Windows to a set of poorly debugged device drivers.”
Microsoft saw a potential threat and in 4.0 release created the best browser of the time. According to BroadbandInfo
The main reason that Internet Explorer was able to beat Netscape Navigator was because it had, quite simply, built a better browser.
The user experience on IE 4 was so good that you saw “Best viewed in Internet Explorer” splashed across pages all over the world wide web.
Fast forward to present day and the browser threat is alive and kicking, more importantly Marc Anderseen’s words seem to be coming to fruition, with Web 2.0 and cloud computing, browser is on it’s way to becoming “the universal client”. Firefox share in the browser market is 19% and growing, and Google’s looming on the horizon.
Back in 2001, Microsoft was resting on its laurels and launched IE 6, it was a disaster and caused the Exodus to Firefox. IE 7 was a catch up effort and IE 8 is Microsoft’s answer to Firefox. It intends to beat Firefox in performace, features and user experience. Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer group says
In things big and small, it is a better experience
My point of view on Microsoft
I’ve been watching Microsoft since the MS-DOS days and have seen it proclaimed dead many a time, and everytime it faced stiff competition I’ve seen Microsoft bounce back from the dead and steamroll it’s way through the competition, obliterating anyone in its path, big or small, be it Netscape or Sun Microsystems by offering better products.
Unless Bill’s departure has changed Microsoft’s DNA, we’re going to see history repeat itself one more time.