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  1. #1
    Ensure you finish what you sta bronze trophy John Colby's Avatar
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    What are the PC/Win browsers of the future?

    I'm only concerned here with PC/Windows browsers. It seems like the goalposts are changing. Here's my take on testing for the future:

    Use:

    IE 6 - like it or loathe it - we're stuck with it.
    Opera - getting there - stick with it expecially for accessibility and mobile apps.
    Firebird - getting better - especially as it's going to replace Mozilla in the browser context.

    Forget:

    Netscape - any version - not being developed
    IE 5.5 and below - being repidly eclipsed. - See browser stats at www.w3schools.com
    Mozilla - virtually redundant - see the new Firebird takes.

    I KNOW there's Linux and Mac - at this stage I'm just talking about PC/Windows. And I'm talking future - not what only exists today.

    What does anyone else think?
    John
    No electrons were harmed during the creation, transmission
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  2. #2
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    I think IE will still be popular only because it's included on every system and very few will actively change their browser. Mozilla and Opera have a good chance to change people's minds now, but they have to convince the public, not developers, that their software is superior. They've done a great job with those of us who develop on the Web, but by and large the rest of the world doesn't even know they exist.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Evangelist N9ne's Avatar
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    I think there's not much hope really, IE WILL still be THE browser for the people 5 - 10 years from now, as long as Microsoft continue to supply it with windows. Why? because most people buy windows. Most people don't know about other browsers. Many people don't have time to get 'another' browser when they 'think' that IE is displaying all pages 'correctly' (when it isn't really). Most are satisfied with IE.

    So therefore IE is far ahead of its competition. Take no notice of polls on webmaster oriented sites because they're just the votes of web designers! Web designers don't make the population up.

    That's my $0.02 .

  4. #4
    SitePoint Guru bronze trophy blufive's Avatar
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    I think it would be wise to pay attention to the Mozilla browsers. Their market share amongst technically literate users is growing steadily. Web-oriented sites like W3Schools and WebReference.com are seeing them at 6-8% and rising. Heading out into the blogosphere, popular sites like Daily Kos and InstaPundit are routinely seeing 15-25% of their visitors using "netscape 5" (click on the SiteMeter icons at the bottom of the pages)

    regarding distribution: There's nothing to stop OEMs and ISPs integrating/distributing alternative browser software if they think customers want it (except maybe fear of retribution from Microsoft, even though such behaviour has been ruled illegal, at least in the US)

    You only have to look at the speed of Netscape's slide from ubiquity to obscurity for a reminder of how fast things can change.
    Quote Originally Posted by John Colby
    Mozilla - virtually redundant - see the new Firebird takes.
    Under the hood, they're the same rendering engine anyhow. From the perspective of "what do they do to my web page", they're all but identical. However, from some angles, Mozilla-the-suite still has better features (the DOM Inspector and JS debugger are very useful) and still accounts for most Mozilla users (for now).

  5. #5
    Ensure you finish what you sta bronze trophy John Colby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blufive
    You only have to look at the speed of Netscape's slide from ubiquity to obscurity for a reminder of how fast things can change.Under the hood, they're the same rendering engine anyhow. From the perspective of "what do they do to my web page", they're all but identical. However, from some angles, Mozilla-the-suite still has better features (the DOM Inspector and JS debugger are very useful) and still accounts for most Mozilla users (for now).
    The reason for defining Firebird and not Mozilla is stated in http://texturizer.net/firebird/faq.html#q5.1 which says:

    5.1 What's happening with the Mozilla Firebird development?

    Mozilla Firebird will be used as the default browser in Mozilla. The current Mozilla suite will be replaced by stand-alone applications.

    They will become one and the same - and my original post concerns future developments, no matter what the browser suite is eventually going to be called.
    John
    No electrons were harmed during the creation, transmission
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  6. #6
    ko pročita magarac :) boccio's Avatar
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    this is from my website (webalizer 2.01)

    Top 15 of 167 Total User Agents
    1 34.31% Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1)
    2 11.37% Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.0)
    3 6.83% Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98; DigExt)
    4 6.21% Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows 98)
    5 3.93% Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; .NET CLR 1
    6 3.62% Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.01; Windows NT 5.0)
    7 1.96% Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.5; Windows 98; Win 9x 4.90)
    8 1.56% Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows 98; Win 9x 4.90)
    9 1.41% Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.5; Windows 98)
    10 1.21% Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; AtHome033)
    11 1.20% Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.0; .NET CLR 1
    12 1.18% Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.01; Windows 98)
    13 0.98% Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98; DigExt; FunWeb
    14 0.98% Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows 98; Q312461)
    15 0.87% Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; BCD2000)

    ...sad but true...all the other non-IE browsers make ~ 22% ...
    Vivvo CMS - Web publishing at your fingertips
    Mile voli disko, a ja belo kolumbijsko

  7. #7
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blufive
    regarding distribution: There's nothing to stop OEMs and ISPs integrating/distributing alternative browser software if they think customers want it (except maybe fear of retribution from Microsoft, even though such behaviour has been ruled illegal, at least in the US)
    There are only two ISP's in the US that require you to use their software and those are MSN and AOL. Both use Internet Explorer. The other large ISP's only distribute software if they are asked for it.

    The fact of the matter is the following:

    Windows = Internet Explorer
    Macintosh = Safari
    Linux = Mozilla

    Those are going to be the predominant browsers for the foreseeable future regardless of third party distribution or what the end-user downloads. Mozilla and Opera are fighting an uphill battle and will be relegated to niche status on those OSes they don't ship with. End-users do not want to download 30-50 megabyte browser suites or mess with settings just to surf the web.

    People will use the browser that comes with their OS. Individual Website results do not matter, browser breakdowns showing Webmaster Sites are seeing more Mozilla traffic doesn't matter. People will use what is installed with the OS for the most part.
    Wayne Luke
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  8. #8
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by W. Luke
    Mozilla and Opera are fighting an uphill battle and will be relegated to niche status on those OSes they don't ship with. End-users do not want to download 30-50 megabyte browser suites or mess with settings just to surf the web.
    30-50 megabytes? Huh? Mozilla for Windows clocks in at only 11.5MB, and Opera without Java support clocks in at about 3.4MB.

  9. #9
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    Check the installed sizes.
    Wayne Luke
    ------------


  10. #10
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    On my PC now:

    Opera: 39.1MB
    Mozilla: 13.2MB
    Firebird: 15.7MB

    I'd have to assume that Firebird is larger than Mozilla only due to the amount of extensions installed and history/cookies, since it's the browser I use most. Can't explain Opera though, although it's my 2nd-most-used browser.

  11. #11
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    Hmm.. The entire Mozilla Suite on my PC is much larger. That is what end-users are going to install because they are going to click "Typical" installation.

    My wife uses Internet Explorer and she gets popups all day long. Every time she gets one she complains about them. I installed Firebird for her, turned off popup blocking and even installed a couple extensions for her. She simply doesn't use it, she uses Internet Explorer everytime. Her response when asked - "Internet Explorer is easier to load". The icons are right next to each in the taskbar and Firebird was marked as the default browser.
    Wayne Luke
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  12. #12
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by W. Luke
    My wife uses Internet Explorer and she gets popups all day long. Every time she gets one she complains about them. I installed Firebird for her, turned off popup blocking and even installed a couple extensions for her. She simply doesn't use it, she uses Internet Explorer everytime. Her response when asked - "Internet Explorer is easier to load". The icons are right next to each in the taskbar and Firebird was marked as the default browser.
    I agree. Same problem with my girlfriend . I agree that it's hard to change people's habits and that's why the Mozilla Foundation and Opera Software have a mountain to overcome. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it would require much more of a marketing effort than they are currently doing, probably moreso than Opera or Mozilla can even afford.

  13. #13
    Ensure you finish what you sta bronze trophy John Colby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by W. Luke
    Her response when asked - "Internet Explorer is easier to load".
    What would happen if you took IE off the taskbar?
    John
    No electrons were harmed during the creation, transmission
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  14. #14
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    She'd probably throw a fit.
    Wayne Luke
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  15. #15
    Ensure you finish what you sta bronze trophy John Colby's Avatar
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    Would she notice if you linked the IE taskbar icon to MozillaFirebird.exe?

    And then said it was the latest security upgrade from Microsoft???

    Wouldn't be an untruth - security by removing the browser from use altogether is security in my book
    John
    No electrons were harmed during the creation, transmission
    or reading of this posting. However, many were excited and
    some may have enjoyed the experience.

  16. #16
    SitePoint Guru bronze trophy blufive's Avatar
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    [epic rant alert!]

    To return briefly to the original post:
    IE 5.5 and below - being repidly eclipsed
    Out in the general market, IE5/5.5 can't be ignored just yet. They still make up about 15-25% of users. There are a LOT of unpatched Win98 machines out there.

    There are only two ISP's in the US that require you to use their software and those are MSN and AOL. Both use Internet Explorer. The other large ISP's only distribute software if they are asked for it.
    Yup. I just said there's nothing to stop ISPs and OEMs from swapping if they want to. Whether they want to is another question.

    (And a tetchy aside, just in passing: US != the World, by a large and growing margin. If you only care about US-based visitors, fair enough, but if you're aiming global, or at a particular non-US country, look at the appropriate numbers)

    Here in the UK, quite a few ISPs give new users a software CD. Users aren't usually required to use the software, but many of them will, because it self installs easily, with no faffing about with IP addresses and the like. Right now, that's almost universally IE/Outlook Express, but if the ISPs decide they can give a better user experience with something else (popup/spam blocking, anyone?) they'd be dumb not to look at alternatives.

    People will use the browser that comes with their OS
    I agree, with one small modification: people will use the browser that comes installed on *their machine*. Right now, that's usually the one with the OS, but it wasn't in the past, and it doesn't have to be in the future. Which is why I mentioned the OEMs. Netscape were badly hurt when MS snatched the OEMs out from under them. If the same were to happen to IE, things could change pretty quickly (yeah, I see the aviating porcines, too )

    Consider: how long would it take the browser market to shift to a point where you would want to change your strategy? and How long would it take to amend all the sites you're responsible for to reflect that new strategy? If you can re-jig all your sites in a week, great. If not...

    Individual Website [stats] do not matter,
    They matter to the author of the site, if the author cares about making their site work for their visitors. For them, the stats that matter are the browsers used by the people who actually visit the site, and the people they *want* to visit the site. The fact that 95% of surfers use IE is largely irrelevant, if 95% of their visitors use WibbleBrowser 2.7 (tm), and their target audience is Linux based.

    That's why I mentioned blogs: from the figures I can see, any blogger deliberately ignoring Gecko-based browsers is a fool, unless they have stats from their own site to back their position (or they hate gecko users, of course, in which case I'll call them worse things than "fool" )

    The reason for defining Firebird and not Mozilla is [Firebird will replace mozilla-the-suite]
    Yup. But that won't happen until 1.6 at the earliest (disregarding nightlies & alpha/beta releases). 1.6 is at least 2 months away. Right now, Firebird makes up about 10-20% of gecko installations, and doesn't seem to be making much headway. Mozilla-the-suite is going to be the most popular gecko browser for a while yet.

    All that said, from a web author's perspective, Firebird 0.7 and Moz 1.5 are pretty much the same. Same parser, same rendering engine, same javascript, same DOM, same network code, and probably a few other things I forgot. If it works in one, it'll work in the other. I see no reason for a web author to CARE which a visitor is using.

    I guess what I'm driving at is: The answer to the question "what browsers should I support on my site" can vary hugely.

    Gecko-based browsers make up about 2-3% of global users, about 6-8% of people visiting web authoring sites, and about 15-25% of people visiting weblogs specialising in US politics/current affairs.

    Who visits your site? Who do you *want* to visit it? Support THEM.

  17. #17
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    That is all good for the current market. The original question asked which browsers will be relevant in the future. Those will be Safari, Internet Explorer and Mozilla.

    p.s. I personally don't care about the global market. I cater to the market of English speaking North America with my personal sites. If I get global users who speak English then great on a content related site. On my commerce site, I can't afford the legal issues and costs associated with marketing outside of the U.S.
    Last edited by Hierophant; Oct 21, 2003 at 16:14.
    Wayne Luke
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  18. #18
    Wanna-be Apple nut silver trophy M. Johansson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by W. Luke
    That is all good for the current market. The original question asked which browsers will be relevant in the future. Those will be Safari, Internet Explorer and Mozilla.
    I completely agree, but I'd like to add Opera to that list. Not as a desktop browser, but as a mobile one. Pretty much every smartphone on the european market uses Symbian (which in turn uses Opera) and I'm convinced that the U.S. will follow suit in a year or two. Pocket IE is the only real competitor, but Windows Phone Edition is lagging very far behind Symbian at the moment.
    Mattias Johansson
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  19. #19
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    I'll agree with that. I doubt Opera will increase marketshare in the desktop market but it will probably do well in the embedded market. Any increase of Opera's marketshare in Desktops will be incidental and created by their embedded market.
    Wayne Luke
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  20. #20
    Wanna-be Apple nut silver trophy M. Johansson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by W. Luke
    I'll agree with that. I doubt Opera will increase marketshare in the desktop market but it will probably do well in the embedded market. Any increase of Opera's marketshare in Desktops will be incidental and created by their embedded market.
    Yeah. Their business model (selling a browser) makes much more sense there. Microsoft doesn't sell IE - it's an OS feature. Apple doesn't sell Safari - it's an OS feature. Mozilla will also be used by Linux vendors as a feature when it reaches average consumers. Symbian also wants this feature for their OS, and it makes sense to buy opera, since it's so darn good.
    Mattias Johansson
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  21. #21
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    Agreed with Mattias and Wayne on the Opera issue. You can already see where they're narrowing their focus (not developing for the Mac anymore, etc.); it's only a matter of time before they really step it up on US mobiles. I can still see them selling a desktop browser in a few years, though it may not be their main focus.
    Quote Originally Posted by M. Johansson
    Mozilla will also be used by Linux vendors as a feature when it reaches average consumers.
    Off Topic:


    What do you think about Mozilla as an application platform? It's only a little more difficult to write an app using Mozilla than building a web site. It's also more cross-platform than .NET and somewhat faster than Java. I think there's a bit of a future in that for Mozilla if they pursued that angle.

  22. #22
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy redemption's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vgarcia
    I agree. Same problem with my girlfriend . I agree that it's hard to change people's habits and that's why the Mozilla Foundation and Opera Software have a mountain to overcome.
    Ooh same problem here to, though she does use it sometimes. Or maybe that's only when I'm around. Habits are hard to kill.

  23. #23
    Robert Wellock silver trophybronze trophy xhtmlcoder's Avatar
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    Well, Explorer won’t count because it will have reinvented itself once again and will make you sign you soul away with a clause where you are not allowed to uninstall it from the OS, Opera might find a small niche and Mozilla will become more mainstream - much the same as today.


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