In case you have not heard, Microsoft has announced that it plans on killing Internet Explorer in favor of its yet to be named Project Spartan. It appears that Microsoft is finally surrendering to years of complaints both about it being bundled with Windows O/S and the general poor user experience.
Any reader of my blog will know that I am an Apple guy so my go to browser has always been Safari. We all have Macs in our offices and I know that many of our strategists, researchers, and creatives use a variety of browsers from including Safari, Firefox, Chrome, and Opera and I am pretty confident that any of them, which are all available for Windows, are better than Internet Explorer. Being in client’s offices which tend to both use Windows and Internet Explorer, I can tell you that pages load slower and they have far more problems than I do (or at least I believe I do). But people have continued to use it, perhaps in fewer numbers, but they have continued to use it. So what’s the big deal about its demise?
Simply put, killing Internet Explorer represents a chink in the Microsoft armor. In essence it encourages users to look for alternatives – arguably better alternatives than Internet Explorer. Alternatives like Safari, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and all the other browsers out there. And for those dinosaurs who choose to hold on to their IE? Like XP it eventually becomes unsupported, and new formats and standards on the web will pass it by.
Remember, the only reason that IE took off in the first place was because Microsoft made it part of Windows. Its share paled in comparison to Netscape in the early days. It was never because it was better. Now with a more technologically savvy consumer base and a common set of standards that are cross-browser compatible, Microsoft is in danger of losing its remaining user base.
In fairness, Project Spartan, may be better. But even so Microsoft faces an uphill battle in convincing the browsing public that Spartan is better than Internet Explorer and getting them to switch from their IE replacement back to a Microsoft product. I once believed that Microsoft’s brand could do something like that, now I am not so sure.