Butch Lugrod’s Manopia

All Things to All Men

Archive for March 2009

Browser Wars – Year 17

leave a comment »

It might not seem like it, but the browser wars are back. Internet Explorer versus Firefox versus Safari versus Chrome versus Opera versus a bunch of mobile browsers. It is the same war that was waged in the mid-nineties between IE and Netscape, just with more players. CNET has a new article up detailing the new browser battle over Javascript performance. I think that this is an even bigger deal than most people believe, with consequences that could rattle some of our very biggest software developers.

Javascript is the tool that gives our web pages lightweight interactivity and advanced features. It is fast and feature-ful enough to replace native desktop application development for a lot of purposes. Anymore, I live most of my day inside of a browser. With the exception of our corporate email server (Exchange/Outlook) most of the tools I use at work are web-based (and even Exchange has a pretty fantastic web client these days.) For my livelihood, it matters less and less what type of computer I am using and more and more about which browser I have open. Anything which can improve the performance of that browser, especially with regard to Javascript/AJAX performance, improves my life considerably.

The latest versions of Safari and Chrome are absolutely fantastic — very speedy. I look forward to testing the new version of Firefox when it is ready. I still have to use Internet Explorer for compatibility with a few web sites, but the number of sites which that applies to are dwindling each year that Microsoft stagnates development. IE 8 is not a leap forward in standards support or Javascript performance.

Microsoft has the resources to be competitive in this arena, and they have to realize that their market share is dwindling as their competitors surpass them in these areas. Microsoft has the most to lose by not being an innovator in desktop browsers, because it is their operating system which is going to be lose market share. If most of your work can be done in a browser, do you really want to spend $200 for a Windows upgrade and another $400 for a new version of Office? What if you could do all of your work on a $200 barebones notebook with an internet connection?

Now, clearly, Microsoft is moving (slowly) toward the online cloud world. Last year they announced the web version of Office. But will this development stagnate as well? There are already a number of (free!) competitors in this space, and MS has been content to stand by and watch them establish mindshare.

The game is changing and Microsoft needs to change with it.


Written by Butch

March 20, 2009 at 10:35 am

Posted in tech

Tagged with , , ,