Last Friday Microsoft meet around 20 Web developers, blogger and community experts at a community roundtable for Internet Explorer 8 in Berlin. The main focus was on how private/business consumers as well as Web developers are using (or want to use) Internet Explorer 8. An analyst from Techconsult explained the current situation in German browser market:
Private Consumers (Home Users)
It was very interesting that in Germany private Web users are using more and more Firefox instead of Internet Explorer. Techconsult offered some more statistics that young users (< 20 years) are using Firefox more than i.e. older people (starting at 50 years). Another survey result was that female Web users are using Internet Explorer more than male users.
Why are private (and primarily young) Web users preferring Firefox? What does Firefox have what Internet Explorer cannot have?
If we have a look at current mobile phone market we can see something similar. Young people save all their money to get one of the iPhones. It is really cool to have one! You can listen to your music, you can view videos, surf the Web, well, what else can you do? (Ah, I forgot: young people love to download ring-tones. If your mobile phone cannot download (free) ring-tones it is odd.)
Business Consumer (or is it IT-Administrators?)
Well, installing Firefox in a big IT infrastructure costs really money. Internet Explorer is configurable using domain group policies which makes it easy to manage by administrators. What about updating Firefox? Yes, there is an menu option to check for new updates, but how does this work in a Microsoft environment with Active Directory? Until Firefox is not business ready (I mean that we can install it with AD and setup configuration with group policies) Firefox is not an Windows Web browser for the business.
Do you have any answer why (young) people prefer Firefox?
To come back to the main question how can we bring young people to Internet Explorer? There are a lot of possible answers, and I try to give some here. But first I’d like to remove the young keyword from the question.
My mother in love last time asked me if I could have a look at her laptop (you must have in mind that today all family members should have their own laptop). She noticed that her laptop slowed down the last months. Well, the end of the story was that I had to remove thousands of IM clients and other tools that are “necessary”. Her friends often tell her: you have to install this or I’m using this and I’m happy, IE is unstable and insecure. Well, home users are happy if they are able to install software at their own – no administrator, no group policies. The conclusion of this story is that it does not belong only to young people. Being an administrator gives you power over your laptop/PC.
- Firefox is fully customizable, you can change the look&feel. Do we really need this to browse the Web? Have you installed the latest Firefox version to be sure you have all bugs fixed?
- Add-ons or plug-ins are great, Firefox has a large gallery with more or less interesting tools to expand the features of Firefox. Is it the easy of develop a plug-in compared to Internet Explorer? Why did nearly nobody develop plug-ins for Internet Explorer? I hate plug-ins as they are more often losing memory are slow down browsing performance.
Internet Explorer 8 Home and Internet Explorer 8 Ultimate
(or my Conclusion of the IE 8 community roundtable)
What about this idea: Internet Explorer 8 comes in two editions, the Home and Ultimate Edition. Both Web browsers are using the identical render engine to display HTML. The Home edition comes with features like accelerators (maybe already some installed), Web slices support,… The host of the render engine (this will be iexplore.exe) is 100% open source at codeplex.com. It could be customized and modified in any ways, starting at plug-in support or look&feel as well as the complete UI. How cool would it be to have a Internet Explorer engine that can use Firefox plug-ins?
The Internet Explorer 8 Ultimate Edition comes nearly naked. A robust application will host the IE render engine, starts in milliseconds. Of course, both editions know XMLHttpRequest (or ActiveX support), AutoComplete, all the security settings… You are able to run a Web site in both applications as the render engine is the same, only the UI is different.
What do you think about having two editions of Internet Explorer 8 and a fast and robust render engine?