Whither Internet Explorer?
Enterprise use of Microsoft's Internet Explorer is on the decline. But just how far has the mighty Web browser fallen?
One report, issued last month, suggests that IE could account for less than half of all browsers in use by enterprises within the next year. Park City, Utah-based Janco Associates Inc. last month issued a report saying that IE accounts for just 58 percent of browsers in use by those within enterprises, down from 65 percent a year ago. Firefox meanwhile now accounts for 19 percent, up from 16 percent.
"You're going to continue to see a drop, and I think it will probably level off at 45 percent, said Janco CEO M. Victor Janulaitis, who believes enterprises are shifting more of their desktop users to Firefox and the Google Desktop (the latter is not a browser per se, but he said a number of users cite it as their primary desktop environment).
Whether or not IE will fall that fast will depend on how users react to Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8, which is in beta now and due out shortly. The question this week takes a new twist, with Google's announcement that it is jumping into the fray with its open source browser, called Chrome.
But not everyone sees IE fading so fast. For example, Forrester Research in July found the use of IE in enterprises at a much higher rate -- at 77 percent of all browsers -- with Firefox accounting for nearly 20 percent. Why the disparity?
Forrester analyst Redwan Iqbal said much of it has to do with the respective audiences. "I believe the disparity is because our sample targets large enterprises," Iqbal said in an e-mail. "In our set, Japan and especially China have lower IE adoption than the U.S. China may see IE falling below 50 percent by next year."
Janco says much of its data is pulled on a global basis, notably Asia. Forrester's is concentrated on North America and Europe, explained Forrester analyst Jeffrey Hammond. "I would also expect that our data, which is reflective of our customer set, is more skewed toward larger organizations," Hammond said in an e-mail.
The methodologies also differed. Forrester gathered data from 50,000 users logging into its Web site during the first half of this year -- Janco, a management consulting firm, also used Web analytics at 10 of its subsidiaries and three partners, representing anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 individual logins per day.
Janco's international skew probably explains why Netscape Navigator doesn't show up on Forrester's report, yet it accounts for more than 11 percent of all browsers used as reported in the Janco study. That's especially noteworthy because Time Warner Inc.'s AOL subsidiary discontinued support for it at the beginning of this year.
"They just haven't moved off of it even though there are no updates and support for that product," Janulaitis said. "People in organizations take a long, long time to change."
Jeffrey Schwartz is executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner and an editor-at-large at Redmond magazine, affiliate publications of Government Computer News.