Benefits of Alternative Browsers: More Innovation -> Greater Variety
Recently it has become obvious that the success of the Internet Explorer, though a happy thing for Microsoft, meant a huge loss not only for Netscape but also for the web in general. At the height of IE’s success a whopping 95% of all internet users relied on the browser to surf the web. Although the use of a single browser (and platform - Windows) meant no problems with regards to interoperability it lead to huge problems in terms of security and the lack of innovation.
Microsoft, content with the IE’s success sat on its laurels and did very minimal updating of the browser until the alternative browsers started gaining popularity. As always it became clear that competition is good for the customers. As several alternative browsers started gaining prominence (meaning the Opera, Mozilla, etc..) all the other browsers started innovating as well to catch up with the obviously much better browsers. Microsoft realized that it had to do a lot of catching if it wanted to retain a huge chunk of the market share and so had to respond start tweaking with the IE as well.
With the renewed interest in innovation some of my favorite browser features came out including “tab browsing”, which was made famous by Opera, Mozilla, Firefox and Safari, but was actually a product of a small project called NetCaptor. With much competition going on more and more plug-ins are being made available for each browser so that browsers are easier to personalize and to better fit each ones needs. There are even alternative browsers that exist catering to the needs of people with disabilities.
The greater variety brought about by innovation though making users really happy is not the only benefit that innovation brought. Along with more innovation came a big advantage - security, which is what I’ll be discussing on my next post.