Losing the Browser Wars a Second Time

Losing the Browser Wars a Second Time

With Windows 10, Microsoft delivered a much ballyhooed new web browser in hopes of taking back some lost market share due to a mass customer exodus. But, unfortunately it has not panned-out like the company was hoping. Maybe the company should’ve stuck with the original “Spartan” codename over the blasé final outcome: Edge.

Some will tell you that Microsoft’s “release it now, fix it later” mentality for software and hardware is the cause. When Edge released publicly (when Windows 10 was delivered as a finalized offering in July of 2015) the new browser was a mess. Incompatibilities, page freezes, and the lack of plugins, all led to new Windows 10 users either reinstalling Google’s Chrome browser, or migrating it to it for the first time.

According to NetMarketShare Microsoft’s Internet Explorer still leads the pack, but not by much.

If things remain steady, Chrome could finally overtake Internet Explorer for the first time as early as May of this year. Looking at the pie-chart, Edge is nowhere to be found – it’s probably stuck in the “other” or “proprietary” category. Edge was meant to be both Microsoft’s desktop AND mobile savior for the web. But, Microsoft’s mobile standing is even worse, again according to NetMarketShare:

The pie-chart represents users of smartphones and tablets and shows that Microsoft’s efforts are pretty bleak. The world continues to wait for Windows 10 Mobile, and it seems Microsoft keeps moving the release marker further and further away. The only real strategy for mobile it seems, is to ensure that Microsoft’s other apps and services (Office 365, Azure, etc.) work best on platforms not of its own.

Some say that the web browser just isn’t that important anymore – but I don’t agree. Google, for example, needs its web browser to be popular so it can sell other services and can retrieve user data required to keep its ad revenue stable. You can argue all you want, but even the most recent reports show Google’s primary revenue still comes from its User-as-a-Service model.

Many Windows 10 users I talk to are still just waiting – waiting for Edge plugins, waiting for a sign that things will get better. Edge has definitely improved with each new Windows 10 cumulative update. It’s more stable now. But, many of those who have been waiting are close to giving up. And, not really because it’s taking so long, but because they’ve become happy and comfortable with the alternatives.

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that Edge, or any self-developed web browser, isn’t that important to Microsoft, and its clear evidence that something changed between the initial excitement and self-promotion over “Spartan” to now. Internet Explorer will remain an Enterprise favorite for now due to its richer management and control capabilities, but unless Microsoft does something soon, it’s going to lose the web a second time. And, even if the importance of a web browser isn't exactly the same as it was in the Netscape days, it has to sting a little.

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