I’ve been a Microsoft fan boy for many years. Vista aside for a moment, they do develop industry leading products that run the bulk of home and business machines. In recent years, the company has received a lot of stick for the security issues in previous releases of IE and the wait and poor standard of the Vista operating system. Since Microsoft realised that their bulky software was no longer cutting it and many users where looking elsewhere (think about the rise in the Ubuntu Desktop user base and the rise of Firefox), they do appear to have got their act together. Its important to note that Microsoft still do own a large proportion of the OS market share (approx 90%) but clearly their last operating system dived considering the 2001 released XP is still found on more machines that both Vista and Windows 7. Talking of Windows 7, this is where Microsoft started to get it right. For the home OS, the breakdown according to appletell.com goes like this:
Windows XP – 55.26% (56.72%)
Windows 7 – 22.31% (20.87%)
Windows Vista – 11.66% (12.11%)
Windows 2000 – 0.27% (0.31%)
Windows NT – 0.13% (0.22%)
Windows 7 has now surpassed (nearly doubled) Vista in market share and is looking to be on the increase (stats taken as of Jan 2011, stats in brackets Dec 2010). This is because Windows 7 is a genuinely good operating system and Microsoft’s focus on speed and security for this release have really paid off. All of the Microsoft haters will tell you that MS ‘robbed’ features from other operating systems that already fashioned said features, but at the end of the day, its not important where they came from, a good idea that improves productivity for example is good for any operating system and Windows 7 certainly delivers these. For me, just the ability to snap two windows to either side of the screen for comparison is a major step forward. I have a wide-screen monitor and working on code, whilst referring to some API documentation for example is uber useful.
To the point of this article however. Microsoft this month released their new version of Internet Explorer, IE9. Now, like Windows 7, it’s different but again Microsoft have focused on speed and security with some focus on Windows 7 integration. I have used Chrome for a few years now as I still find Firefox too clunky for my needs, but IE9 has made me switch, almost immediately.
In terms of browser market share, Microsoft does still hold the biggest share, but it was evident that their share was continuing to slip and that Firefox was waiting in the wings to jump in its place. Here are the stats, also from appletell.com for browser market share in Jan 2011:
Microsoft Internet Explorer – 56.00% (57.08%)
Firefox – 22.75% (22.81%)
Chrome – 10.70% (9.98%)
Safari – 6.30% (5.89)
Opera – 2.28% (2.23%)
Opera Mini – 0.89% (0.98%)
Netscape – 0.85% (0.78%)
So why do I like IE9 so much?…
Well, its noticeably faster, the browsing speed and the browser load time is super fast compared to IE8. It has removable tabs that can be docked in the task bar so you can launch web sites like you can windows applications. The UI has been streamlined similar to Chrome so that you have more screen real estate for browsing in. The favourites bar is again like Chrome and very easily accessible. The address bar is now an integrated search bar that allows search engines to be added so that when you have entered your search string, you can double click a search provider and you are there at their rearch results in seconds (I find the youtube search very useful). You can improve performance by viewing and disabling add ons (tells you how much time in seconds you are saving). Security has been further enhanced.
In terms of HTML 5 compatibility, whilst better than IE8 this version still lacking, especially in forms so doesn’t appear as compatible as Chrome just yet.
With Windows 7, .NET 4 and now a super fast browser in IE9 (and let’s face it, the success story that is the Xbox Connect); it seems Microsoft are really listening to users and delivering some pretty solid products of late. To get your hands on IE9 and see if it converts you, go download it here.