Web developers enthuse about Google’s Chrome. Sad! Like petrol heads asking about ‘torque’. Who cares, as long as the car goes.
What you may not be aware of, is Microsoft’s monopoly in the early 21st century, with their awful web browsers led to an exodus of web developers leaving the industry.
Microsoft Halts Web Innovation
From 2001 and 2008 , roughly 98% of websites were viewed in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. This would be fine, if there weren’t the plethora of bugs in Internet Explorer (v6, v7).
Programmers had to write endless lines of code fixes for the simplest of tasks. Client refused to pay for the increased development time. So, other than for big corporates, it was impossible to earn a living from web design.
By 2003, I’d had my fill of MS bugs. I hated the inaccuracy of code generators like FrontPage or Dreamweaver. I stopped building sites and moved to Adobe’s domain of print. I didn’t return to web design until 2008.
Breaking IE’s Monopoly
In the 1990’s Netscape Navigator was the first commercial browser and Internet Explorer’s only major competitor. Whilst free to individuals, it was paid for by businesses. Microsoft then bundled Internet Explorer in for free with their operating system. Netscape lost the first browser war.
Google Backs Mozilla
Rising from the ashes, Netscape Navigator came back as Mozilla Firefox. To compete his time around, Firefox had to be free like IE. So Mozilla became a non-profit making organisation, but they still needed to generate revenue from somewhere to cover their costs.
That’s where Google stepped in. They offered to pay Firefox every time someone used their search engine via a Firefox browser. Although Google soon launched their own very successful browser Chrome, they still support Firefox to this day. In 2008, Mozilla Firefox took 15% of the browser market from Internet Explorer. Unlike Microsoft, Mozilla’s keen to set standards and embrace innovations, pioneered by minority browser ‘Opera’ over 10 years earlier(see grey box).