In the Beginning
There was a time when the only two serious players in the Web browser game were Netscape and Microsoft's Internet Explorer. As the months and years passed, Netscape began to fade and IE took over a lion's share of the market. The reasons for its early dominance vary, depending on who you ask, but if you speak to the many Microsoft detractors out there you will probably hear the word monopoly at least once. Nevertheless, the fact remained that IE was king with the majority of the online public associating the "blue E" with the Internet.
Although Internet Explorer was the top dog, it was riddled with problems ranging from a multitude of rendering issues to serious security holes. There were complaints aplenty from the browsing public, as well as from the Web development community. Unfortunately, action to address them was too slow for the taste of many. The dissatisfied ranks clamored for major improvements or at least some decent alternatives.
The New Browser Wars
Eventually change began to take place, as serious competitors to IE such as Firefox and Opera started to develop their own respective fan bases. These new browsers were a breath of fresh air for many, boasting faster speeds and functionality never before seen. Then, in the not so distant past, more quality alternatives like Safari and Google Chrome hit the virtual shelves. An all-out Web browser revolution was underway. In the midst of it all, Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7 showed significant improvements upon the company's previous offerings and they actually began to win back some users that had strayed from the flock during the lean years of IE 5 and 6. Today the average user has an impressive sampling to choose from, with each browser claiming its own unique benefits.
Learn From Your Mistakes
Even with all of this new-found competition, IE still holds on to the top spot when it comes to market share. Obviously, its integration with the Windows operating system plays a large part here. However, I have to give credit where credit is due and the long-maligned Microsoft browser has grown into a pretty good application. The good news for IE fans and naysayers alike is that it looks like the best is yet to come.
The Future of IE
Internet Explorer 8, currently in beta and due out in early '09, is Microsoft's most robust browser yet. With advanced security features, smarter search, private browsing, WebSlices, and much more, IE8 appears to be the real deal. Compliance with Web standards and providing betters tools for developers, both negatives against IE in the past, are two other issues being addressed in the new version. There has not been this much excitement about a Microsoft browser in many years. Congratulations to IE8 - the Best Beta Browser of 2008.