It was in late 1999 that Internet Explorer finally toppled Netscape, becoming the preferred web browser for over 60% of web surfers. In the five years since then, its market share only grew more, until it had over a 95% share. Five years of dominance may not seem like forever, but in the computer business it’s a lifetime, and on the web it’s an eternity.
How did Microsoft beat Netscape? By building a better browser and giving it away free. Of course, building it into the operating system that’s sold with almost every PC didn’t hurt. Still, back in 1999, IE was faster, more robust and feature rich, and easier to use than its rival. Oh how times have changed.
Today, Internet Explorer is rapidly losing market share to the upstart open-source Firefox project. Firefox has garnered more than 20 million downloads, and IE is down to about a 90% market share. Nothing to sneeze at, to be sure, but it’s not hard to see the downward trend. How is Firefox doing this? Why, by building a better browser and giving it away free, of course. Amazingly, about one third of our readers here at ExtremeTech reach us using Firefox.
The Mozilla Foundation’s new open-source browser isn’t the only game in town, though. There are quite a few quality browsers on the market, and almost all of them out-feature and out-perform Internet Explorer. Today we take a look at the latest versions of five IE alternatives: Avant, Firefox, Maxthon, Netscape, and Opera. Continued…