Are the Browser Wars Over?
Browser War I
Microsoft was fined for questionable business practices, but IE eventually won because it was better. By 2001, IE6 had a seemingly unassailable 95% market share.
Browser War II
Microsoft had a few competitors:
- Opera. The browser had a passionate following, but few people were willing to pay a $50 license fee when IE and other options were free.
- The Mozilla Suite. The Gecko rendering engine was a ground-up rewrite of the old Netscape HTML parser, but it was stuck in a slow and bloated set of browser, email, newsgroups, editor, IRC client and address book applications.
An experimental Mozilla browser which adopted Gecko was launched as “Phoenix” in September 2002. The application became an immediate hit with developers who had become frustrated with Microsoft’s complacency. Trademark disputes led to the name being changed to “Firebird” and ultimately “Firefox” in February 2004.
Another skirmish ensued and Microsoft was forced back into the browser market. Firefox eventually gained around one third of the market in 2010 but IE held the dominant top spot.
Browser War III
Google released Chrome in 2008. The name was adopted because Google wanted to minimize the chrome (outer interface) of the browser so users could concentrate on page content. Google stated they were reluctant to create their own application, but it quickly became evident their online commercial clout could beat Microsoft — especially when IE had become an in-joke for all that was wrong in the industry.
In 2016, few people would notice the differences between Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari and Opera. They’re all excellent applications with capable rendering engines. The market has matured and stabilized. New features are more infrequent, but users are happy regardless of their choice.