Well, Google finally “dropped its bomb” as the commentators would have it, with its announcement of an open sourced web powered operating system for netbooks. The question is – will Windows 7 be good enough to maintain the stranglehold that Microsoft has maintained by extending the life of Windows XP (and giving it away virtually for free to netbook manufacturers).
Neowin is reporting that Firefox has jumped a couple of points (with IE dropping a few).
Internet Explorer fell from 62.09% to 59.49%, while Firefox rose from 28.75% to 30.33%
Congratulations to FF and the open source world, but what are the reasons why IE is still at 60%?
Microsoft has achieved a lock in the corporate world by binding the use of IE into its Exchange and Back Office infrastructure. Users accessing Outlook through a non Microsoft browser see a very reduced functionality (there is really no reason for this as all modern browsers support xmlhttp like functionality). Seems like a non-standard proprietary lock-in to me.
Of course one of the main reasons people don’t switch is that they don’t even know what a browser is, as demonstrated by the Google team in New York.
IE has made some improvements to get to version 8, including better CSS 2 support, although much of the functionality seems to have borrowed from the other browsers. Any reasonable analysis indicates that innovation is taking place in Chrome, FF or Opera.
Have we just seen the death of XHTML2? The XHTML 2 Working Group charter will not be renewed after 2009 according to an announcement on the w3c site. Seems likely that parts of this will reemerge inside future parts of HTML5 (or stricter versions where it looks like XHTML) but only if the hackers at Google and Mozilla want to implement it.
The arguments and confusion that occurred during the development process were detailed in a register article, which is interesting because of its claims that proprietary RIA plugin development was causing conflicts. An IBM developer article neatly lays out the different paths that the two standards took. Looking back, it seems obvious that such major changes to the standard were far too dramatic – incremental change looks like the way forward.
An interesting split is occurring inside the group developing the next iteration of HTML. Many of the individual companies working in the group would like audio and video support (in the style of appropriate codecs that would be embedded inside the browser executable). Reaching agreement on which particular formats should be supported is the problem:
The current situation is as follows:
Apple refuses to implement Ogg Theora in Quicktime by default (as used
by Safari), citing lack of hardware support and an uncertain patent
Google has implemented H.264 and Ogg Theora in Chrome, but cannot
provide the H.264 codec license to third-party distributors of
Chromium, and have indicated a belief that Ogg Theora's quality-per-bit
is not yet suitable for the volume handled by YouTube.
Opera refuses to implement H.264, citing the obscene cost of the
relevant patent licenses.
Mozilla refuses to implement H.264, as they would not be able to obtain
a license that covers their downstream distributors.
Microsoft has not commented on their intent to support video at all