Firefox recently took IE9 and its modern browser claims head on in an article, “Is IE9 a modern browser?”.
Microsoft then retorted with “A Modern Browser”.
The only point the two have proven is eloquence of words. In reality Google’s chrome is the one proving the technical point.
Take for instance that Firefox’s much touted version 4 is still not out. Their adoption rate for new versions is next only to IE. Firefox 3.6 has the majority, but there are still many users for 3.5, 3.0 and a few beta users of 4.0. IE, as every one knows has IE8, IE7 and IE6 all being used in significant numbers. Look at chrome. Chrome 9 and chrome 8. No trace of the lower versions. This will be a very important aspect from a modern browser’s perspective.
Today a developer targeting IE has to cater to too many differences that are there between IE 6, 7 and 8.
The other challenge is that despite all the success of Windows 7, even in U.S., the number of WIN7 users has still not crossed WINXP. Even if IE9 comes out in a few months, it will take at least 2-3 years to become the standard browser when WINXP becomes a minority that no one is really worried about. The current trends for U.S. are less than 1% decrease for WINXP per month over the last 13 months. Currently around 32%, and at this rate, it will not take less than 30-36 months before it comes below 2-3% in U.S. (see http://gs.statcounter.com/#os-US-monthly-201002-201102)
For Firefox, the challenge will remain on how quickly they can bring out the stable version of 4.0 as user patience is very thin these days. Firefox was around 32.8% worldwide 13 months back. Today it is 30.5% worldwide. All the efforts of Firefox are not really leading to an increase in share. They too are taking a step in the right direction, ;-). However, they have a long way to go and prove that they are a better alternative to Chrome. (see http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser-ww-monthly-201002-201102)
From an end-user’s perspective, I would love to use the browser which is the fastest and most memory/processor efficient. At the moment I will still choose to use Chrome although I like both Firefox 4 and IE9.
From a developer’s perspective, I know that there is going to be a 3 way split between IE, Firefox and Chrome/Safari. The one with the least matching features is the one that will stand out like a sore thumb for me because when making browser compliant sites, we will have to choose the least common denominator. No matter what I like, I have to program to IE6 / IE7 levels and I will continue to hate IE for doing that to me till the time I have to continue doing it.