面对突如其来的对手，微软嗅到了危险气息。2005年2月15日，比尔盖茨提前了原定配合Longhorn Windows版本的IE 7.0的发布日期，并直接表明原因是IE的市场占有率逐渐被Firefox侵蚀。
2020年，微软结束了对MicrosoftTeams网络应用程序的Internet Explorer 11的支持，并计划今年晚些时候切断它对Microsoft 365服务的访问。并在2021年，正式宣布了IE的“计划”死亡时间。
根据 StatCounter 的最新数据，微软 Edge 浏览器在 2022 年 4 月的市场份额突破了 10% 的大关。虽然目前与Google Chrome 的 66.64%的份额相比仍有很大差距，但随着微软对其不断更新，自然能夺回更多的市场份额。
一方面对手们已经积累了越来越多的优势。 另一方面，移动互联网时代的到来，使得浏览器的竞争从电脑桌面转向手机桌面，PC浏览器的颓势已经不可挽回。 而在移动端，Google和苹果已经占据了绝对的主导地位。Windows Phone的失败意味着微软进入这个市场的道路充满挑战，因此即使Edge继续增长，它也可能在市场上挣扎。
Microsoft China official Mall-Home
At present, the focus of the Internet has already come to the mobile end, APP explosively covered the Internet market, and the value of PC browsers has been significantly impacted. But the problem is that browser-based APP is always difficult to meet the needs of users with a long tail. At this level, PC browsers have unique value that cannot be replaced and still play an important role as a traffic portal.
So you can see that Microsoft, which “gave up” IE, did not give up the browser business, but let IE’s “stand-in” Edge take over the baton. Only in the current situation, in the face of strong competitors such as Google, coupled with the continuous impact of mobile on the PC, the future of Edge is bound to be full of difficulties and challenges.
Lasted nearly 30 years, opened the door to the Internet for people, witnessed the development of the Internet IE, so “take the initiative” to withdraw from the historical stage. However, no matter how the Internet develops in the future, IE is a strong and indispensable stroke in the history of human Internet.
The brilliance of 95% market share
Today’s IE can’t even reach the edge of the market.
According to the international statistics website Statcounter, as of the end of March this year, the top three browsers were Google browser (67.13%), Safari browser (9.75%) and Edge browser (8.81%), while IE browser accounted for less than 2%.
But even the remaining 2% is thanks to the sales strategy of “system-bundled browsers”.
It is hard to imagine that such a browser, which accounts for less than 2% of the market, once monopolized the global market and was an insurmountable gap for countless browsers.
In 1990, based on the world’s first browser WorldWideWeb, American national supercomputing Tencent App Center developed the first widely used browser Mosaic in history. With the resignation of Marc Andreesen, head of the Mosaic project, and the development of Netscape Navigator browser, the curtain of the human Internet era has been officially opened.
[Netscape browser source network]
In a market where there are few competitors, Netscape took only two or three years from birth to monopoly. The browser has always been an important entrance to the Internet, when monopolizing the market was basically equivalent to “controlling” the entire Internet. This situation is not good news for Microsoft, which makes both computer systems and browsers.
As a result, after the failure of active “strategic cooperation”, the first browser war in history began.
In order to effectively compete with Netscape, Bill Gates spent $2 billion to launch IE2.0 quickly through a variety of means on the basis of IE 1.0 released in August 1995. At the same time of the technological improvement, Bill Gates also decided to open IE for free, targeting the paid Netscape browser.
[source of IE1.0: Pacific computer Network]
The decision to be free and open showed the determination of Microsoft and Bill Gates, but in order to win a complete victory, Microsoft hit a heavy blow by bundling the Windows95 system that was born in the same year with IE. When the browser included in the computer system became IE and users “had to” use IE, Microsoft’s situation became clearer and began to quickly erode Netscape’s market share.
In this life-and-death moment, Netscape, which focuses on browser functions, has problems such as stutter and BUG due to too many functions, and is gradually being “disliked” by users.
A godsend, the rising Microsoft struck while the iron was hot, and released the market-startling IE 4.0in October 1997. This browser better complies with the Internet standards proposed by W3C than Netscape, and can provide some functions such as MP3 playback. Since then, on the basis of Microsoft’s huge financial resources, bundled marketing and continuous research and development, IE has won more than 80 per cent of the market.
Even though Netscape sued Microsoft in the name of monopoly in 1998 and won the case, it could not resist Microsoft’s offensive and was acquired by AOL (AOL) for $4.2 billion. At this point, the first browser war in the Internet era ended with Microsoft’s victory.
Monopoly takes the place of monopoly, and the old and new forces will always be exchanged. In the battlefield of the Internet, a trace of laxity may determine the final success or failure.
However, the proud Microsoft carelessly took off its armor after launching IE6.0, known as the “eighth worst technology product ever”, and with a 96 per cent market share in 2003. It even disbanded its browser team at one point, causing IE not to be updated for five years after 2001.
As mentioned earlier, the competition in the Internet era is always going on in constant iterations. Microsoft, which stopped browsing for five years, not only foreshadowed the future decline of IE, but also made room for other competitors to grow.
The heroes rise together and bring forth the new through the old
In the infancy of the Internet, the browser was the most important tool for computers to connect to the Internet. It not only acts as the main entrance of the hardware to the Internet, linking all kinds of data and information, but also connects the direct interaction between countless users and the Internet, carrying the viscosity of the relationship between people and the Internet.
Therefore, under the wheel of history, the browser market is always surging, never calm.
Netscape, which lost the first browser war in 1998, released its browser source code, renamed it Mozilla, rewrote all programs, and released its first version in 2002. In 2004, the Firefox (Firefox) browser based on Mozilla source code made its debut.
With its compactness, efficiency, simplicity, security, open source code and support for extension customization, more and more people are choosing Firefox. Not only did Forbes call Firefox the “Best browser of 2004”, but PC World also listed Firefox as the “Top 100 products of 2005”.
[source: Firefox official Weibo]
Newborn calves are not afraid of tigers, in the “great” situation, Firefox launched a strong attack on IE, the prelude to the second browser war was officially opened.
In the face of sudden competitors, Microsoft smelled danger. On February 15, 2005, Bill Gates advanced the release date of IE 7.0, which was originally scheduled to match the Longhorn Windows version, and directly indicated that the reason was that IE’s market share was gradually eroded by Firefox.
According to statistics, by 2006, IE’s market share has fallen from a peak of 96% to 85.62%, while Firefox’s market share has grown rapidly to 11.23%.
The skinny camel is bigger than a horse, and with the advantages of IE’s huge user base and web standards, Firefox has not subverted IE as IE replaced Netscape, and its market share has hovered between 15 and 20 per cent. Bill Gates later said: “We will launch updated browsers frequently as soon as possible to avoid long nights and lose more market share to other competitors.”
It’s just, one wrong step. For Microsoft, the player in the market is more than just a Firefox, and this second browser war is much more complicated than expected.
Before IE has completely recovered, including Firefox, with the rapid development of the global Internet era, there have been a lot of excellent browser players on the market.
For example, the Norwegian Opera, which is based on the Presto engine, has made a name for itself on mobile devices such as smartphones. For example, Maxthon, which focuses on China, was used by 15% of Baidu users at that time, according to Baidu. For example, Safari, which appeared with the rise of Apple, leads the global mobile browser market.
Together, Microsoft really felt the crisis and began to focus on improving IE browsers. But the reality is that Microsoft can only watch its market share be taken away bit by bit in the face of each erosion with a unique advantage.
Of course, on the PC side, what really pulled IE off the throne is not Firefox, Opera, these players, but the emergence of GoogleChrome.
In 2008, Google officially released its first Chrome Beta version, and placed a download link on the official website. In the breadth of involving more than 100 countries around the world, with its own brand influence, many users around the world have downloaded Chrome.
[source: Chrome browser]
Users soon discovered that Chrome is not only safe and fast, but also supports a variety of new web features and standards, and has a streamlined look. More importantly, chrome is completely open source. For its browser kernel Chromium, everyone can obtain and make all the source code needed for a browser for free. For example, Chromium is used in domestic multi-core browsers such as Chromium, QQ, Sogou, UC and so on.
Compared with Chrome,IE, there are not only security risks and poor compatibility, but also slow card, few functions, poor appearance, and even a large number of jokes about IE appear on the Internet.
Under such a sharp gap, Google’s Chrome market share surpassed IE for the first time in 2012. IE11, launched by Microsoft in 2013, became the last version of IE. By 2015, IE’s market share had fallen below 20%, while Chrome ranked first, with a market share of 52.82%.
The strong rise of GoogleChrome officially declared the end of the second browser war and the end of the era belonging to IE.
Edge who took over the baton.
One idea is that for free tool products, users tend to make choices based on their experience.
Under the subversion of GoogleChrome, the defeat of IE has been irreparable, and Microsoft has finally decided to give up this product that has been battling for many years with its growth.
Microsoft ended support for Internet Explorer 11 for MicrosoftTeams web applications in 2020 and plans to cut off its access to Microsoft services later this year. And in 2021, IE’s “planned” time of death was officially announced.
But it is certain that although the browser itself does not have much commercial value, it is the most basic Internet portal that can direct traffic to various ports. And the vast majority of APP itself is based on the browser kernel. So although Microsoft gave up IE, Microsoft did not give up “browser”.
After abandoning IE, Microsoft developed a new generation of browser Edge. At first, Edge did not completely get rid of the shadow of IE, and the built-in EdgeHTML engine developed by Microsoft itself still has no advantage over Chrome as a whole.
In the face of the lack of beautiful mood in the market, Microsoft finally chose to be “soft”, abandoned its EdgeHTML core and used Chrome, which killed IE. Microsoft officially launched this stable version of Edge browser with Chromium core, referred to as C version Edge, in August 2020.
[source: Edge browser]
After the C version of Edge was born, it has greatly surpassed IE 11 both in performance and function, which directly determines the outcome that IE is completely abandoned.
For Microsoft, whether Chrome-based Edge can play a leading role, or even recreate the glory of IE, there are different voices in the market. Some people are optimistic, others are bearish.
Bulls believe that the growing recognition of Edge browsers by Windows 10 users has not only gained a good reputation among users, but also a growing share.
According to the latest data from StatCounter, Microsoft Edge’s market share broke through the 10% mark in April 2022. Although there is still a big gap compared with Google Chrome’s 66.64% share, as Microsoft keeps updating it, it will naturally be able to regain more market share.
Bears believe that Edge is based on the Chromium kernel and that it is impossible to surpass Chrome.
On the one hand, opponents have accumulated more and more advantages. On the other hand, with the advent of the mobile Internet era, the competition of browsers has shifted from computer desktops to mobile desktops, and the decline of PC browsers has been irreparable. On the mobile side, Google and Apple have occupied a dominant position. Windows Phone’s failure means that Microsoft’s path to entering the market is challenging, so even if Edge continues to grow, it may struggle in the market.
In a word, the browser is an extremely important tool in the Internet era, and its battlefield will last forever. Imperfect technologies will always be innovated and eliminated, and there will always be people who will fall down in the war, but there will always be new hegemons. Microsoft is no exception, and Google will not be an exception.