Microsoft and IE: Getting Desperate?

Microsoft’s latest attempt to get people to use Internet Explorer is a competition, being run by Microsoft Australia, that promises $10,000AUD ($8,000) to the winner. In order to win, you need to “upgrade” your browser from the “old” Firefox and follow clues to find a page that’s only viewable for IE users, ironically harking back to the bad old days when web sites were “optimized” for either IE or Netscape and not accessible to users of the other browser. Is this competition — which is highly unlikely to make anyone switch to IE long-term — a sign of desperation in the face of  diminishing market share for the once-dominant browser vendor?

This Microsoft browser comparison chart made me chuckle. Apparently, IE is superior to both Chrome and Firefox in terms of ease of use, privacy and security, and matches them on speed and standards compliance.

The truth is that even though IE8 is a vastly improved browser over IE7, it’s still lagging behind its competitors in terms of speed, customizability and standards compliance (see my post on Opera 10 for tests on all the major browsers for JavaScript perfomance and standards compliance), and so users continue to switch to the alternatives. In visits to this blog, for example, IE has slipped from 34 percent of visitors to 28 percent over the past year, and that’s despite the release of IE8 in the meantime. Unless Microsoft can release an improved browser, gimmicks like this competition will not get savvy users to switch to an inferior product and its market share will continue to slide.

If you prefer IE, let us know why in the comments.

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