Mozilla Takes Aim At Internet Explorer, Which Faces More Challenges Than Ever

by Ostatic Staff - Mar. 15, 2011

As Mozilla's Firefox 4 browser--a major upgrade--gains traction, Mozilla is increasingly taking aim at Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 browser. In the latest salvo, Mozilla's Robert O'Callahan is questioning a number of aspects of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 strategy, including its marketing. O'Callahan has previously questioned Microsoft's claims about "full hardware acceleration," and he has continued to deconstruct Microsoft's strategy in this extensive post. As Google's Chrome 10 browser gets raves, and Mozilla's Firefox 4 draws good reviews as well, things have never looked more questionable for Microsoft's browser.

Interestingly, O'Callahan concedes that Internet Explorer 9 performs faster than Firefox 4 in some benchmark tests. But, he says, "the performance differences are explained by relatively small bugs in Firefox, bugs in IE9, and bugs in the benchmarks, not due to any major architectural issues in Firefox (as Microsoft would have you believe)."

He adds:

"I'm not here to bash IE9, just its marketing. Microsoft's message that IE9 is the apex of what a browser can do with the GPU is nonsense...Microsoft's claim to hardware-accelerate 'the entire Web platform' was always ridiculous because 'the entire Web platform' contains features like HTML parsing, Javascript execution, and DOM manipulation which are simply not suitable to run on today's GPUs, and IE9 does not do so."

Mozilla has a lot riding on Firefox 4. The company has announced that it will pursue a rapid release cycle for Firefox going forward, which is no doubt prompted by the machine-gun releases of Google Chrome that are appearing. Meanwhile, Internet Explorer, which once had more than 80 percent share of the browser market, continues to decline. IE's share of the market is now well below 60 percent, and Firefox and Google Chrome are leading browser innovation.

eWeek and reviewers from numerous other outlets have given Firefox 4 extremely high marks. By the end of this year, look for the most major erosion of Internet Explorer's market share yet, as open source browsers flex their muscles and arrive in new versions in more rapid releases than we've ever seen before.