This morning I was notified of an article about the download rate of IE9 by Ryan Gavin, Senior Director, Internet Explorer Business and Marketing. I had to check the date to see that it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke; alas, it wasn’t, so here’s my reply.
Let me start by saying that I’m happy to know and talk on a regular basis to a number of people at Microsoft. I appreciate the constructive discussions, and the open-minded takes on challenges, opportunities and what all web browser vendors can do to improve the web. And IE9 is much better than its predecessors, and a move in the right direction.
With that said, it really saddens me with such a statement from Ryan, and there are three things I’d like to address:
“Windows Update hasn’t pushed IE9 yet”
Ryan claims that since Microsoft hasn’t pushed IE9 through automatic updates via Windows Update yet, the download rate has been lower that it otherwise would have been. While I’m sure this is true, I would not really use the argument “as soon as we force IE9 on all Windows users, it will be all good”. People wouldn’t upgrade because they even want IE9, they would do out of security fears that their operating system would otherwise be insecure.
I wholeheartedly believe that a web browser should not be a part of the operating system, and have such strong ties (that goes for you too Apple, with Safari).
“Mozilla has turned on update notification for Firefox 4”
This is simply not true. It will be done in the future, but right now the reason behind the massive download success of Firefox 4 is that people choose to download it and install it.
“Our IE9 download numbers should be tripled for a fair comparison”
By far, the most annoying, and completely thoughtless statement, is that we should only compare download numbers for Windows Vista and Windows 7. Since Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome are available on all major operating systems (iOS excluded), it’s “just not fair”.
Here’s the thing: if you produce a product for accessing the web, the most democratic medium we have in the world, naturally you would want the end users to be able to use any operating system or device of their choice to do that. Microsoft chose to not support any other operating system – and that includes not even your own Windows XP, the most popular operating system in the world (54 % market share)!
To add to that, all other web browser vendors support Windows XP, and Microsoft, if you truly believe HTML5 is the future, how come initiatives like HTML5 for XP are needed?
You made the choice – you face the consequences.
What the statement should have been like
This is how Ryan’s statement should actually have read:
We at Microsoft are happy to see the adoption rate of Firefox and Google Chrome. We welcome the competition and collaboration in making the web a better place, and it will challenge us to keep on improving Internet Explorer.
We also believe it’s in the best interest of all end users to have a lot of good options, and people upgrading their web browser to a new version is something everyone will gain from.