Julian Wraith

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Is Firefox the holy grail of web browsers?

Recently I posted about SDL Tridion’s new release, 2009. Now I work for SDL Tridion, so I will not say much about it suffice to say it has lots of new features and a much more “suite feel” than previous releases.

When I posted a screenshot and a link to the new release information I did not expect everyone to fall of their chairs but the comments I did get surprised me. It is true, SDL Tridion 2009 does not support Firefox for its management interface and 2009 is not a product and SDL Tridion is not a vendor that is unique is this; so why the reaction? Is Firefox the holy grail of web browsers?

I thought about this and I thought how I use Firefox. I use Firefox for 90% of my browser usage but of course I have IE 8 or IE 7 (depending on the computer) installed. There are indeed some applications or even websites that just won’t work correctly in one or the other browsers but these days both browsers are about the same with regard to basic functionality. Firefox leads on extensions and this is why I use it most, not because it is not a Microsoft product, but because I need gadgets.
How do I compare with other users?

According to Market Share, 66% of people use IE and this sounds like allot. This says that 66% of people either choose to use IE, are forced to or they don’t know how to change their browser because it came on the operating system. Looking at my own website I see that a coincidental percentage of users are using Firefox. With 66% of users using Firefox I can conclude the visitors to my site are probably more educated in browser types and they are.

So, I am comparable to visitors to my website?  I am educated in browsers and I have a choice so it looks like I am. IE is left to the rest, which is the majority of users (66% to be exact). So what if you work for a corporate giant? Are you in the masses? Even more so…

A bit of Googling will reveal that IE still rules the roost with the corporate giants, IE is easy to deploy, comes with the operating system and everyone will understand it as a result. Maybe Firefox is better but, for instance, it does not have an administration kit, tends to cause issues like security popups and application integration issues that do not affect IE. In short, it is harder to deploy.

Figure suggest that 80% of users in enterprises use IE and that means that applying an 80/20 rule, the browser any enterprise application should support first is IE. Within that 80% I would suspect the majority of users are perfectly happy with their browser and those who are not happy at the educated amongst us who like Firefox. But do we actually _know_ it is better or are we stuck in our ways? Are we just wanting Firefox support for everything because we think we have to? I personally do not think either browser is really that different and searching for the answer brings no conclusions .

So what is it? Is Firefox is king? Is 42 the answer? I just don’t see the need of why all applications should support all flavours, is it not making our lives difficult? I am not saying that I don’t think that applications should not be cross browser, but is it that much of an issue to only remark on that point?
Thoughts and flames are welcome below…

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