By Ed Bott
The modern browser wars began in earnest in 2004, when Mozilla Firefox challenged Internet Explorer’s complete and utter market dominance, successfully growing from zero to several hundred million users in less than five years.
Google took over in 2008, introducing its Chrome browser, which caught up with Firefox by 2012.
The fighting might have finally ended in 2014.
Over the past decade, a lot has changed: Mobile devices now outnumber traditional PCs, and the desktop browser has become much less important than mobile web clients and apps. Apple’s mobile Safari and Google’s Chrome are now major players, Mozilla is in a time of major transition, and Microsoft is still paying for its past sins with Internet Explorer.
And in 2014, all those players seem to have dug in to well-entrenched positions. Here’s an end-of-year status report for each one.
Google, it turns out, would love to have the dominant market share that Internet Explorer did back in its heyday, without the performance and security nightmares associated with IE.
The company is using a move straight out of the Microsoft playbook from the 1990s, using its dominant free services (Google Search, Gmail, and YouTube, in particular) to push the Chrome browser, and adding capabilities that require Chrome apps, which are designed to create the same type of lock-in that Microsoft’s ActiveX enforced in the early days of the Web, minus the horrible security flaws.