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BLOG: Internet Explorer workplace dominance is threatened by tablets and smartphones: Forrester

Preston Gralla | April 26, 2013
Internet Explorer remains king of the workplace browsers, but bring your own device (BYOD) practices are threatening that.

Internet Explorer remains king of the workplace browsers, but bring your own device (BYOD) practices are threatening that -- alternate browsers now make up 60% of workplace use, to Internet Explorer's 40%. So says a recent Forrester report, and it's certainly worrying for Microsoft.

The report, "Navigating Diversity In Operating Systems And Browsers," has good news and bad news for Microsoft. The good news, of course, is that Internet Explorer remains the enterprise gold standard, with 40.2% marketshare in the workplace. The bad news is the popularity of competing browsers -- Chrome the second most popular with 27.8% and Mozilla Firefox third with 25.4%. Safari is way down at 1.8%.

Windows 7 reigns as the most popular operating system for company-issued PCs, with 47.5% market share and XP at second place with 38.2%. Mac OS X had 7.2%, and Windows Vista only 3.5%. These numbers don't take into account BYOD devices, because they're only for PCs, and only those that are company-supplied.

Forrester warns in a backhand way that Internet Explorer dominance will likely slip even further in the coming years, because of the increasing popularity of the use of tablets and smartphones. Forrester VP and Infrastructure & Operations analyst J.P. Gownder writes in the report that:

"Today, even when IT departments standardize around a particular browser brand and version, browser diversity is quite common in the enterprise...With BYO and information workers' use of tablets and smartphones on the rise, this era of diversity only stands to grow richer in the near future."

In other words, expect alternative browsers to gain market share at the expense of Internet Explorer.

This is just one more example of why Microsoft badly needs to kickstart its struggling mobile strategy. If Windows Phone and Windows tablets were popular, Microsoft would have an absolute lock on the enterprise. Using Internet Explorer makes it more likely that companies will use other Microsoft technologies.

But if other browsers, driven by mobile, get a foothold, that lock will loosen. Companies will be more likely to consider using Google Apps and Google Docs instead of Microsoft Office, for example.

So if you're wondering why Microsoft keeps pumping money into what may seem a black hole for mobile, it's because mobile is increasingly becoming key to the success of other products and services. And that's why this latest Forrester report won't please Microsoft.


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