It's 1998 all over again, folks! Browser wars are BACK. This time with a vengeance! In the late '90s there were only three browsers to choose from: Internet Explorer, Netscape, and Opera (which was never a big player). The epic struggle between these browsers raged on, the battle fields of shameless promotion into underhandedness and finally ended with legal action. Internet Explorer won the day, but it didn't last.

Now there is Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, Konqueror (for Linux), and Camino (for Mac OSX). And that's just the main players.There are also some derivatives like Flock and Songbird, which are both highly customized versions of Firefox. Even the mobile platform is seeing a share of the browser wars. Opera Mini is now the most popular Windows Mobile web browser for smart phones, trumping the default Internet Explorer.

Previously, Microsoft was able to keep Internet Explorer at the head of the pack
because it was provided as the default browser on Microsoft Windows. Since Windows is the most common desktop operating system by a long shot, most folks just ended up using good ol' Internet Explorer. However, that is changing again.

Thanks to the work of some VERY motivated competition, Internet Explorer faces challenges for the top spot on every platform it supports. At the very least, it is at risk of becoming just one more browser in a wide world of browsers.

So why does this matter? Because now things are going to get better!

Everyone thought it was so great when the first browser war ended... until 3 years later when we realized NOTHING had been done to make web browsers or the internet better. There were no new user focused features and IE's security was lax. Hackers figured out how to exploit it's weaknesses at the users expense (anyone regret downloading those free smilies?). Users demanded better and the Open Source community was quick to answer with Firefox.

Now, because of Firefox and others, all the players are pushing the envelope in security, usability, and good looks. Microsoft has had to start rushing to keep up. Everyone in the market is now pushing to make their browser the best.

That means the user wins.

With the information technology community and a blossoming web development industry screaming for standards compliance and an increasingly educated user base, every browser has to be at the top of its game. Gone are the days where ANY company can rest on it's laurels. Every browser is in a race to add features, increase stability, and enhance the browsing experience.

A side effect of all this is technologies, like HTML and JavaScript, which had remained unchanged for years are being upgraded and given enhancements to meet the demands of today's internet applications. Again, this benefits the user since more and more the internet is where people go to find information, be entertained, and do business.

At lifeBLUE we understand and embrace the need for this innovation. Sure, there is some pain involved, but the rewards are well worth it. The variety of browsers do present some design and development challenges. However, we can do more today than we could five years ago and we will be able to do more a year from now because these technologies are growing. The future looks bright as the web browser continues to evolve and innovate.