Don't Read This W/ Netscape: Google Chrome Now Most Popular Web Browser, MSIE Second, Firefox Third


Via Business Insider comes news that Google Chrome is the most popular browser on teh Intertubes (with a 32.8 percent market share), followed by Microsoft Explorer (31.9 percent) and then Mozilla Firefox (25 percent, and getting suckier every single day, it seems, at least to me).

As it happens, I finally got around to installing Explorer 9 after years of never looking at the World Wide Web through anything other than Chrome (and occasionally Firefox). I was an Explorer stalwart long after the browser had become a pretty buggy piece of junk, though I had consciously demoted it to a distant second place after Chrome debuted for Windows (what was that, back in late 2008?). I'm not sure why I stuck with Explorer as long as I did or why I ditched it so thoroughly, but who knows why people do the things they do, right?

Back in 2001, Reason published a great story (and a godawful cover!) about how most (if not all) federal antitrust actions are misguided at best and totally irrelevant to consumers at worst—even while they can be costly to companies, which ultimately costs consumers money too. Among the "greatest hits" the authors recounted was the government's attack of Standard Oil back when John D. Rockefeller's market behemoth was selling oil more cheaply than it ever had—and was about to get its ass kicked due to a shift from kerosene to gasoline.

It's hard to remember these days that Microsoft got in trouble for "bundling" its web browser with its operating system back when it released Windows 95. But that move—clearly designed with the customer in mind—was seen as a dangerous restraint of trade that was somehow supposed to make it impossible for other browsers to compete (despite the fact that everyone I knew back then simply used Explorer to download Netscape or whatever they wanted and then went on their way). Dave Kopel and Joe Bast reminded us

A group of Microsoft's competitors—Netscape, Oracle, Sun, and MCI—urged government action so that Microsoft would not "gain control of the Internet," arguing that suppressing Microsoft would "ensure the accessibility and affordability of information technology and the Internet." Netscape's Jim Clark offered a similar warning regarding Microsoft's Web browser, Internet Explorer: "If Microsoft owns the browser as well as the operating system, there will be no Yahoo!, no Infoseek, no Excite, just Bill standing at the gate, pointing out where he wants to go. Microsoft will be the one and only 'portal'." Sun's Scott McNealy fretted: "How are you going to compete if Microsoft won't put you on the Microsoft Shopping Center—which will be the opening screen of everyone's computer?"

What indeed? And who the hell is MCI again? In late 2001, after about three years of trialing, the antitrust case was settled in a pretty grand anticlimax. The settlement allowed Microsoft to keep Explorer on the boot-up screen most users saw. Depending on what sort of Wintel (nostalgia!) machine you bought, you might also have seen a bunch of other preloaded crap that you could fire up or ignore, or even delete.

So here we are, a decade on from the big Microsoft settlement. Does anyone think that the antitrust settlement is the reason why Explorer faded from prominence? Or explains why Netscape is a dim (but happy!) memory to most webheads? Or is that creative destruction that we hear about so much more responsible?

Hat tip on Chrome story: Cathy Reisenwitz

NEXT: DC Capitol Hemp Shutting Down: Obama's War on Drugs to Blame

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I liked Netscape. Then my company switched to IE. Been using it ever since.

    Thanks for all the viruses, interwebs!

    1. Just watch your porn on YouPorn. Only safe way to view Spring Break Anal Destruction vids on your computer.

      1. I can’t watch teh pron – work computer.

        Now, the HOME omputer…

        1. Just act discreetly when unzipping your fly. Hopefully, your coworkers won’t notice the tissues and lotion on your desk.

          1. “I have allergies and a skin condition”

          2. I appreciate your guidance, and look forward to subsequent issues of your newsletter.

      2. I watched that video on a (jail)ed NSA linux process running inside of a OpenBSD Virtual Machine. So I was pretty safe.

  2. I love Chrome…except for the lack of a master password. And don’t tell me anything about LastPass or whatever. I just want a master password so that I can share my computer with my SO and friends without them snooping around and learning my passwords by seeing them in plain text with two clicks. Chrome’s dev team has been a pack of assholes on this subject, and I won’t go back to Chrome until they fix it.

    1. Never used Chrome, but I can’t imagine why the lack of master password causes Chrome to display your passwords in plain text.

  3. Is it just me or is every successive version of Explorer worse than the last? I always liked explorer. But the latest version is well neigh unusable. What geek thought getting rid of the tool bar as a standard setting was a good idea?

    1. This describes pretty much all of Microsoft’s shit.

      “You dorks changed this WHY??” Fuckers.

      1. Word is the worst. I fucking hate the latest version of Word. The old one did everything you needed it to and had been around so long everyone knew how to do most things. Then those fuckers just randomly changed everything for no apparent reason.

        1. 6 was pretty much the last version where you could turn all the shit off and just use it as a e-typewriter. I used my version of 6 as long as I could.

          “You look like you are writing a blog post. Would you like me to autoformat every sentence into a fucking bullet list?”

          1. Does it ever dawn on those assholes that most people work in places that have set formats for things? I don’t know a single person who doesn’t turn all of that shit off or go mad undoing it in their document.

            I really would like to meet the project manager for Word some day just have him explain why I shouldn’t punch him in the mouth.

            1. I’d be willing to bet that Microsoft developers are not designing their software with old folks that can’t deal with change in mind.

              1. I’ve been pissed off about it since Office2007, and I was only 25 at the time. “not able to deal with change” is usually only applied in the context of changes that are sensible, and an improvement over the past, the exact opposite of what MS does with their software.

              2. I’d be willing to bet that Microsoft developers are not designing their software with old folks that can’t deal with change in mind.

                To be fair, the “If it’s more complex, it must be better!” mindset isn’t all that great, either.

                1. I agree that most of their changes are cosmetic and generally useless but it’s not hard to get in there and set options the way you like. Microsoft is in the software business and the best way to make money is to make a cosmetic change to your software then convince everyone they need the new version.

                  1. but it’s not hard to get in there and set options the way you like.

                    Hard, no. But when I have 7 other things on my plate that need to get done, having to change settings does not improve my productivity. Yeah, yeah, how often do I really have to reinstall Word, every year or two? The criticism is more applicable to the daily version+1 from firefox.

                  2. IE is free of charge, so the “making you buy the new version” excuse doesn’t hold water. And you sound like an M$ apologist, blaming the user for their software being nonintuitive and difficult to use.

                    1. Apologist? No, I just don’t get butthurt when a software company changes their own software in an attempt to make more money.

                    2. Also Tulpa, I think douchebags are the only ones still using the cutesy M$ reference for Microsoft. Are you an Apple fanboy or some version of Linux?

    2. I don’t know, but Nick is right about Firefox. It went to shit between versions 5 and 10 (which came out within about 6 months of each other). 11 was a buggy piece of shit. 12 is okay, but still has a giant gaping memory leak. And don’t tell me its the add-ons Mozilla dev team! I run my work version as a pure download from your site.

      That said, I’m not in love with Chrome. Maybe I should go back to Opera…

      1. a giant gaping memory leak

        It certainly uses more memory than previous versions, but a leak continues to grow without you doing anything. My typical Firefox session (6-12 tabs, each with extensive histories) uses around 300-400mb, and stays there. (not counting the additional 300-400mb for netflix’s silverlight plugin)

        1. Leave your browser open for two days. Somehow, even with one tab, you’ll be using 750mb. Its a leak. It never releases memory when it finishes using it, and grabs more when it has plenty allocated. That, to me, is the definition of a memory leak. I have no problem with it grabbing and squatting on 1/4 gig of memory. I don’t want to have reason and gmail open for 3 days at work and find that my machine is paging stuff because firefox sucks at memory management. Why should I have to manually manage this by closing my browser?

          1. Why would you leave your browser open for three days?

            1. My work computer stays up for weeks if not months at a time, and the browsers stay open too. That’s why.

              1. Don’t get mad Epi, I was honestly curious. I just restart my work computer every night before I leave and I leave my home PC off when I’m not using it. I just get little mystified by people who have problems with their computers and it’s almost always the people that shut them down or restart them once a month.

                1. I just get little mystified by people who have problems with their computers and it’s almost always the people that shut them down or restart them once a month.

                  Funny, seems to me that not needing to reboot for that long would indicate a computer without serious problems.

              2. But why does your browser stay open for months at a time?

            2. maybe I don’t have 10-15secs to waste opening my browser everytime I need it. I guess your time just isn’t valuable.

              1. I guess your time just isn’t valuable.

                Well I don’t cry about the five seconds it takes for Firefox to open so I guess not.

                Funny, seems to me that not needing to reboot for that long would indicate a computer without serious problems.

                Seems that way to me too. Why does everyone get so defensive about their computing habits? I didn’t inadvertently call your mother a whore or anything did I?

                1. the value of 10-15secs was a joke. apparently a bad one.

                  and yes, calling my mother a whore is #2 on the List Of Worst Insults.

                  1. Part of what I do is computer support. The place I work is part of a sizable MS domain and updates of all sorts are pushed pretty regularly from off-site. The people I hear complaining most about how shitty their computer is running are the people who restart once every 3-4 weeks. So I always ask, if your computer runs like shit after leaving it on for four weeks why not restart it more often?

                    1. Part of what I do is computer support.

                      There’s your problem. Your experience is totally biased since it’s people who have a problem with their shit that contact you.

                    2. So I always ask, if your computer runs like shit after leaving it on for four weeks why not restart it more often?

                      Judging by the responses you’re getting, it seems to be a matter of pride.

                      Now if you have a web server obviously that better be very rarely rebooted, but a workstation? Come on.

              2. Buy an SSD. It’s one of the cheapest religious experiences you can purchase.

            3. Just like in the old days, every once in a while on MS systems you have to empty the bit bucket and reboot.

              1. you have to empty the bit bucket and reboot

                Soft or Hard? I have a superstition that soft reboots leave uncleared bits in memory.

          2. It usually stays open until I have to reboot, which was 3weeks on one occasion. Same 300-400mb.

            On 8days uptime now, 387mb on firefox. I’ll try to keep it going without closing firefox as long as possible and report back if it increases.

      2. chrome has this thing called the “javascript console” which is indespensable for web developers.

    3. Probably the same geek that thought the same thing for Firefox. Oh wait, you can turn all that garbage back on with a couple clicks.

      I don’t have any problem with IE but I prefer the layout of Firefox a little more. I will never use Chrome, I’d hate to throw more support to Google’s monopoly on the Internet.

      1. Go ahead and use Chrome. Just don’t use Google Chrome. There is a difference.

        1. When I like Firefox just fine I don’t know why I’d bother.

  4. Netscape’s browser became so bloated and slow in the late 90’s that it was laughable (it was also getting more and more difficult to get it to render your layouts properly), and at that time IE was fast and light and rendered better, and so became more prominent. Then IE started to get bloated and slow years ago, and Firefox was nimble and had better features, and became more prominent. Now Firefox has grown bloated and slow and Chrome is faster and has better features, especially its integration with your accounts if you use Gmail/Google+/etc. And Safari has always sucked.

    Sounds like creative destruction to me.

    1. The other downside about Chrome is that it is a freaking memory hog. I am amazed to watch it work when I have the Task Manger up. Chrome uses 3-4 times as much memory as Firefox.

      1. Go look at the individual processes on the CPU tab in the resource monitor; it’s running a process for every tab plus some of its other features. Separate processes means more memory use. Still, I’m not concerned about memory use very much seeing how much memory I have.

        And Firefox will creep way the hell up if you leave it open for days.

        1. I know, but still, I have seen Chrome’s use get about 1500MB, and it isn’t as if I don’t have the memory here, but I like using it at work, and we have shitty machines there.

          Regardless, the damn browser needs a master password.

      2. I don’t guess I notice too much. Since you can buy a dump truck full of memory for $10 these days, probably a lot of people don’t notice.

        Way back in the day, I paid $1,800 for a gig of RAM (no, that’s not a typo). Now, the shipping is more than the memory if all you’re trying to buy is 1 GB.

        1. if all you’re trying to buy is 1gb, you should be buying a new CPU/Mobo combination that works with 4gb sticks…

  5. I use FireFox. Is Chrome better somehow?

  6. I use FireFox. Is Chrome better somehow?

    1. No double posts, for one.

      1. I’m convinced that double-posts are a matter of manual dexterity (or maybe Parkinson’s). My Firefox has never double-posted on me.

        1. Yeah, this double post was my fault. For some twitchy reason I double-clicked the submit button.

        2. It’s a matter of squirrels.

          1. I’m convinced that “squirrels” is just a convenient excuse that can’t be disproved.

    2. In every way.

    3. Yes.

      For one, it has Reasonable which makes reading reason reasonable.

      1. NoScript for Firefox also makes reason much faster.

        1. NoScript makes pretty much everything faster. I’m curious, you guys complaining about memory leaks, do you have NoScript on those machines’ firefox(es?)?

          1. You know, as I think about it, I have a laptop with 64-bit Windows 7 and that is the only place I’ve gotten warnings about Firefox eating memory. My 32-bit machines all have no issues.

            1. also running 64bit win 7.

      2. I’m not sure why, but on my chromium build, the reason website (as of two weeks ago) keeps hyperactively reloading itself. There’s no performance hit or unusability, but a part of me is wondering WTF is going on.

  7. So here we are, a decade on from the big Microsoft settlement. Does anyone think that the antitrust settlement is the reason why Explorer faded from prominence?

    No. These days, if you’re a browser fan-boy, you’re a bit of an anachronism.

    Imagine, walking into a party where there’s a TV on, you look at the brand name (Sony) and sniff, “I only watch TV with Samsung”.

    1. pure brand loyalty is retarded. but I think it’s still ok to prefer one over another if there are actual features that are different.

      Maybe samsungs have better color rendering, or better scaling, or whatever. Same idea for browsers.

      Finally, Snobs are gonna Snob. That will never change.

      1. There are things that I actually want out of a browser. Mouse Gestures for one. I didn’t switch over to Chrome until I found an acceptable substitute for the Firefox’s All-In-One Mouse Gesture. Unfortunately, that particular extension seem to have gone bye-bye and I’ll have to maintain a local installable copy, forever.

        1. I don’t even know what a MouseGesture is…

          1. It’s using the middle button to give the finger.

      2. pure brand loyalty is retarded. but I think it’s still ok to prefer one over another if there are actual features that are different.

        Nothing wrong with brand loyalty at all. But the debate back in the 90s was framed as if ABC/NBC or CBS would be dominated by Sony, because they had the #1 tv.

        People began to realize that the Internet was “The Browser”. The Browser is a tool that allows you to see content. Sure Sony’s picture is bright and sharp, plus the menus are easy to navigate, but another brand might have built in WIFI. Plus, the sheer volume of stuff that now happens on the internet which never even involves a browser is huge. In addition that, there are so many unique devices with built-in browsers, that the internet being “dominated” by a specific browser seems laughable.

        I have a browser on my phone, I have a browser in my PS3, and I now have a browser in my tv. Each lets me look at stuff via HTTP the innertubes. Some are better at it than others. But an entire anti-trust suit over them?

        1. Should be “People began to realize that the internet wasn’t “The Browser”.

        2. People began to realize that the Internet wasn’t “The Browser”.

          And yet there already are mutterings of antitrust over the upcoming Windows on ARM.


    2. I am a fanboy when it comes to ski and outdoor equipment, but with browsers I pretty much keep FF, IE and Chrome updated all the time on my home PC and check them all out every couple of months or every major update, and use the one I like best at the time, which has been Chrome for a good while.

  8. Hey just so you people know, there is a difference between Chrome and Google Chrome.

    1. You got a link to Chrome (sans Google)?

        1. So when you say Chrome but not Google Chrome you don’t mean Chrome at all but are referring to Chromium.

          1. Right. Google chrome is basically just chromium plus google monitoring/tracking software.

  9. My only complaint with Chrome at this point is that it isn’t on all mobile platforms. Mobile browsers almost uniformly suck dog ass.

    1. Use the desktop version of whatever mobile browser you use. Problem solved.

      1. How does that solve anything? I want a better mobile browser, not a shittier desktop browser.

        1. solve anything? I still can’t make sense of the suggestion.

          1. Most mobile browsers, under settings, have a ‘User Agent’ setting which can be set to Desktop, which changes what is loaded when requesting a website. ie when set to mobile, you’ll automatically get directed to instead of

            1. I have a phone that is just a phone, so really I never cared. But sometimes I just can’t stand not-understanding something.

        2. How does the desktop version become shittier? Because of your mobile OS user interface? It’s not my fault you are not running ICS.

          1. I have Chrome on my desktop. I want Chrome on my phone. I don’t have Chrome on my phone. All the mobile browsers I’ve tried I have not liked. How is not having Chrome on my mobile device solved by using a desktop version of the mobile browsers that I do not prefer?

          2. User: doesn’t like browser on mobile device
            Mathematician: Then use the desktop version of the mobile browser.
            Universe: On what, where? 1. Use the desktop verion on the mobile device? Probably can’t be done with an iPhone or an android. 2. Use the desktop version of the mobile browser on the desktop? WTF?

            1. so, I shouldn’t feel bad about not understanding above.

              1. As a career tech person, it’s exactly those kinds of opaque one-liner responses that make me weep for my profession. So no, don’t feel bad.

    2. I have Chrome mobile on my phone. Sucker.

      1. What you running, mofo?

        1. He just means that he’s got chrome… on his phone. It’s shiny. Probably an aftermarket case or something.

          1. Curses!

        2. I have a Galaxy Nexus with Ice Cream Sandwich. Apparently Chrome mobile is only available on ICS for now.

  10. Some people still choose their web browser based on their perception of how “secure” it is. These people don’t understand that none of them are secure.

    1. Set flash plugin to On-Demand in Chromium and then you should be protected from the most common exploits.

      1. Why are you trying to sell Chrome to everyone? I’d be willing to bet that any “fix” you apply to any browsers would only add a couple minutes to the time needed to break them.

        1. Because Chromium is the best browser.

          1. If you say so.

    2. Lynx is pretty secure.

      1. +1

      2. Unfortunately my wifi router doesn’t handle Kermit too well.

  11. What I really want is a browser that will allow me to migrate all my saved passwords.

    I need to reinstall windows so that I can install the latest AcrobatPro (seriously adobe, what part of “uninstall CS3” don’t you understand?), but I’ve been putting it off because I don’t feel like retrieving the 15 different passwords I’ve used on various sites.

  12. That cover is not that bad Nick.

    I like Chrome but sometimes it just acts stupid. Still the best browser out there. IE is a joke. A really bad joke. IE6 is one of the worst pieces of software to have ever been made.

  13. Opera test. Holy crap, this thing has some nice load optimization.

    1. Do you get that annoying “hanging on the last element” issue that has plagued every Opera I’ve tried since around version 9.0?

      Even with a fast Internet connection, pretty much any page I visit in Opera gets stuck on “Elements: 113 / 114” or something similar.

      1. Not seeing that on 11.60. Having used it for all of 1 hr, though, take with a grain of salt.

        1. After doing a little testing on my own, “pretty much any page I visit in Opera” was an exaggeration. I picked a few sites I visit regularly and most loaded normally.

          Buuuuuuuuut, does exactly what I’m talking about. It just sits at “Elements: 121 / 123” for several minutes. That wouldn’t be a big deal, except it also makes the mouse cursor show the spinning ring hourglass indefinitely.

          1. do they have NoScript for Opera? I’d disallow everything, then add everything back one by one. I bet it’s one slow-to-respond script server.

  14. I currently use 3 different browsers: firefox for general surfing, seamonkey which has flash and moonlight enabled, and then the browser supplied with tor.

  15. As a quasi-web developer, I love Chrome. Just right-click and edit web sites in browser on the fly. So fucking awesome.

    1. And don’t tell me about Firebug for Firefox – that’s an add on (although it seems now Firefox has built in its “inspect element” tool). And IE’s Developer Tools were ridiculously useless – the damn thing would open in a new window (rather than a split screen).

    2. Hmm, that is a cool feature. Especially if it actually changes the host website.


      1. Especially if it actually changes the host website.

        Maybe with some modifications. It’d be as simple as giving the inspection tool your site’s master login. or setting up your site to accept remote changes.

        Then again, with the myriad ways of hosting a website, giving the inspection tool access to make changes is probably more trouble than it’s worth.

      2. Yeah, cause it’s sooooo hard to Cmd/Ctrl+A, Cmd/Ctrl+C the stylesheet and FTP it!

        1. If someone gives me the credentials to the Reason Webserver, I’ll do it shortly.

          1. Shorter: the jokes don’t come with a roadmap.

        2. get a gaming keyboard and assign your cutcopypasteetc key combos to the extra keys.

          Relieves a lot of wrist-stress.

          1. I think there’s a mousegesture somewhere in your future.

  16. I’ll just leave this here:

  17. Anybody else notice Google’s and Mozilla’s weird rapid release schedules for their respective browsers over the last year or so? It almost seemed like an obsessive push just to get past version 9 for some odd reason.

    Also, Opera still kicks ass.

    1. Also, Opera still kicks ass.

      All those fat people singing and the fake thunder clapping? No thanks.

  18. Let shit them on up dude, I mean like sure why not.

  19. I like to use chrome for general browsing that I don’t mind the information being tracked with. For looking up sensitive information I use Tor which is administered through a firefox browser. This seems to provide the best package for protecting your tracks on the internet.

  20. Just tried reloading Firefox “one th–”
    and it was up. Maybe a third of a second?

    And if 300 to 400 MB of memory is a problem for you, you need a better computer.

    And most important of all, Firefox can be set up to automatically wipe browser history at all times.

    Now, can someone explain to me why I should spend more than 1 sec. trying out another browser, given all that?

  21. Buy twitter followers Socialkik is the #1 place to buy cheap facebook fans, you can also buy twitter followers, youtube views and subscribers and google +1 votes. Try coupon code: STANDARDKIK for $10 off.

  22. Buy twitter followers Socialkik is the #1 place to buy cheap facebook fans, you can also buy twitter followers, youtube views and subscribers and google +1 votes. Try coupon code: STANDARDKIK for $10 off.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.