Why Internet Explorer is Losing the Browser War (In Pictures)

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One of the first things I do when I review a notebook is to install Google Chrome (or Firefox) so I don't have to use Internet Explorer. It's not that I think IE is necessarily slow or is lacking in features, although the upcoming IE9 is supposed to be all kinds of accelerated. It's all that junk up top. Seriously, look at the screenshot above for The New York Times I took on a brand-new Acer Aspire One. It's  littered with space-hogging toolbars.

I know that Microsoft didn't necessarily insert these pieces of browser crapware; one is probably paid for by McAfee, which supplies a trial of is security suite on the Acer machine. Ironically, a Google Toolbar also takes up a ton of real estate on the notebok I used to capture this screen. Perhaps Acer and other notebook makers believe these things add value, but I can't remember the last time I used a toolbar of any kind.

As you can see below, Chrome is much cleaner, and lets you see a lot more of a webpage at a time.

With IE, you can't even see the main headline on the New York Times page without scrolling down, whereas you can view a lot more content above the fold in Chrome. Several studies have shown that many users don't even look below the top half of a given webpage, so that wasted real estate is not only hurting users, it's hurting content providers.

Don't get me wrong, I like the speed of Google Chrome, and I also find it be quite stable. But I think sheer simplicity is its biggest selling point. Just this week StatsCounter reported that Google’s browser surpassed Apple’s Safari browser in the U.S. (8.9 vs 8.8 share). That same firm says IE still has a commanding market share of 52 percent to 28.5 percent for Firefox. However, IE is down 15 percent over the past two years.

It almost doesn't matter what features Microsoft's includes in IE 9. Unless it forces its partners to kick those crappy toolbars to the curb and takes more control of the user experience, it will continue to hemorrhage share.

Author Bio
Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief on
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  • J Says:

    I have multiple browsers loaded on my computer. I tend to use firefox or chrome and if something doesn't work switch back to IE or use IE tab.

  • JohnP Says:

    Apparently the editor is more irritated with turning off useless toolbars than with websites that DON'T WORK properly on Chrome and Firefox. And there are a LOT of them out there; most notably sites with embedded forms or Ajax-type rich text experiences. Citrix VPN through the browser. And if you your response to that is to say developers are coding their websites correctly I have to respond "I don't care, I just want it to work" and IE8 does.

  • Mark Spoonauer Says:

    good point. JonGl. Safari also has very clean interface. I do find Chrome to be fast, and I think it helps that some notebook vendors are starting to preload the browser...

  • JonGl Says:

    Actually, your article doesn't answer why Chrome is overtaking Safari, based on screen real estate alone... I just had both open on the Windows side of my MSI Wind, and there was no difference between Safari and Chrome, and, in fact, Safari looked much more attractive and useful than Chrome did. Chrome is taking off because Google is pushing it in a major way. But IMO, I can't imagine why _anybody_ would want IE. ;-)


  • J Says:

    I like the "fresh start" Sony offers ... I hope more will do this in the future.

  • J Says:

    I see your small point but really there are much better things to talk about. However having said that I just purchased a HP with a ton of JUNK on it and believe me I blame HP and no one else!

  • BS Says:

    I wasted my time reading this article.

  • Mark Spoonauer Says:

    The user doesn't differentiate between what the manufacturer installs and Microsoft's browser. That's why it's Microsoft's problem. Just as crapware was and is...

  • Tuts Says:

    This is crap. you can always uninstall these toolbars that comes with IE.

  • J Says:

    I agree with Mike. It doesn't even make sense because the IE on the new acer is pre-installed whereas chrome/firefox is a clean install. If you installed IE fresh you wouldn't have as many toolbars. This is really a complaint about the JUNK laptop manufacturers install on new computers. A campaign against this would get more interested viewers.

    My IE looks as good as firefox.

    There are many reasons why people prefer firefox or chrome over IE though which would make an ever so slightly more interesting article - but not by much.

  • Mark Spoonauer Says:

    Thanks for the tip. I'm keenly aware how to disable toolbars. Point is user shouldn't have to deal with crapbars or a browser that favors them as default user experience.

  • Mike Says:

    Simply disabling the IE toolbars you don't want makes the top just about (but not quite) as streamlined as Chrome and takes less time than installing Firefox or Chrome. Gee, you'd think a computer magazine editor could click on the X on the end of the McAfee and Google toolbars!

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