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

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.

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.