Browser Wars, part Trois

UPDATED Thu Mar 27 11:49:54 EDT 2008

Seriously man, the browser wars are getting nice and intense, just the way I like’em. Even back in the day when Microsoft was putting the kibosh on Netscape it wasn’t like this – here we’ve got 4 significant browsers all dueling to the death. Sitting on the throne is IE8, although that throne is getting smaller as time goes on, then you have Firefox3 coming in second. And bringing up the rear you’ve got Safari which has a big iPhone fueled tailwind and Opera who’s still hanging in there.

It’s enlightening to watch how the browsers roll. Just yesterday the bottom two hit 100% on the Acid3 test. I think Safari did it first and then Opera – although Safari’s is available in the nightly webkit and opera’s is a private build. This is fantastic news – mad props to both teams for making this happen so quickly.

I hope that pushes the Firefox guys to go for the gusto. I certainly appreciate the work they’ve been doing with the memory issues and during my electropocalpyse I was using FF3 beta 4 as my primary browser and it was quite nice. But Acid3 is the future and I would not mind the future being now, see? Acid3 will be the future when the majority of browsers support it and FF needs to be a part of that, I don’t think that Safari and Opera alone will force IE8 to hurry up with their implementation. I hope not, but suspect it’s true, that Firefox isn’t due to hit 100% until well after the release of FF3 as this comment suggests. Sigh.

Microsoft, of course, hasn’t even mentioned Acid3 – they’re happy enough finally getting Acid2 compliance (FF3, Safari and Opera all have this already). I suspect that if Firefox can magically roll up to the 90’s or 100% Microsoft would be shamed into cramming more support into IE8, but if FF remains in the non-marketable 70’s Redmond will just carry on bringing the pain to web developers across the globe.

I guess in this case it’s trickle up theory as the lower market share browsers push the higher ones on to greater things or face stiffer competition. With FF and Safari auto-upgrading, real standards compliance makes a difference to web developers since it allows the installed userbase to quickly hit 80-90% saturation with the new version. It remains to be seen if IE6 and IE7 remain on the radar, removed from the browser rosters only by attrition as people replace their boxes with newer ones. It seems crazy to me that they with their windows updater do not update the browser. Nevertheless, this is all encouraging news and hopefully one day we won’t have to figure out special cases for every browser ever made.

UPDATE: Interesting – check out Mozilla’s stance on Acid3 which is, more or less, Acid3 is an OK test but there are better ways to achieve compliance than focusing only on what it tests. Ian gives his perspective on that. Some people suspect it’s a sour grapes thing, I’m more inclined to give the benefit of the doubt… FF3 seems pretty great to me so far. (via hodson’s friendfeed)

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