That is what ZDNet’s Ed Bott is predicting. He’s right of course, but for all the wrong reasons.
He speaks of the release schedules, and how the time table of Firefox will be its downfall. Perhaps the schedule has been slow, but the company has already committed to making the schedule shrink into a 4 month frame that it will keep to, from that point forward.
The claim is made that Google is making major strides, and of course, we must acknowledge that, but the increments are self-described for the most part, as the changes from version 1 to version 10 with Chrome were actually less difficult for the programmers at Google than from Internet Explorer 1 to Internet Explorer 9, because Microsoft was “making up” new features, and, though the look and feel was different, Google was copying the working feature set, so as to reach parity of capability.
This paints Microsoft in the position of innovator, but Microsoft is not an innovator – every iota of their browser is copied from another, save for the blue “e” in the corner of the screen.
Changes in the Internet Explorer browser were always appropriated from other browsers. Version 1 was repackaged Mosaic, and from there, the browser was appropriating features from Netscape, which was Marc Andreessen’s baby, which many flocked to because its features were more complete from the start, or because the general public had an ardent distrust and dislike of the movements of Microsoft at the time.
The changes that did not come from Netscape, came from another upstart, Opera, which has produced most of the innovation in browsers in the past 15 years. Between the nicks from Netscape and Opera, Internet Explorer had a steady stream of slow improvements to add – and it did.
Still, the low popularity of Opera, and the capital problems of Netscape led to the rise of Firefox, which was a wonderful thing, as IE6 was stagnant, doing nothing to evade the growing problems of the time brought by the hacking community.
Firefox was something that, being free from the start, people grabbed onto like a lifeboat in a storm. It began providing better security, a choice of look and feel, and general happiness for its users. It was bound to be a hit.
It also had the blessing of Google, which helped tremendously with all aspects of the browser’s push into the market space once occupied by Internet Explorer.
Bott speaks of the post-PC world, which is something that may never come, and certainly is not here just yet, forgetting that the fortunes of Microsoft still lie with PCs, and any efforts toward forward thinking markets are slow in coming from Redmond.
The problem for Mozilla will be one of funding, and, if Microsoft outlasts them, it will be because they have other monetary streams, and Mr. Ballmer does not seem to know how to stop when he is ahead on anything. Microsoft should not have gotten into search, but spends to the roof on Bing; Microsoft should not have released a new browser, leaving IE8 to die a natural death, so that it could improve the products it does well with; and Microsoft, though it has most very recently been vindicated monetarily on Xbox, with the Kinect, by all measures should not have gotten into gaming at the outset (How many fortunes have been lost on warranty performance for Red Rings of Death?)
Google, the other pillar of browsing, was watching closely when Mozilla was starting, and noting all that was happening. It decided to begin its own effort when Mozilla started to fumble.
And there it is, the real reason that Mozilla is not number one is that someone made someone at Google unhappy, either directly or indirectly with inaction, and caused a loss of support, monetary and otherwise, and the beginnings of Chrome.
So if we ever say a farewell to Firefox or Thunderbird, it will be because of that problem between Mozilla and Google, and Microsoft will profit from it, though having very little to do with it – as they have had very little to do with much of browser development since internet browsers became a thought for discussion.
Also, as long as Mr. Ballmer is at the helm in Redmond, Internet Explorer will survive, though there may be no one outside the Microsoft campus using it.