Browser battle is beefed up. BIG TIME

Michael Arrington says Google launching their Chrome web browser is yet further indication that our favourite search engine is going after Microsoft’s lunch.

If Mr A is right (I wouldn’t ever bet against he with the knowledge) in predicting Google’s strategy then it’s more than ironic that Microsoft themselves had a similar browser project called Chrome! Scoble says Google must have a sense of humour. I’m not sure they’re the ones who need it in order to laugh – Microsoft must be livid. How hardball can you get? Execs all over Redmond must be dusting off their copies of The Art of War.

But Microsoft have at least entered a fighter into this boxing tournament with their latest version of Internet Explorer, IE8.

Reality check: that’s a gross exaggeration. It’s worth remembering that IE has a 73% market share according to Net Applications. Three quarters of users touch websites via Microsoft! Then again, no one believes ‘the cloud’ won’t revolutionise the way operating systems are used/needed/bought. That means ousting not just IE but Microsoft from newly built machines. (And I’ll never forget the Netscape browser had a 90% market share in the 1990s, proving total implosion is always possible.)

Mozilla’s Firefox remains the popular outsider – certainly until Chrome is available for the Mac – with 19% of the market. Its got loads of plug ins that tech users love, is the de facto browser for the discerning user and has just released a new version. Apple’s Safari has a respectable 6%.

Most early adopters seem to be giving Chrome the thumbs up, but can the Google brand pull it off? Will they just be seen as the new Microsoft? Firefox is the poor cousin everyone loves to love. Google don’t have the cards to play it in quite the same way.

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