News that Internet Explorer 7 has notched 100 million downloads is being tempered by analysis that the upgrades are simply swap-outs for older versions of IE, and that rival Firefox continues to eat into Microsoft's overall market share.
An InformationWeek story notes that the rapidity of IE7's uptake can largely be attributed to the fact that Microsoft pushed the new browser via its Automatic Updates feature; Mozilla has delayed its plans to do the same for Firefox 2.0. A source from Net Applications also tells InformationWeek that IE6's market share dropped more than IE7 gained -- good news for Firefox.
The debate between IE and Firefox is the main proxy for the whole Microsoft/open source schism, and so is often the channel for almost religious indignation -- mostly on the Mozilla side, we must say. (The current blogsphere frenzy over the obvious PR spin of Redmond's 100 million downloads announcement is a pretty good example.)
We were taken by a newspaper column at The (Charleston) Post and Courier, which suggests typical users might want to run both browsers. As professional Web surfers, we at IT Business Edge certainly use about every browser -- at least the ones that run on Windows. (From a usability standpoint, I personally find IE7's font-smoothing to be the biggest improvement in Web browsing I can recall. I also like the fact that IE7 ripped off the "empty" tab launch mechanism from Opera.)
But for the enterprise, the two most compelling issues remain security and application compatibility. The experts are still debating which browser is actually more secure, but clearly both IE7 and Firefox 2.0 are steps in the right direction.
End-users who love to install browser extensions are always going to be turned on by Firefox's pliability and the community of open source developers who love to whip up nifty, and often very useful, plug-ins. Whether or not such extensibility appeals to your own shop is largely an issue of central control and how sophisticated you believe your users need to be.