It's easy to pile on Microsoft for a lot of things, but the latest data point that made me scratch my head is as follows:
Firefox 3 is expected to beat Internet Explorer 8 to market by as much as a year.
A year. I was reminded of this stat by this Computerworld piece that also notes that IE7 adoption has flattened out -- no big surprise -- and that Firefox is now estimated to be running at a little better than 15 percent market share.
Fifteen percent is huge, particularly when you consider that the numbers for the Mac browser Safari are just about in lockstep with the Mac OS's market penetration, and Opera (which most hard-line techies will tell you is still the best browser) is used by less than 1 percent of Web surfers.
So, Mozilla is taking this market share straight out of Microsoft's pocket. This at a time when Redmond clearly covets a future in the online advertising space dominated by Google. Guess how Mozilla pays its bills? By setting Google as its default home page.
Wasn't the DOJ ruling largely about decoupling IE from Windows? But faced with serious erosion of a key market position -- think of all the hype desktop Linux gets, and nobody runs that, statistically speaking -- Microsoft's dev cycle is going Vista again and letting its one serious competitor beat it to market by about a year? Think of the default setting and embedded toolbar opportunities that are lost with every install of Firefox.
I'd imagine that would make Redmond crazy -- at least crazy enough to bullet-train this dev effort. Microsoft wants to buy online ad agencies, and is complaining about anti-trust implications when Google beats it to the punch, but it is moving this slowly in fighting off one of Google's key partners that is gnawing at a key Microsoft product.