What is the adoption rate of browsers like?
Are new IE releases quickly adopted?
Yes and no. Even though Windows IE 4.x is almost gone, there are still plenty of 5.0 users who haven't moved to 5.5 or 6.0. The new versions haven't offered so much new on the outside, so end users who don't appreciate the internals don't see a reason to upgrade. Even some computer journalists are looking at the surface only and tell people that upgrading isn't worth it.
When one tries a new version of IE on Windows, there is no going back, so those who do try the new versions stick to them. On the other hand, it is also the reason why some people hesitate upgrading.
Many people got NS via a CD from their ISP when they signed up. People also got IE4 or 5 from their ISPs or via their OS. IE6 doesn't work on W95. Many factors involved here. Just look at how good the Linux browsers are doing now that Linux is gaining ground - they're preinstalled, that's why.
IE4 with its buggy CSS is only 1%.
Even Mac IE 4.x has almost vanished from server logs. I guess it has happened because Mac IE 5 has both a very good engine and a very good UI.
NN4 is around 5-10% (anyone got an accurate figure) but NN6 is still only 1%. I can't figure this out. The number of sites that don't cater to NN4 brain-damage is growing fast. Are NN4 users just ignorant?
Here are some potential reasons in addition to ignorance:
- Stuck with Messenger for mail & news; too scared to migrate mail (This problem wouldn't exist if the mail & news app was separate...)
- Netscape 6.x starts up slowly on Classic Mac OS
- Netscape 6.2.1 isn't available for all the *nix platforms for which 4.x is available.
- The user doesn't like the new UI
- The user has a slow computer and little RAM
- The user doesn't want to download a big app over modem
- The user uses whatever the the ISP or OS vendor provided; doesn't upgrade anything
The first one the list is the problem. Migrating mail is significantly bigger a deal than switching a browser-only browser.
Most people know little and care less about browsers. They use whatever came with their computer and will not bother upgrading unless they are either forced to or see some very compelling reason to do so. Since they know/care little about browsers, they are very unlikely to see any reason to upgrade.
For the same reason, there are a huge number of people still using Windows 95. Why ? Because it does what they need. Why should they pay money and go through the hassle of upgrading ? Sure when they buy a new computer it will have a later version of Windows on it, but why bother buying a new machine if the old one works fine ?
Not everyone has hardware capable of running a more modern browser, even if they cared for a long download. Try running Mozilla on a box with 32Mb RAM.
Of course, the average computer user doesn't have the knowledge, inclination to obtain the knowledge, or the understanding that the base Windows installation has most bloated defaults switched on. Even the ISP welcome disk does nothing to optimise Windows for use on older hardware (such as a Pentium 100).
The average Pentium and Pentium MMX, in the average users hands is not good enough to run IE5.5 smoothly.
Jakob Nielsen wrote two articles pertinent to this discussion a couple of years ago, and it's conclusions are still important today:
Though Mr. Nielsen is hardly perfect in his predictions for the future, he does understand the general gist of browser adoption -- it happens at a slow pace, with more and more people getting on the web and differences between browser upgrades becoming less and less pronounced.
People use computers to accomplish various tasks. An upgrade from IE 5.5 to IE 6.0 made absolutely no difference in the way people surf the web. They both render the pages visited in exactly the same way. In retrospect, the upgrade seemed like a waste of time.
If a new browser offers something revolutionary then it will gain wide prominence, even if it doesn't deliever on it's promises (remember the hype over DHTML when the 4.x browsers came out?) Xerox PARC was revolutionary. Apple brought this revolution to the market, and Microsoft brought it to the masses. Mosaic was revolutionary, Netscape was better, and Microsoft once again cashed in at the end.
Revolutionary web browsers are long past. The design of your page should render correctly in the widest number of browsers as possible. We may live in a Microsoft world, but don't design exclusively for IE browsers or 5.0+ browsers. Well, hell, do it if you want to, if you don't mind alienating visitors to your site. Don't get caught up in the next DHTML.
The thesis is, basically, one from economics that says that people don't give up things they have, even for better things, because, well, they already have them.
In economics this theory says that the cost of changing puts people off. So they just keep plugging away. If you argue that there's no cost to change browsers, because they're usually a free download, the counter argument says that cost in this case is measured in disruption, lost time and potential lost data.
So the message is that yes, as browsers proliferate, versions from three years ago kick around alongside the newest, and as the backlog of functional browsers on various machines becomes larger, the rate of adoption slows down.