Google's Chrome browser is now expected to surge past Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) browser in the workplace by the end of the year. In fact, the research firm expects two-thirds of workplace users will rely on Chrome as their main browser by sometime in 2016.
The shift represents a stunning turnaround for IE, which like the Windows OS, has long dominated in the corporate world. (Companies using Windows often set up systems and apps that required IE, making it difficult -- until now -- for rival browsers to supplant it.)
Even as Microsoft tries to fight back by including its more modern Edge browser in Windows 10, that won't help the developer in the short term because companies aren't likely to embrace the new OS quickly. Enterprise adoption of Windows 10 isn't expected to pick up until 2017. In the meantime, Chrome's surge will continue.
Gartner analyst Michael Silver said that many companies have been forced to rely on IE8 because of Microsoft's support dictates for browsers. Those restrictions, in effect, pushed companies to seek alternatives, leading them to Chrome.
Here's how the browser wars are expected to unfold over the next year or so:
- By the end of 2015, Google will be the No. 1 primary browser in corporations, edging ahead of IE by a few percentage points. In 2016, the gap will widen: Gartner expects Chrome's enterprise usage to hit 65%, while IE's will slide to 28%.
- Microsoft hopes to fight back with Edge, which will be offered in tandem with IE11 in Windows 10. Offering both allows companies that need a legacy browser to stick with IE11, while those who want something more modern can move to Edge. The hitch: Since Windows 10 adoption by companies will be sluggish at first, Chrome can cement its top-dog status.
- Companies that move to Windows 10 -- but still find themselves stuck on IE11 for business reasons -- are expected to opt for Microsoft's "long-term servicing branch" track for OS updates. That lets them get security and critical updates without the feature changes Microsoft will offer more frequently to other Windows users.
Silver expects the multi-browser issue and update track confusion 10 to get "messy" for many companies, and said that even with Edge, Microsoft has a fight on its hands for browser supremacy.
With reports by Gregg Keizer from Computerworld.