According to analytics vendor StatCounter, FireFox pulled ahead of Internet Explorer in usage statistics for the month of December 2010–at least in Europe–great news for some!

Internet Explorer has been the bane of my existence as a web developer, and I think it’s pretty safe to say other web developers feel the same way.  I can’t count the times I’ve designed a website that works perfectly in every other browser, but not in Internet Explorer. Microsoft just doesn’t seem to interpret W3C standards the way the rest of the browser companies do. It’s not a standards-compliant browser.

FireFox is most likely to display web sites in the manner in which web developers intended them to be seen. Google Chrome does a pretty good job also, but it’s far less stable than FireFox.  I personally find that Chrome crashes constantly.

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So why are people still using Internet Explorer? Probably because they plain just don’t know any better. Since Internet Explorer comes pre-installed as the only browsing option on most new PCs in the United States, that’s what most people use. Given the circumstances, it’s amazing how many people do take the time to download FireFox and use it instead of IE. (That ought to tell you something about the quality of IE, in my opinion.)

Maybe the best reason to switch to FireFox right now is to opt out of the browser war that’s shaping up between Google and IE.  Right now, if you’re using Google Analytics in conjunction with the IE browser, Google throws up a nice little warning message prompting you to switch to their own browser, Chrome. According to Google, IE isn’t a “modern browser.” (Well, okay, it’s not, but it’s clear they’re just taking  aim at market leader IE in order to make way for Chrome.)

Meanwhile, I tried to search Bing via the Chrome browser the other day, and Bing refused to perform the search for me. It told me my browser wasn’t supported. Okay, what? Now that’s just crazy. Chrome is a standards-compliant browser. There’s no reason not to support it unless you’ve got a personal vendetta against Chrome (which I’m sure Microsoft does, as Chrome has been eating into the IE market share lately.) I’ve since noticed that they’ve changed that policy and they are now supporting Bing searches via a Google browser, so somebody over there wised up. Since so many people have switched to Chrome lately, they were probably losing ad revenue.

However, they do still throw up error messages if you’re trying to access their local listing center via Chrome. As of this writing, here’s what the message says: “This browser is not supported. We recommend using Internet Explorer (version 6.0 or higher) or Firefox (version 2.0 or higher).”  Okay people, do NOT use IE six. Virtually no web site displays properly on IE s6. If you’re using that, you are screwed for browsing the web.

Meanwhile, if you’re using FireFox, you can use Google services and Bing services with no problems. No pop up error messages. FireFox is like Switzerland. You get to stay out of the corporate vendettas and go on about your business. Whew! How great is that?

I say, if you’re not already using FireFox, download it now. (Please note that neither I nor Vergent are affiliated with FireFox, and the opinions I’ve expressed in this blog post are not necessarily the opinions of Vergent Communications.)

What do you think? Which browser do you prefer and why?