Bill Gates On Firefox vs. IE

Bill Gates has some interesting things to say about Firefox vs. Internet Explorer in this CNET interview. Responding to a question about Firefox taking away market share from IE, Gates says,

Well, people get confused about browsers. You can have as many browsers as you want on your PC, just like you can have tons of music players and things like that.
As RSS has gotten more sophisticated and value-added search capabilities have come along, this thing is really maturing.

So when people say Firefox is being downloaded onto people’s systems, that’s true, but IE is also on those systems. Firefox is new, and people are trying it out. There’s a certain percentage of people who do that–it’s very easy to download.

Yes, of course IE is on the system and a number of non-browsing applications use IE so you don’t want to necessarily delete it completely. But Gates is ignoring the point that people are adding Firefox to systems that already have IE in order to avoid using IE. The other day I had to help a non-geek client with a machine used for presentation purposes. The first question he asked was whether or not we had a non-IE browser available, because he hated using IE.

Similarly I’ve been helping a friend re-install the software on her PC which is always bloated with ActiveX spyware. They’re getting Firefox as their main browser as well. No, it doesn’t eliminate security threats, but it certainly drastically reduces the scale of what end users have to worry about.

Gates continues,

We need to keep IE the best. We need to innovate in IE, do more add-ons, do improvements. We have some very exciting plans there. Some percentage of users are going to try Firefox and IE side by side, and use the one that’s best.

In this case, Microsoft is in Netscape’s place. It has had a dominant market share for so long that it appeared to simply throw up its hand and declare “its finished — we don’t need to make any more changes.” And Firefox has really come along and showed users they don’t need to stick with Microsoft’s crappy browser for everday web browsing.

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