Software giant Microsoft, fast losing its market share to new entrants like Google’s Chrome, on Thursday launched the latest version of its Web browser, the Internet Explorer — IE8, with features that allow quicker navigation, content search, and a cool display that gives an easily updated view of favourite pages.
Microsoft claims that the browser is also ‘faster’ than rivals. “We were ranked the first across top 25 sites on various indexes,” said Rishi Srivastava, marketing officer, Consumer & Online, Microsoft.
According to California-based NetApplications, Internet Explorer led with a market share of 67.3 per cent at the end of March 2008, but its market share has been steadily declining since April when it dominated with about 75 per cent of the market. Chrome on the other hand, is less than a year old and has already gained about 1 per cent share. Browsers like Apple’s Safari and FireFox are also key contenders.
In IE8, a feature called Web Slices and allows content and website owners to highlight specific areas of their websites to the Internet user without having him go through the entire site. A user can simply add his frequently visited webpages on sites to ‘Favourites’ and refresh the section for updates from the ‘Favourites’ tab itself by clicking on the green coloured ‘Slices’ icon.
However, Web Slices is not a default feature for all sites that one opens via IE8 and so far Microsoft has established partnerships with select publishing houses and social networking sites amongst others for the same. Microsoft officials said that it is not a revenue-sharing partnership but the former is merely a technology enabler.
The ability to push specific content on a site makes ‘Web Slices’ a cool tool for marketers but Microsoft officials said the company does not have a revenue model to the feature.
“We want to make content discoverability easier and at present have no plans to monetise this,” Srivastava said.
The feature also has its limitations — an Internet user for instance cannot choose to add ‘Slices’ of his favourite websites until the website owner enables the feature.
According to Microsoft, 80 per cent of Internet users navigate the Web and 19 out of every 20 users visit the same sites. The Accelerator feature shows up as a blue icon on a webpage and allows users to highlight a text on a page and search for it on Microsoft’s own services like Live Search and Live Maps and even on rivals like Google.