At the tail end of 2004, the Mozilla Foundation released Firefox. A truly revolutionary browser that showed the beauty of open source, Firefox was focused on end users instead of M$. ActiveX did not run by default, making it far more secure right out of the gate. It also had XUL, the XML User Interface Language for creating new themes and features. It baked in support for open source codecs like Ogg Vorbis and Theora. Firefox still has some problems, like with memory leaks and the open socket exploit that has taken down entire IRC nodes. But that's nothing compared to the bullshit of IE.
In September 2009, Google released its Chrome browser. It's trying to marry the best of open source (adaptability, rapid integration, no bloat or spyware) with the best of Netscape before M$ slaughtered them. It has gained rapid acceptance. It's initial share of the browser environment was 3.69%. After only a year, it is at 11.54%. Some of that came from Firefox, some of that came from IE.
Obviously, the new browser stats are out today. It is official. IE is at 49.8%.
For the first time in ages, IE is below 50% usage.
It's not all open source. Safari and Opera continue to pull in their marks. But the fact is, IE is losing its dominance.
For years, M$ insisted that IE6 was just fine. After Firefox started eroding their share, they released IE7 and IE8. However, each of these were only incremental improvements, making them equal with FF at the time (remember when IE came up with tabbed browsing?). FF continued to adapt and expand. Meanwhile, Chrome brags about how fast it is. As I don't go online under Windows, I have no way to verify this (the Linux and Mac versions, which I could try, I haven't bothered with, as they are usually a version or two behind). Everyone seems sold on it. Then again, people like me fell for "blast processing", too.
M$ is getting IE9 ready for release and is hoping it will reverse their fortunes. After all, when 7 and 8 were released, there was a spike and they reclaimed some market share. They promptly lost it again, but they got some interest. But there's a problem -- 9 is engineered only for Fista and 7, not XP. And XP is currently 60% of the Windows market. And by the time people finally move on, FF and Chrome will have even more marketshare sewn up.
Office is losing out to OOo (and now, LibreOffice). IE is losing to other browsers, both free and proprietary. Linux and Mac have a little of 10% of home computers each. Android and the iPhone are reducing the improvements to Mobile 7 to an afterthought. The iPad and the upcoming Adam tablets will never be overtaken. The Zune continues to lose to the iPod and just basic music players.
M$ will soon have to face what it has denied -- people just don't want their products.