Some time ago, Internet Explorer (IE for short) won over Netscape Navigator. As result there was quite interesting situation: there were quite few areas were IE did not respect standards at all or did not respect them completely. And when new browsers (Firefox and Opera) tried to gain some popularity, they immediately did hit hard concrete wall with their head: web sites do not work properly in new browsers. This happened mainly because other browsers actually did try to follow standards, but most web sites were designed for Internet Explorer that does not respect standards.
During that phase, most web site designers said pretty much that: “everybody uses IE, why should I care about browser that has 1%-2% of marker share”. And there were kind of right, after all everybody has IE (even Mac and if I remember correctly IE was even for Unix). And they had valid point, what point in standards if 99% of browsers on the market do not follow them. Maybe IE should be standard?
And as side note, this could be one of the reasons of many attempts to sue Microsoft and attempts to split them to few smaller companies. Everybody is saying that Microsoft had monopoly on browser’s market and that hurts competition etc. And perhaps because of that Microsoft did not try that hard to win browser’s war.
As result this whole situation looks like chicken and egg, web designers did not test in new browsers because they are not popular. Browsers are not popular, because web designers did not test new browsers. I believe this paradoxical situation was resolved because new browsers had a lot of quite useful tools (for example Firebug for Firefox) that helps web designers a lot in developing web sites. That was time when web sites became more and more complex and such tools were quite helpful. As result situation was eventually resolved and web designers started taking other browsers into the picture because developing web sites was much easier in them. Also, internet and web standards were still in development and all new features were checked in all browsers to make them work correctly. Even Microsoft did fix most of problems in IE.
After few years most web sites work more or less fine in Firefox and to certain degree in Opera. But still a lot of sites did not work properly in any of these browsers and it took about 10 years for 99.9% of web sites to work properly everywhere. At the end of that period everybody developing sites in Firefox (and Chrome) and then check if it works in IE. And if site didn’t work in IE, usually it was not big deal.
Chrome was born when standard pretty much won, and IE was considered outdated by many designers. So, it was way easier for Chrome, because it did not need to fight battle of standards against IE. Most web sites work just fine. Then Google, using not so nice methods, ensures that Chromium based browsers are installed on every PC. And sadly, it not happened because Chromium is that good. It is actually bad in many areas. Anyway, this is story for another day.
And by now, Chrome that takes IE’s place. More and more sites simply do not work in Firefox, because designer does not care. They have only Chrome and they check only in Chrome. And even they checked, and site does not work, it is not a big deal. And not only Firefox, but Safari is also taking hit, even Chromium project was born from the same project as Safari, over time it has own differences. And that kind of bad for Mac’s that only started getting popularity.
I personally did not like when IE had over 90% of browsers and I do not like it now when Chromium based projects have around 90% of browser’s market. Competition is always great, and I prefer to have at minimum 2-3 popular browsers. But sadly, Firefox developers lost initiative. Their engine called Gecko that was used to embed browser in any application, was more and more only for Firefox and other Mozilla products and as result most 3rd party browsers and applications, that need embedded browsers, switched to Chromium because it was only single engine that possible to use.
I hope Firefox team will work harder and I hope they took some of the market of Chromium based browsers. I also like Microsoft Edge because they removed all Google services from their Chromium based services. From what I know was quite a lot of job and many other companies like Opera, simply did not bother. I really like that Firefox does a lot of innovation in privacy. I think it will be main thing in internet soon.