If Microsoft wants to build market share for its latest version of its Internet Explorer browser, that may be all but impossible. The company has decided to make IE9 incompatible with Windows XP, as it lacks the necessary technologies to power the new browser.
According to research firm NetApplications, nearly 61 percent of all computers run Windows XP as of August. Windows Vista and Windows 7, both IE9 compatible, make up about 30 percent. In other words, seven in 10 PCs are incompatible right out of the box, a major problem for Microsoft.
Due to this, analysts expect that it could take as much as a year or longer before IE9 starts making any inroads. Of course, its uptake is also directly tied to how quickly computer users upgrade too, which is generally hard to predict.
Corporate installs make up a significant portion of the Windows XP install base, and traditionally these are the slowest to upgrade. This could present a problem for Microsoft in that it may be forced to provide support — and patches — for IE8 for an extended period of time due to IT’s reluctance to change.
Behind the decision to leave XP behind is the fact that IE9 uses The Direct2D API to assist in rendering web content faster. Features within the new browser also simply do not work, which would have resulted in a degraded user experience. Yet another reason is hardware acceleration issues, Microsoft says.
“A modern web needs a modern operating system,” IE marketing chief Ryan Gavin told the Register on Thursday.
Windows XP users shouldn’t fret though. Mozilla’s Firefox will still support the now decade old operating system, and so far the company has not announced any plans to abandon development there.