Business users prefer Netscape Navigator, but company policy is increasingly forcing them to switch to the rival Microsoft Internet Explorer browser.
That is the conclusion drawn by market research company Zona Research from a poll of US businesses.
For the second time in less than a week, a new report suggests that Netscape continues to lose market share to Microsoft?s Internet Explorer. Last week, Adknowledge published very similar numbers, based on counting the browsers used to access a number of specific Web sites.
Zona?s numbers were obtained in a totally different way, by polling business users. Additionally, Zona questioned businesses about company policy on browser use ? leading to some indication as to what may be driving Netscape?s market share loss. However, Zona?s data is based on a limited sample of 260 companies.
Netscape's browser market share has slipped by eight per cent, from 62 per cent last September to 54 per cent in July. Meanwhile, Internet Explorer has climbed from 36 to 45 per cent.
But Zona also points at another trend - more and more businesses have a corporate browser adoption policy, promoting or requiring the use of just one product within the enterprise.
Sixty four per cent of the businesses polled by Zona said they have such a policy ? up from 59 per cent last September. And where such a policy is in place, it is more likely to be Internet Explorer (55 per cent) than Netscape (45 per cent). Zona claims that for many business users, Netscape is the ?browser of choice? ? but Microsoft is the ?browser of policy?.
?Clearly, corporate browser policies have continued to influence browser placement within the enterprise, and we now see that almost two-thirds of our sample do not have unfettered choice of the browser they use," said Zona analyst Clay Ryder.
Though both browsers are now free, market share remains important. It gives the vendor more leverage to influence Web standards and to promote other, paid-for software such as ecommerce servers. Also, Microsoft and Netscape set their own 'portal' sites as the default home page in their browsers, leading to a steady flow of users to these advertisement driven sites.
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