HP's plan to ship the Netscape web browser on new consumer PCs and laptops demonstrates that the quietly growing desire for alternative browsers to Internet Explorer (IE) has now hit the market mainstream, according to web testers SciVisum.
"HP's move shows that consumer concerns about IE security have hit the mainstream. In a new twist on the browser wars, IE will no longer reign alone: instead, many users will opt to have two or more browsers, to address security concerns," said Deri Jones, CEO, SciVisum.
"Clearly, HP is hoping that their Netscape proposal will be attractive to the 'semi-savvy' users who have read the IE concerns but have not had the confidence to try other browsers; or who found it a nuisance to have two browsers.
"But this move will also highlight these security concerns to less savvy consumers - and drive non?IE take up to pastures new. This is likely to counteract the recent slowdown in growth in Firefox and Netscape browsers. People were attributing this to all the Microsoft haters and Firefox advocates having already switched. There is some merit to this in that most PC users don't replace the software they get on their PC and so have IE for life.
"But obviously now HP is offering users a Netscape choice 'from install' too, which levels the playing field. We welcome news that other vendors will follow suit.
"In addition, Netscape allows users to switch to viewing a problem page using the IE render engine, making it really easy for the user - one browser to launch, one interface, but the choice to view problem websites using IE at a single click.
"It'll be interesting to see whether HP is also thinking about bundling other open source products on its PCs? There would be a clear marketing opportunity to the first vendor who bundles OpenOffice with all their PCs - giving their customers a perceived value of the Microsoft Office suit at zero cost.
"This move alone though is great for consumers - it gives them much more flexibility and choice. And the wider use of Netscape or Firefox will be of benefit too - certainly until we've seen IE7 in use for more than six months and can tell whether it may be a more secure web browser than IE6."