Microsoft is busy previewing Internet Explorer 8 or maybe more accurately Internet Explorer 7.5 and we can look forward to IE8 having workable tabbed browsing and you know other features that were in Firefox 2. Predictably enough Microsoft is playing catch up with an earlier browser version of Firefox and doing a clumsy job of it, also as usual.
So what does Microsoft need to do to actually win?
A great deal of Firefox’s appeal rests not with its features but its wide range of plugins. Firefox is so valuable in part because plugins extend its ability and appeal in ways that Mozilla doesn’t have the time or effort for. Internet Explorer 7 has a handful of very primitive plugins in the Windows Marketplace, Internet Explorer 8 is going to have to get serious about bringing plugins on board and reaching out to make sure that IE8 has a lot more going for it than the development team can do on their own.
Leapfrog. Yes nail down the features that Firefox has and used to have, but move forward. That doesn’t require any crazy thinking, just offer useful and functional features that Firefox doesn’t have yet, speed up the browsing experience and I know it’s a heretical thought for Microsoft’s bloatware express, but reduce the memory and cpu footprint, not that hard you would think for the company that also makes the operating system into which the browser is integrated.
Finally don’t assume you’re the winner, play the underdog, play catchup but also work to head off Firefox at the pass. Stop assuming the average user is a moron, spend less time on hand holding and on the Microsoft way and more time thinking out of the box.