While Netscape Navigator remains the primary browser used within enterprises, its lead is slipping as Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) is being adopted by more companies at a steady rate, according to a Zona Research poll released this week.
Fifty-four per cent of the census participants are using Navigator, down from 62 per cent in last September's poll; while 45 per cent responded that they use Microsoft's IE, up from 36 per cent, Zona found.
"We have seen a slow march for IE gaining 1 percentage point per month, since last January; while Navigator has lost 1.2 per cent per month," said Zona vice president and chief analyst Clay Ryder. "We are not convinced, however, that there will be a flip flop from Navigator to IE as the primary browser of choice within enterprises."
Which browser will retain the spot as the primary browser used will depend on corporate purchasing choices, meaning companies that purchase their Web server software from Netscape for example will probably also install the companies Web client, Ryder said.
The fluctuations occurred even though Navigator's product and source code are freely available, Zona said.
Zona's periodical Web Browser Census is based on 260 randomly selected corporate IT professionals.
Sixty-four per cent of those surveyed indicated there company either encourages or requires use of a particular browser, up from 59 per cent in September, according to Zona.
Fifty-five per cent of IT professionals employed by companies with a browser policy indicated that IE was the standard, while 45 per cent use Navigator. IE's highest growth rate has been in this area, added Zona.
A third of the installed copies of IE are the older version 3, the study found, which Zona attributes to the reluctance of IT departments to tamper with existing Windows 95 installations that include the browser, said Ryder.
Because there are so few differences between IE 3.O and IE 4.0, IT managers do not see a reason to go through the effort to upgrade, Ryder said.
"They have bigger fish to fry than to worry about what is more convenient to users," Ryder said.