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Firefox beats IE in Europe: A duopoly to come?

Microsoft's IE7 just fell behind Firefox in Europe, hinting at a looming battle between the proprietary software giant and a host of open-source competitors.

Mozilla's Firefox 3 is now Europe's dominant Web browser with 35.05 percent market share, beating out Internet Explorer 7's 34.54 percent share, according to data released by StatCounter and reported by Reuters.

Is this a sign of good things to come for open source? Or is it an indication that we're rapidly nearing an industry-wide duopoly: Microsoft and open source, with everything and everyone else an afterthought?

We still have a ways to go before open-source competitors in ERP, CRM, ECM, middleware, databases, operating systems, and other product segments attain Firefox's dominant share, but progress toward that goal is being made. It's not inconceivable, for example, that the server operating system race will soon be between open-source Red Hat and Microsoft, or that Sun will help to turn MySQL into a mainstream enterprise competitor against Oracle and IBM's DB2, rather than "just" the market leader in Web databases.

Today, Microsoft's like/hate relationship with open source is stuttering to a halt as Microsoft prioritizes competition with Linux over partnership with the wider open-source community. I would assume that as Microsoft comes to compete with an increasing array of open-source products in its primary markets, we'll see fewer attempts to make Windows a welcome place for open-source software, and more attempts to squelch out the rising open-source threat.

In short, maybe Firefox's growing European market share really is a sign of things to come: a sign that only government intervention, like the European Commission's recent rebuke of Microsoft's business practices, can stop Microsoft from desperate, potentially illegal competition to win against open source.

Back to the future?

Follow me on Twitter @mjasay.