Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The continuing problem of Korea's Microsoft Monoculture

Since I live in South Korea, direct personal experience with the so-called "Microsoft monoculture" here is more or less inevitable.  I've posted somewhat regularly on this topic.
At any rate, this week I tried to make use of a Google docs presentation in one of my classes, only to discover that the electronic podium was loaded with Windows XP and an older version (IE 6.1 I believe) of Internet Explorer that would not even allow me to log on to Google docs, let alone view the presentation!  That excruciating experience reminded me that it was about time to take another look at this nation's excessive dependence on Microsoft software that much of the rest of the world has already discarded.   The Korea Times carried a good summary a few days ago, entitled "Korea still stuck in Active-X."   The opening two paragraphs of the story pretty much tell the story about internet use in South Korea, as follows.
"Many Internet users find Web browsers Google Chrome and Firefox more convenient than Internet Explorer (IE), but users here often stay with the latter due to the prevalence of Active X technology.
Over 80 percent of the country’s Internet sites still use this technology, which is not only vulnerable to malicious code, but also damages consumers’ right to freely choose the Web browser they want." The article goes on to note that "Internet users wanting to engage in commerce have no option but to use the Microsoft browser, and as a result IE has an 80 share of the browser market here while its ratio has fallen to below 40 percent globally."  The accompanying graphic from StatCounter shows the global trend (click on the graphic to see a full-size version).
The Korea Times article contains some interesting background detail on how the current situation in Korea came about and is well worth reading.
I am one of many consumers, both Korean and expatriate, who would love to use my smartphone to check bank account balances or do other such routine tasks, but this will have to await decisions by government and industry bodies here to shed their dependence on outdated Microsoft software and enter the 21st century.  People like me will not switch from using Chrome or Firefox back to Internet "exploder" just to do their banking or credt card transactions, especially with the security risks that such a move might involve.

1 comment:

  1. I think smartphones will be the key.

    The statcounter figures for desktop vs mobile browsing shows 20% of browsing is mobile in Korea (almost all Android) so actually IE is only 60% of browsing if you count both together.

    I couldn't see any other country with more than half that amount of mobile browsing (though I suppose it could just be an artifact of the data collection method which probably isn't tuned specifically for Korea).