Survey: Internet Explorer 'most influential' tech product in past 25 years

Interesting word "influential."

In choosing "most influential" as the standard for a survey in conjunction with its 25th anniversary, the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) all but guaranteed the results this poll of IT professionals produced.

"Best" certainly would have been a different story.

But, hey, it's their survey and "most influential" in this case means Microsoft, whose products took four of the top five spots in a Web poll - warning light flashes - that attracted 471 participants. (Can you guess the lone Top 5 interloper? It wouldn't make my Top 10 ... answer below.)

Whatever one might think of Internet Explorer - and plenty of people hate it plenty - critics face an uphill climb in disputing its perch atop this list once "most influential" is established as the criterion. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recently noted that "the install base of Windows computers this coming 12 months will reach one billion." So why not Windows on top of the list? Because that base doesn't use Windows, per se, it uses IE.

Of course, having topped out at 95% market penetration in 2003, IE has seen a steady erosion of its share in subsequent years, primarily due to the accelerating consumer embrace of Firefox. Another poll in five or 10 years will likely be less kind to IE.

No. 2: Microsoft Word, with which I type these words.

No. 3: Windows 95, the release of which now seems so long ago as to make me want to weep.

No. 4: A tie ... Microsoft Excel, which strikes me as a strange choice, given my aversion to numbers, and the mystery intruder we'll get to in a moment.

As for the remainder of the Top 10, poll respondents picked:

No. 6: BlackBerry.

No. 7: Adobe Photoshop.

No. 8: McAfee VirusScan

No. 9: Netscape Navigator.

No. 10: Palm Pilot.

And as for that Top 5 product that Microsoft didn't make: Apple's iPod.

Hey, don't blame me; I didn't get a vote.

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