Internet Explorer gains Web browser market share from Firefox

Internet Explorer gains Web browser market share from Firefox

Summary: But, at first glance it appears IE 6 (!) that gains the most, while Firefox loses the most. A closer look reveals the truth.

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TOPICS: Browser, Microsoft
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Rumor has it that by the time the South by SouthWest (SXSW) conference rolls around in a few weeks, all the major Web browsers-Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer (IE), Opera, and Safari--will have come out with new versions. So, why, is the oldest, and the most insecure of the lot, IE 6, making the single biggest browser version gain according to Net Applications' latest Web browser survey?

Well you can blame the CIA. No, seriously.

As Net Applications explained, "All of our global usage share reports are weighted based on C.I.A. data on how many Internet users per country there are. For example, we have more data on the U.S. than China so we weight the Chinese data proportionally higher according to the research provided by the C.I.A."

In February, the C.I.A. released new data on how many Internet users per country there are. It shows a large increase in the global percentage of Chinese users and a decrease in the global percentage of users from the U.S., U.K, Germany, France and other developed countries.

These geographic shifts in Internet usage have a significant impact on the global usage share numbers starting in February. This adjustment corrects an increasing inaccuracy over time as population shifts occur and reflects reality more closely than unadjusted numbers.

The net result is that between January 2011, with the old way of counting, and February 2011, with the CIA-adjusted numbers, IE 6--the browser that even Microsoft wants to kill, kill, kill--gained .7%. Fortunately, for the sake of the sanity of all Web security gurus everywhere, IE 6 adjusted numbers still shows the bad browser from pre-history still dropping.

So, how did IE 6 even show a gain of any sort by any kind of measurement? The answer is in that "large increase in the global percentage of Chinese users." In China, many, perhaps most, Windows users are using pirated copies of XP. Even though Microsoft has made it possible for pirate XP users to get IE 7 without proving they had legal copies with Windows Genuine Advantage, most such users don't appear to have taken advantage of the offer.

Net Applications doesn't have that much hard data from China, but it weights its Chinese data higher because it has a greater percentage of the world's Internet users than other countries. So it is, Net Applications reports that "Firefox loses global share since many of the countries it is most popular in (Western European, in particular) now have a lower percentage of global Internet users. Internet Explorer gains as browser usage shifts to countries with higher percentages of Internet Explorer users." Indeed in Europe, Firefox is still the number one browser.

That said, IE, for the first time in months, actually did show real gains. As Roger Capriotti, Microsoft's director of Internet Explorer Product Marketing, wrote, "We saw share of both Internet Explorer 8 and 9 grow." Specifically, "When adjusted using the older weighting, IE8 and 9 actually show even stronger growth on Windows: up 1.31% (versus 1.13% using the new February weighting) - or over three times Chrome's 0.42% growth. We continue to measure our share progress relative to our addressable base, and in this case our addressable base is Windows."

Even if you take into account Mac OS X, Linux and other users, IE did show smaller, but real, growth. This growth came at the expense of Firefox. I strongly suspect this was because of the growing popularity of IE 9, which is now at the release candidate stage; the continued rise of Chrome; and, it must be said, the continued delays in getting Firefox 4 out the door.

This spring and summer, after IE 9, which runs only on Windows 7, and Firefox 4 are rolled out and Chrome 9 has had a chance to establish itself, will tell the real story of which program will end up being the top Web browser for 2011 here, in Europe, and in China.

Topics: Browser, Microsoft

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30 comments
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  • RE: Internet Explorer gains Web browser market share from Firefox

    it would be nice if ie9 RC didn't install a memory leak...more people would use it...had to get rid of it and go back to the beta to get my PC back under control
    htotten
    • RE: Internet Explorer gains Web browser market share from Firefox

      @htotten

      That is absurd; maybe you should read up on dynamic memory managment.
      Mythos7
      • RE: Internet Explorer gains Web browser market share from Firefox

        @Mythos7
        What are you talking about? What does dynamic memory management have to do with IE not correctly managing it's memory resources?
        ParadoxG
    • RE: Internet Explorer gains Web browser market share from Firefox

      @htotten : Hmmm. ever thought that this is a bug that still has to be fixed [or a rare bug related to a leak - as not all systems are the same].

      That said, I would never play around with a beta or RC on my regular PC. I'd relegate it to a VM. THis way I don';t have to worry about buggy coding. They probably even tell you not to use it on a production/primary PC.
      Gis Bun
      • Master Joe Says...They Do

        @Gis Bun It is ALWAYS stated in any pre-RTM release of ANY software that it should not be used in a production environment. It is a Release Candidate, which means that, while they expect the code is complete, they need one last round of TESTING, before they can be sure. That is the point of a Release Candidate, to expand on the beta testing. What's more, I did install IE 9 on my Windows 7 x64 box at home, and it worked perfectly fine, with no memory leaks or anything else. I've never even seen reports of this happening. Sounds like someone who is just trying to spread anti-Microsoft venom around more than a legit claim against a piece of software. Just saying.

        --Master Joe
        SteelCityPC
  • RE: Internet Explorer gains Web browser market share from Firefox

    Correction: IE9 runs on Windows 7 and Windows Vista
    1773
  • CIA is unreliable

    those numbers are off by 10% in favor of M$.
    Linux Geek
    • RE: Internet Explorer gains Web browser market share from Firefox

      @Linux Geek : Figures. Anti-Microsoft attituide coming from a Linux zealot. Can't take anything negative against open source and positive about Microsoft?
      Gis Bun
      • RE: Internet Explorer gains Web browser market share from Firefox

        @Gis Bun : It is widely known that CIA wants everybody to use Winodws and IE. Makes life easier for their spies.
        gnufreex
    • RE: Internet Explorer gains Web browser market share from Firefox

      @Linux Geek

      Probably not. Still, it doesn't matter. IE is around 06%, FF is around 25% and the rest cluster for the rest of the share. Each will bounce up or down a couple of percent each month. The long term trend is the one to watch.

      What will really hurt IE is the long slow move away from Windows. That is happening.
      YetAnotherBob
  • RE: Internet Explorer gains Web browser market share from Firefox

    Not surprised. Compared to IE9, Firefox 3.x is a slug in terms of performance.
    statuskwo5
    • RE: Internet Explorer gains Web browser market share from Firefox

      @statuskwo5 - That's not a valid comparison.
      search & destroy
      • RE: Internet Explorer gains Web browser market share from Firefox

        @search & destroy Yeah I know, I should download FF4 beta and then compare the two. Even so, Chrome and IE9 are pretty close in terms of speed.
        statuskwo5
  • Yeah right...

    Once and for all, we can now safely conclude that NetApplications were skewed all along. All that CIA stuff sound like a "pig-lipstick" way to make IE gain market share.

    Maybe Microsoft saw the original data and saw IE drop below the 50% mark, so they prompted a review, which promptly was addressed by Net Applications by pulling the CIA change from under their hat. Ironically this made Microsoft look a lot worse, being up ended by their own obsolete systems.
    cosuna
    • RE: Internet Explorer gains Web browser market share from Firefox

      @cosuna : A conspiracy theory fan? "Obsolete system"? Which? Windows XP? Still being used by more people than any other OS. Add all the Macs and all the Linux systems and it still wouldn't come close to Windows XP.
      Gis Bun
  • RE: Internet Explorer gains Web browser market share from Firefox

    Totally flawed metrics. IE is on the way down and out.
    james347
    • RE: Internet Explorer gains Web browser market share from Firefox

      @james347 : On it's way out? At almost 57%? No other browser is even in the near vacinity. Talking about biased....
      Gis Bun
      • RE: Internet Explorer gains Web browser market share from Firefox

        @Gis Bun
        What are you talking about? It is at 45%. Here:
        http://gs.statcounter.com/
        kirovs
      • RE: Internet Explorer gains Web browser market share from Firefox

        @Gis Bun

        Just two years ago we were being told that IE would never drop below 80%. Can you see a trend here?
        YetAnotherBob
    • RE: Internet Explorer gains Web browser market share from Firefox

      @james347

      Yes, but it's a long slow slide.
      YetAnotherBob