Chrome and Internet Explorer locked in Web browser desktop battle

Chrome and Internet Explorer locked in Web browser desktop battle

Summary: Chrome has moved ahead of Internet Explorer recently, but IE is making a comeback.

Chrome is still in the lead, but IE is closing the gap.

I'm a big Chrome fan and so are many other people since Chrome recently became the world's favorite browser, but according to StatCounter's August numbers, Internet Explorer (IE), has been making a comeback.

By StatCounter's count, Chrome passed Internet Explorer during the week of May 13th. StatCounter's stats are based on a sample of 15 billion page views in the company's network and they show that Chrome was gradually pulling away from IE. As  Aodhan Cullen, StatCounter's CEO wrote in a blog posting in July . "There is much greater competition now. Although IE still leads in countries such as the US and UK, on a worldwide basis Google's Chrome overtook IE in May and maintained a narrow lead in June."

In August, though, IE started taking some market share back. Chrome had increased its lead in July, 33.81% to IE's 32.04% but IE closed the gap in August. By the end of the month, Chrome lost a bit, to 33.59% and IE had gained some to reach 32.85%.

Some of IE's gains were at Chrome's expense, but the real loser has been Firefox. The long time number two Web browser dropped from 23.73% in July to 22.8% in August.

After a long decline, IE is back on its way up while Firefox continues its decline.

So why is this happening? In part, it seems to be that Firefox has lost some of its mojo in recent years. It's no longer the fastest browser and it's once strongest feature—its multitude of extensions and add-on programs—is no longer unique.

As to why IE is making a come-back... I can only speculate. There has been no new release of IE, well Chrome, as always keeps popping out new releases every six weeks. Thus, the latest IE for XP is still IE 8, for IE 9 is still Windows 7's default browser , while  Chrome is now up to Chrome 21 with 22 soon to come.

You might guess that the gain was due to IE 10, which is the released to manufacturing (RTM) Windows 8's default Web browser, but a closer look at StatCounter's data shows that IE 10 still doesn't have any market share worth mentioning. The biggest gain by version is for IE 9, so perhaps what we're seeing is Windows XP users moving to Windows 7 and giving IE 9 a fair shake.

Will Microsoft continue to gain back market share? Or, at least stabilize its share of the market? Some people, like Matt Asay, VP of Business Development at Nodeable, a big data analytics company, thinks “the trend among web developers is clearly away from IE and toward open-source browsers therefore, “unless the company can renew developers enthusiasm for the little blue e, expect the bottom to fall out of Internet Explorer's market share.”

We shall see what we shall see. The one thing we do know for certain is that the Web browser wars are still far from done. 

Related Stories:

Windows 7 overtakes XP; Mac OS X steams ahead of Vista

Microsoft sticks to default Do Not Track settings in IE 10

Security, compatibility key factors for browser choice

Google offers up to US$2 million to break Chrome

Google Chrome 21 is out

Topics: Browser, Google, Microsoft, Networking, Software, Software Development, PCs, Windows

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Wow the first article from SJVN that i could read without itching

    Keep up this good work and it will be a joy reading your articles :)
    • I agree

      I'm shocked SJVN. Could you please keep this up?

      "The biggest gain by version is for IE 9, so perhaps what we're seeing is Windows XP users moving to Windows 7 and giving IE 9 a fair shake."

      Yes to this. While I think IE is a fine browser, as a switcher to Chrome I can't picture any reason why anyone would switch back. Kudos to Google for making such a fine browser.
      • Of course you can't picture anybody using anything else

        You'd be fired from you janitor job up in Redmond.

        Cylon Centurion
        • And the clue-o-meter reads zero...

          toddbottom's quote:

          "While I think IE is a fine browser, [b][i]as a switcher to Chrome I can't picture any reason why anyone would switch back. Kudos to Google for making such a fine browser[/i][/b].
          " (emphasis added).

          He didn't say he preferred IE9 to Chrome, he said he preferred Chrome to IE9.

          Remember: reading comprehension helps prevent foot-in-mouth disease...
          • The fact that he's narrow-minded and unwilling to look at anything else..

            ...once his mind is made up was apparently lost on you. I suggest you do a little reading comprehension preventing foot-in-mouth disease, yourself...
            Cylon Centurion
      • Does Ballmer leave his shoes outside the door?

        For you to shine?

        Cylon Centurion
  • Chrome

    is the very most important Google's software. They quickly need to develop a "Modern UI" version to don't lose ground once Windows 8 is around.
  • Microsoft needs to do sometime about perception.

    It's not that Internet Explorer (at least version 9 and 10) is bad, because is is not. Rather, it's the perception that Internet Explorer is bad that's bringing IE down.

    Microsoft needs to do something to show that people need to give IE a fair shot.
    • IE is still a pig to develop for.

      When it comes to automated Web testing, Firefox is still the easiest browser to use. Far too much of IE needs to be configured "by hand", and you can only have one version of IE installed per server anyway.

      Although Firefox's runaway "major version number inflation" breaks far, far too many things. Who ON EARTH thought that it would be a good idea?
      • Actually...

        As a lead-developer for one of large portals, I find IE's testing tools more accurate and easy to read into than Chrome's. And definitely since IE9 I had no problems on design (with exception of external javascripts that are not in my control, such as third party ads or social integration)
        • And I find Firefox + Firebug much better than IE9

          I notice you didn't mention Firefox. Nor IE8, for that matter. Surely you're not supporting IE9 without IE8!?
          • IE8 hardly?

            Granted Firebug is also a great tool for finding more complex errors and warnings but I'm not using it unless it is an unorthodox errors / warnings.

            Sure, we do support IE7, IE8 and IE9/IE10 respectively. Since IE7 MS has a trend for supporting more. We are not using any fancy CSS3/HTML5 only tags most of the time and when we do jQuery w/ Modernizr to handle most complex stuff. IE8 fully supports CSS2.1 so it is really not IE8 causing problems but IE7.

            Sure, it is nice people moving towards higher versions, but what I meant was developer side of the story for using IE9/IE10 on that matter.
          • So no automated testing, then?

            In other words, are you using a tool like Selenium to automate testing the user's interaction with the web pages? It doesn't sound like it... (and I repeat that IE is an absolute pig for such things).

            "Granted Firebug is also a great tool for finding more complex errors and warnings but I'm not using it unless it is an unorthodox errors / warnings."

            So in other words, "Yes, Firefox + Firebug is better for development - it handles the cases that IE cannot." ;-)
        • Testing

          I use Firefox. but for websites, I use Amaya for testing the site code.

          Why would I want to use a browser specific testing suite? each one tests for it's own browser. It seems to me that the W3C should know what the code should be like. Otherwise, I would have to use at least 3 test suites. Perhaps even 4 or 5. After all, there are at least a dozen different browsers out there.
  • IE is ... untasty

    Every now and then I am forced, thanks to the asshatedness of some developer or his bosses, to use IE to do things on a website. When I do, I find it still asks me permission to do this or that, no matter how many times I say yes or try to tweak security settings. It is like going to the opera and having everything pause because the conductor has to take a piss.

    No thanks.
    • Actually, I LIKE that in a browser

      Whether it's IE, Firefox, or Seamonkey, I [b]prefer[/b] that my browser ask me before performing certain functions -- especially things like Java, Javascript, Flash, know, all of the 3rd-party add-ons that can cause problems with your system, no matter what OS you're running.

      The only thing I've had to do, though, is streamline Firefox a bit for my wife -- she doesn't like having to answer the questions every time, & can sometimes get a little impatient -- but that's probably why Firefox is more "her" browser & Seamonkey (with the occasional use of IE & Firefox) is "my" browser.
  • Stat Counter data is bogus

    With XP dying faster than before and with Win 8 going to explode, IE usage will shoot up.
    Chrome got its share because IE9 doesn't run on XP.
    • And I have a bridge to sell you, wishful thinker

      What color would you like? I can make your dream a reality.

      Cylon Centurion
    • Chrome also gets its share from Adobe Flash updates

      The recent Flash updates now have an Install Chrome box ticked so lots of people are inadvertently installing Chrome as the default browser.

      Another example of dealing with an advertising company. The main OSs come with perfectly good browsers, so Google needs some social engineering to get the numbers up.
      • Gee, I just updated Flash

        No Chrome on my machine.

        Just untick the box. Doh.
        Cylon Centurion