Browser Wars: Chrome winning, IE losing

Chrome keeps growing despite competition from Internet Explorer 9 and Firefox 4.

Slowly but surely IE loses and Chrome gains.

Slowly but surely IE loses and Chrome gains.

The latest NetMarketShare Web browser numbers are out for May 2011, and they show Chrome growing faster than any of the other browsers with Internet Explorer (IE) continuing its slow decline.

I've always thought that Microsoft restricting Internet Explorer (IE) 9 to Vista and Windows 7 was a mistake. What I hadn't realized that even on Windows 7, IE 9 was going to face such an uphill battle for mind share. On Windows 7, where Microsoft unexpectedly started pushing IE9 to users via Windows Update in April instead of June, IE 9 still has only 12.04% of the market.

Indeed, while IE 8 is Windows 7's number one Web browser with a healthy, but declining 42.51%, Chrome 11, with 14.82%, and Firefox 4 with 14.05% are both ahead of IE 9. If you lump in Firefox 3.6's numbers, 8.52%, with Firefox 4's share, Firefox has almost twice as much market share on Windows 7 as does IE 9.

Now, Internet Explorer isn't going to die off. In fact, as Microsoft gets ready to copycat Google Chrome OS and Apple's iOS, instead of Mac OS X, for Windows 8, IE 10 will be more important than ever. While Windows 8 won't be a cloud-based operating system that relies on its browser for everything, it's certainly moving that way.

Unfortunately, when it comes to Web browsers, users are no longer following IE. Yes, IE is still the most popular Web browser, but when you look at the larger world of browsers all operating systems and platforms, IE is losing.

I think it's very telling that Microsoft will soon start supporting Microsoft Office Web apps with its Office 2010 SP1 release. Microsofties doubtlessly hate Chrome, but they know they have to support it now.

I also consider it noteworthy that despite the pushing IE 9 out to users, May actually saw IE's overall usage drop by 0.84% compared to its twelve month average drop of 0.54%. In the meantime, Chrome is now used by one in eight users. It's market deltas-the rate of change-like that which makes me quite sure that Chrome OS and Chromebooks will prove the first significant threat to Windows on the work desktop in decades.

Depressingly enough I have to report that IE 6 still has 10.36% of the market. Please, please let IE 6 just go away!

While IE 6, like cockroaches, won't die, the other standalone browsers' future, Firefox and Opera, doesn't look so bright. While Firefox is still an important browser, and its users were far happier to switch to Firefox 4 than IE users were to move to IE 9, and Opera continues to hold its modest stakes, neither is tied into an operating system the way that Chrome is with Chrome OS, IE is with Windows, and Apple's Safari is with iOS. Just counting iPads alone, Safari has 0.92% of the Web browser market.

At this rate I foresee in 2013, a world where Chrome, IE, and Safari, in that order, are the dominant browsers on modern hardware. I wouldn't be shocked though to see Safari, yes Safari, ahead of IE. Mobile platforms are where the action's at, and I seriously doubt that Microsoft can get the multi-platform Windows 8 out before 2013 at the earliest.

Related Stories:

Chrome browser makes steady gains

Chrome 11: The Best Browser?

Microsoft Office Web Apps to officially support Chrome with Office 2010 Service Pack 1

Four Reasons Firefox 4 can make a go of it--And one reason why it can't.

Five Reasons not to "Upgrade" to Windows' Internet Explorer 9