End of an era as IE6 usage freefalls

In 2007, IE6 will almost certainly lose its crown as the most popular Web browser.

In 2007, Internet Explorer 6 will almost certainly lose its crown as the most popular Web browser after holding the title for many, many years.

Since IE6 was launched in 2001, its leadership has not seriously been challenged. The release of Firefox two years ago certainly gave Microsoft a much needed kick in the pants because it brought some real competition to the market.

Despite Firefox's challenge, IE7 looks set to take the top spot from its predecessor. Since its launch earlier this year, it seems to have become the browser of choice for ZDNet Australia readers upgrading from IE6.

Below are some figures for browsers used by Australians visiting this site during November 2006. The numbers are not supposed to represent the whole industry but they do make interesting reading. They show that while IE6 is definitely on its way out, Firefox has taken a huge chunk of the market and cannot be ignored when developing Web sites and browser-based applications.

In November 2006, just 54 percent of ZDNet Australia visitors used IE6 while 14.5 percent used IE7, which had already become the second most popular browser. Third and fourth places were taken by Firefox 1.5 and Firefox 2.0, with 13 percent and 11 percent respectively.

This means, of all visitors to ZDNet Australia last month, around 68.5 percent were using a recent version of IE while 24 percent used Firefox.

Safari was fifth most popular with around 2.5 percent of site visitors using the Mac browser.

Two years ago, then MD of Microsoft Australia Steve Vamos told me that Microsoft's customers did not want tabbed browsing and Firefox would not threaten IE's market share.

For some reason Vamos has since been promoted and will soon head off to Microsoft HQ in Seattle. I can only assume Bill wanted some help with his next big prediction.