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Internet Explorer market share keeps eroding as Chrome's grows

The odds are lower than ever that you're viewing this in a version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, according to the latest market research.

Net Applications' widely-cited statistics, based on data collected at tens of thousands of clients' sites, now show IE's share of the browser market dropping to 59.95 percent.


This Aliso Viejo, Calif., firm's research and that of others--see, for instance, StatCounter's numbers--reveal other interesting trends. Former IE users have been migrating not just to Mozilla Firefox (with a 24.59 percent share in Net Applications' data, the most popular alternative to Microsoft's browser), but increasingly to Google's Chrome (6.73 percent.) Apple's Safari and Opera's self-titled browser, meanwhile, have stagnated.

Now in most businesses, owning even half of the market would count as domination. But for a Web browser that multiple surveys credited with a 95-percent share earlier in this decade, it represents a horrific decline.

Somewhere, Netscape's lizard mascot--named Mozilla, in case you wondered about the origins of that moniker--is pointing and laughing.

I can't see why this trend will slow. Microsoft's current Internet Explorer 8 compares poorly to current versions of competing browsers, while the next releases of Firefox and Chrome look set to arrive well before Microsoft's in-development Internet Explorer 9. And in the European Union, a "browser ballot" interface required by an antitrust settlement makes it easy for new Windows users to choose their own browser.

At some sites, IE users have become an outright minority. For example, the tech-news site Ars Technica reports that more than 40 percent of readers use Firefox, with IE's 19.39 percent barely beating Safari and Chrome.

I took my own guess about your browser at the start of this post, but I'd like to get a better sense of your taste in software--or your employer's taste. So I put together the following poll; please vote, then indulge in the usual post-Internet-poll practice of trash-talking everybody else's choice.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  May 4, 2010; 9:03 PM ET
Categories:  The Web  
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Google Chrome gives me better performance and fewer problems both in office and at home.

Posted by: Hokiemom | May 4, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

I had been using Google Chrome on my Macbook Air more often than other browser, but then I started using an extremely Flash laden web site on a regular basis. Through unscientific sampling and anecdotal experiences, I found that Chrome would crumble under the travesty that is Flash faster than Safari, so I've been using Safari in 32 bit mode. I use 32bit mode in order to use the adblock plug-in that for reasons that don't make any sense to me doesn't work in 64 bit mode.

Posted by: Annorax | May 5, 2010 6:02 AM | Report abuse

I couldn't really answer this poll because my browser use is situational. At work, the browser supplied is IE6. This doesn't work with all the websites I need to use so I also use Firefox ( which doesn't work with all the websites I use either!). I use Safari in my iPhone (and sure miss the Flash player). So I guess I am still waiting for the perfect browser. Off I go to try Chrome I guess!

Posted by: adbr | May 5, 2010 6:38 AM | Report abuse

I was early adopter of Firefox and used it for years (leaving IE). I am a Gmail and Google Calendar user. Firefox got balky for unknown reasons and had to be reloaded. I decided to give Chrome a try since I had to use it to download Firefox.

I now find Chrome preferable for the following reasons- faster, has effective extensions, and Google gears allows offline use of mail and calendar with data residing on home computer.
Extensions for Google Voice and email forwarding of pages are particularly smooth and easy. Other extensions similar to Firefox such as Evernote, OnePage, IE tab, XMarks, and Roboform. Roboform works better in Firefox.

Final minor browsing issue with Chrome is that when you go from one page to another and return, the return is always at the top of the page (not where you click from). There is a 'work around' to this but it is an extra step.

Posted by: wovose | May 5, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

For work I'm on IE7. Wish I didn't have to be, but considering it took me six months of whining to even get that far I'll take it.

At home and on my personal laptop I'm on Firefox and like it much better. Crashes much less often.

Posted by: | May 5, 2010 8:17 AM | Report abuse

At work:
FireFox for most things. IE8 for dev purposes. Chrome occasionally.

At home, on my Mac, Chrome for most things, Safari for

Posted by: wiredog | May 5, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

I use Firefox mainly because I like the extensive list of quality addons that make tweaking a breeze.

Posted by: jafu3457 | May 5, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

I'm using SeaMonkey- by the Mozilla foundation.
It's a brother to Firefox, and the true son of the Mozilla/Netscape legacy.

At work I use Firefox. They're solid, well made, reliable browsers.

All browsers will crash eventually. That's not because they're necessarily bad, or because of a plugin being necessarily either- most often it's the webpage structure and coding that causes the issue, how they use the plugins, and in Flash it's not Flash itself but poorly coded applications in it. If anyone expects their broser or plugin to protect them against bad coding all the time, maybe they should still be living with their parents.

Posted by: ozoneocean | May 5, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

I usually run Firefox and Chrome concurrently. I tend to use Chrome for things that are either work-specific or Google-specific and FF for everything else. I am getting a lot of hard crashes with FF lately. Very frustrating. At least when a tab crashes in Chrome, it usually doesn't take down the whole browser.

Posted by: slar | May 5, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

At work I use mostly Firefox and Chrome, sometimes Opera.

At home: Firefox - I simply love all the add-ons.

Posted by: goranka | May 5, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

It should be noted that Firefox usage share has been stagnant at just below 25% for almost 7 months now. So it appears that all who have been planning to switch to Firefox have already done so.

Although it still has a comparatively small market share, Chrome is making the biggest percentage increases. And although IE's overall market share is down, IE8's share is growing.

Posted by: scarper86 | May 5, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

At home, Chrome is pushing aside Firefox because Chrome starts up so much faster than Firefox. But until Xmarks gets password sync working on Chrome, I still use Firefox sometimes.

Posted by: jfehribach | May 5, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I recently worked at an office that would only allow you to use IE6. That was awful. I love the irony that the policy is for security reasons but IE6 is the least secure browser out there.

But Rob, I don't think commenters will be ripping on each other about this one. Most of the IE users here are forced to use it and get sympathy. Most Chrome and Firefox users generally like one only slightly more than the other and probably use both sometimes (I'm in that category). Safari users are probably on Macs and that would turn into more of a PC v. Mac debate.

Posted by: Booyah5000 | May 5, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I've used Firefox for several years and continue to prefer it to Chrome and especially IE. When I'm forced to use IE for testing and at client sites I remember why I hate it. Microsoft can't figure out how to plug their security holes so they give us "features" that are totally ridicules.

But, beyond the above, isn't it time for all the browser developers to get together with the W3 Consortium and agree on the standards for rendering XHTML/CSS documents?

Posted by: bjrenton | May 5, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Like many other posters, I can't answer the poll because it is not multiple choice or "all of the above". Like a couple others, we use IE6 at the office because there is ONE mission-critical enterprise app which runs ONLY on IE6. At home I use IE8 mostly for Microsoft Update and a Hotmail account.

Serious surfing is done with Firefox and SeaMonkey (nice to see another vote for SeaMonkey; really like the built-in POP mail and HTML editor) at home and at work.

Chrome is on both for fairly specialized tasks like Gmail. It IS blazingly fast, but I miss the control over cookies (like the Twitter cookies on this page) and other environmental settings (like dumping the cache) I get with Mozilla products.

At home I have Safari just to keep an eye on what they are up to, but it gets only sporadic use. Its bookmark feature is not terribly intuitive. Safari 4 was a design step up from the too-Mac-like interface of Safari 3.

Only the Mozilla browsers have the ability to permanently store a security certificate exception. (Yahoo! Mail, anyone?)

IE8 is by far the slowest of the bunch. It appears that IE9 is going to become even more niche by its exclusive support for H.264 video. It would be interesting for Rob to poll IE use by version, since one generally cannot have multiple versions of IE on the same box without a lot of ancillary pain.

Posted by: 54Stratocaster | May 5, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

A lot of Web jockeys ARE still living with their parents...

Posted by: 54Stratocaster | May 5, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Color me out of touch. In Win7 Pro, IE8 gives me better performance than Firefox. Truthfully, I haven't given Chrome much chance, but it opens faster. I just don't like the feel of it. Sorry, M/S haters. Also, even though I've been a longtime Firefox user and advocate, the Firefox browser takes longer and longer to open with each update or upgrade AND uses more memory with whatever processes are running after it's closed. The updating processes are also getting a little annoying on a laptop I travel with that is admittedly a little (ok, a lot) underpowered.

I'm NOT thrilled with IE8, but when they gave me a favorites bar and a recent pages button, they pulled even and beyond, especially when I consider the burden that Firefox has become on RAM and resources.

Posted by: JamesChristian | May 7, 2010 2:20 AM | Report abuse

I had used Firefox at home for years until a few months ago - I couldn't take how memory intensive (SLOW) it got and it crashed way too often. So I switched to Chrome and like it a lot. Re: Firefox, I'm not sure if it was the plug-ins, extensions, PC I use or Firefox itself but it would come to a grinding halt for minutes at a time. Chrome works nicely and its task manager is a nice feature. I still miss most of my extensions and some pages don't look right in Chrome though. IE7 at work and it's awful.

Posted by: jmrzx | May 10, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

A little late here, but it's such a JOY to sign in to the WaPo website each time, that I now read once or twice a week. Are malware writers adapting their handiwork to the more diffuse market--or are the chumps who are their bread and butter concentrated among the IE users. I actually had to use IE the other day for some meshuggah website.

Posted by: featheredge99 | May 15, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

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