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RealTime IT News

Another Slide in IE's Market Share

New research from Web analytics firm WebSideStory said usage of Microsoft's dominant Internet Explorer (IE) has dropped slightly.

WebSideStory found that IE use declined by 2.62 percentage points (for all versions) between June 4th 2004 and Oct 29th 2004.

By contrast, the aggregate of all Netscape and Mozilla variants gained a positive 2.48 percent from 3.54 percent in June to 6.02 percent at the end of October. The firm also said other alternative Web browsers such as Opera and Apple's Safari picked up the rest of the slack with a 0.14 percent gain.

Inside of the total Netscape/Mozilla numbers, however, the much ballyhooed Mozilla Firefox browser now holds just 3 percent of the total browser market.

The WebSideStory survey is based on statistics generated across a network of sites using WebSideStory's HBX analytics solution. It includes the Walt Disney Internet Group, Best Buy, Sony, and DaimlerChrysler. In total, the analytics firm estimated that its sample size consists of somewhere in the range of 10-20 million US Internet users per day.

Other surveys on browser usage have come back showing a similar trend, albeit with some very different numbers. For example, W3Schools.org reported for the month of October that the combined IE total (IE 5/6) was 75.2 percent, which represents a decline from June of 5.5 percent (June IE share, 80.7 percent).

It also tallied the combined Mozilla/Netscape (all versions of Mozilla/Firefox and Netscape 3,4, and 7) at 19.2 percent in October, an increase of 5.4 percent (June Mozilla/Netscape percentage was 13.8 percent).

Browser usage statistics from TheCounter.com (which is owned by the company that owns this site) also show a similar trend. For the month of September, IE usage (both 6.x and 5.x) was 92 percent while Mozilla/Netscape variants were at 5 percent (Mozilla, Netscape 4.x, 5.x, 7.x and Netscape compatible). In June IE usage was at 95 percent while Mozilla/Netscape variants were at 3 percent.

Microsoft's marginally declining IE share comes at a time of increased activity for the Mozilla Foundation's FireFox Web browser. The alternative browser, technically still only a preview release, is expected to hit its official release version 1.0 on November 9th. The non-profit 501-c Mozilla Foundation recently ran a donation drive to fund an ad in the New York Times to help promote the launch.

According to the Mozilla Foundation, the group received more than $250,000 during its 10-day fundraising campaign.

IE, which is often derided as being less secure than its alternative counterparts, recently got a small security "endorsement" from a security researcher for the quality of code in the browser.

But Both IE and alternative browsers have faced security issues. Alternatives have recently suffered from a tabbed browsing vulnerability while IE continues to be plagued by a drag and drop vulnerability.