Browser vendors all update their software often to patch for security issues. The problem is that not all browser users update to the latest versions quickly, if at all.
A new study from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology’s Stefan Frei and Google’s Thomas Duebendorfer looked at how quickly users were updating their browsers based on an analysis of the user-agent string that Google sees.
Google’s log files show that after 21 days of a Google Chrome release, 97 percent of users were updated to the latest version. Mozilla Firefox had 85 percent of users updated within 21 days. Apple’s Safari only had 53 percent of users updated.
The study did not include Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, which I found to be very surprising, but they do have a good explanation. It’s just not all that easy to see if IE is actually updated.
“Microsoft Internet Explorer only reports the major version number and
omits the minor version number in the user agent string,” the study states. “The often
stated reason for this omission is to reduce information leakage and
make it harder for an attacker to select a working exploit for the
actual browser version in use…Therefore, based
solely on our Web server logs, we cannot determine the update speed of
minor versions within the Microsoft Internet Explorer population.”
So why did Google win in the update race?