Firefox 3.6 becomes number two browser as IE6 declines

Firefox 3.6 slips into the number two position thanks to falling market share for IE6, but IE8 continues to lead all browsers

The data from the Net Applications for browser market share in August show that Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 continues to lead overall and outpace all competitors in growth. Even better news is that Internet Explorer 6--the archaic and insecure browser that refuses to die--is losing ground.

Combining all variations of Internet Explorer 8, the flagship Microsoft browser accounts for 32.44 percent of the worldwide browser market--nearly double the second place browser. Firefox has bumped Internet Explorer 6 to take the number two spot.

While Mozilla, and fans of Firefox would love to consider that a victory, the reality is more about IE6 declining than Firefox winning market share. Firefox market share was relatively stagnant, but it managed to scratch its way to the number two position thanks to Internet Explorer 6 falling nearly a percent.

Ryan Gavin, Senior Director of Internet Explorer Business and Marketing, describes the Microsoft strategy around IE6. "As we have said in the past, one of our main missions is to get people off IE6 as fast as humanly possible. And while IE6 was a great browser for its time, we all need the web to move forward. First, this is good for developers who we want to be able to write the same markup across their sites. It's good for consumers who should have the protections afforded by a modern browser. Finally, it's good for the Web, particularly as we look ahead to IE9 and begin to see what's possible."

Gavin explains "Today, people on the Web are demanding an even more beautiful web experience. The Internet Explorer 9 Platform Previews continue to generate great buzz among developers and browser enthusiasts, and we have now registered over 2.5 million downloads and 20 million page views to the IE Test Drive Site, our developer site where we show new capabilities in HTML5 and Internet Explorer 9. We are looking forward to even more great things with the release of IE9 Beta this month.

With the gains made by Internet Explorer 8 offset by the losses of Internet Explorer 6, Internet Explorer was down slightly, but still has almost two-thirds of the overall browser market at 60.4 percent. Firefox is in second place with 22.93 percent, and Chrome slides in at third place with a meager 7.52 percent.

Internet Explorer 8 Chrome had a more significant gain than Firefox, though. Google's browser went up a little over a third of a percent, while Firefox was essentially stagnant with a trivial gain of only two hundredths of a percent over the previous month.

In a couple weeks Microsoft is expected to launch the public beta of the next generation browser--Internet Explorer 9. Based on the excitement the platform previews have generated and the preliminary reviews, IE9 will be at least as successful as IE8--making it even more difficult for competing browsers like Firefox and Chrome to gain any significant ground.

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Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
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