IE8 gains market share at Microsoft's own expense

New browser cuts into IE7's market share, while Firefox, Safari and Chrome boost theirs.

Gains made by Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) since its launch last Thursday have come at the expense of the older IE7, according to data from Irish metrics firm StatCounter.

And while IE7's market share has fallen by 2.6 percentage points since last Wednesday, the day before Microsoft Corp. debuted IE8, most rival browsers showed significant gains, giving credence to the idea that Microsoft's newest venture has not pushed users of its competitors to switch.

As of Monday, IE8's market share stood at 2%, an increase of 0.7 of a percentage point since the final code was released. IE7, meanwhile, accounted for 36.9% of the browsers that reached the sites StatCounter monitors for its two million users, down from last Wednesday's 39.5%.

Mozilla Corp.'s Firefox 3.0, on the other hand, boosted its market share by 0.5 of a percentage point, to 25.7%, over the same period, while the older Firefox 2.0 grew by 0.05 of a percentage point. Apple Inc.'s Safari 3.2 increased its share by .05 of a percentage point as well since Wednesday, and Google Inc.'s Chrome grew by 0.03 of a percentage point.

Only Opera Software ASA's Opera 9.6 posted a decline in share: The Norwegian-made browser's market share fell by 0.01 percentage point since last Wednesday.

Ironically, it was Microsoft's now-ancient IE6 -- a browser first launched in 2001, prior to the release of Windows XP -- that increased its share the most in the last five days. Since Wednesday, IE6's share climbed 1%; as of today, it accounted for 23.5% of all browsers.

Numbers for IE8 from California-based Net Applications Inc. echo those of StatCounter. As of mid-day, IE8's market share was 2.1%, up from Friday's 1.9% but down from Saturday's 2.3 and Sunday's 2.5%, according to Net Applications' hourly tracking of the new release.

IE8's fall-off from the weekend is not unexpected. Net Applications has repeatedly noted that browsers not sanctioned in the workplace -- in other words, all but IE6 and IE7 -- typically posts gains on weekends, after work hours and on holidays. The theory is that users, freed from being told what browser they must use at work, turn in larger numbers to Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Opera at those times.

IE8, having just been released in final form, is unlikely to have been approved for use in many business environments.

StatCounter's browser data can be found on its Web site, as can Net Applications' tracking of IE8's market share.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
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