Internet Explorer Loses More Market Share
September 15, 2004
By Matt Hicks
Microsoft Internet Explorer is continuing to lose share in the browser
market, as its much-smaller competitors chisel at its dominant position,
new Web site visitor data shows.
Microsoft's browser has dropped by 1.8 percentage points over the past
three months to 93.7 percent of the market, according to data provided
Wednesday by Web analytics vendor WebSideStory Inc.
The latest data comes after IE's market share fell a percentage point
between June and July in the wake of a series of high-profile security
issues—the first time WebSideStory had recorded an IE drop.
The benefactors of Microsoft's slight, but sustained, decline since June
have included the open-source browsers from the Mozilla Foundation and a
commercial competitor from Opera Software ASA.
WebSideStory's data categorized the alternative browsers into two
categories, one for Netscape and Mozilla browsers and a catch-all for
other browsers including Opera. Netscape/Mozilla browsers gained the
most, rising 1.7 percentage points to 5.2 percent, while the category
that includes Opera's browser rose 0.1 percentage points to 1.1 percent.
Mozilla itself also is reporting a record number of downloads for the
preview version of Firefox 1.0, which was released Tuesday. In the first
24 hours after posting the Firefox preview, Mozilla recorded 300,000
downloads, the most in a single day for any of its applications,
foundation spokesman Bart Decrem said.
That level of downloads represents 10 percent of Firefox 0.8's total
downloads over its first four months of availability, Decrem said.
Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., downplayed the latest visitor data and
said in a statement that consumers, IT administrators and developers
still view the IE browser as their best choice.
"We certainly encourage customers to examine all browser options, but we
have not seen a significant shift in usage away from IE," a Microsoft
spokesman said in a statement.
But Microsoft's competitors plan to turn up the heat. Mozilla launched a
new grass-roots marketing campaign this week called Spread Firefox, and
the level of traffic to the site has led to sporadic site outages,
The nonprofit also has set a goal of 1 million downloads of the Firefox
preview within the first 10 days, along with a loftier goal of 10
million downloads within 100 days once the final Firefox 1.0 is out
later this year, Decrem said.
"What we're interested in is making sure Web developers and operators of
Web sites program their sites to work with standards," Decrem said. "We
want to make sure that there are enough users out there that [they] are
sure their site renders in Firefox."
Earlier this week, Opera also issued a news release heralding a
recommendation from the German Federal Office for Information Security
that users consider alternatives to IE such as Opera to avoid security
issues. The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team gained widespread
attention in June for a similar advisory.
Microsoft isn't alone in security vulnerabilities. Mozilla itself fixed
10 security issues this week when it released Firefox and updates to the
Mozilla suite and the Thunderbird e-mail client. But Decrem points out
that they were fixed proactively, with many reported in the group's
bounty program that rewards people for finding security vulnerabilities.
For its part, Microsoft has fixed a slew of the security vulnerabilities
that dogged IE in the Service Pack 2 release of Windows XP. But users
continue to wonder about the browser's plans for new releases and features.
Mozilla and Opera, for example, long blocked pop-up ads by default
before IE added the feature with XP SP2. The alternative browsers also
include "tabbed browsing" for viewing multiple pages in the same browser
window, among a host of non-IE features.
In an online chat with users last week, the IE product team provided few
details when asked repeatedly about the types of new features in
development for the browser.
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Copyright (c) 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved.