IE market share dips below 50 percent

Internet Explorer 9Uh oh. In what sounds like dismal news for Microsoft, its once pervasive Web browser, Internet Explorer, has dropped below 50 percent market share.

This is the first time in years that IE has dropped below 50 percent, stats reported by website-traffic information provider StatCounter. This further highlights the growing fragmentation in the browser market.

Once upon a time, in the 1990’s there were just two browsers competing for your affection: Netscape and IE (granted, there were a few smaller players, but their popularity never uprooted these two giants). The end result was Netscape withering into oblivion and IE grabbing 90 percent of the market.

And then, around 2005, Mozilla Firefox began to gain more momentum with its Web browser, and last year, Google’s Chrome was released and also began to take a piece of the pie. Mozilla and Chrome both capitalized on the fact that IE was slow, unresponsive and largely non-compliant with emerging Web standards.

StatCounter Global Stats found that that Microsoft IE fell to 49.87 percent in September followed by Firefox with 31.5 percent. Google’s Chrome has tripled in adoption since September 2009 going from 3.69 percent in September 2009 to 11.54 percent in September this year.

“This is certainly a milestone in the Internet browser wars,” commented Aodhan Cullen, CEO, StatCounter. “Just two years ago IE dominated the worldwide market with 67 percent.”

Part of the dip in IE’s dominance may be due to Microsoft’s December agreement with European regulators to offer a menu of browser choices to Windows users starting last March.

Microsoft may be down, but they’re certainly not out of the game. IE 9 boasts major improvements to speed and compliant with web standards. Both of the features should make the Web browsing experience much more palatable (dare we say, enjoyable) for IE users. Improving web standards within IE isn’t only a bonus to users, but it makes the job of Web developers much easier.

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