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Internet Explorer Losing Market Share

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Browser Share Pie ChartAccording to a report released today by Net Applications, Internet Explorer has continued to lose web browser market-share and it is now holding 68% of the market-share – its lowest share since 1999. This is of special interest to web designers as Internet Explorer, especially version 6, is well know for its poor support for web standards.

The report shows browser usage statistics for the month of December 2008 and demonstrates a continuing rise for Firefox, Safari and the newly introduced “Chrome” from Google, all of which are making a dent into the monopoly held by Internet Explorer.

Comparisons

To help put this in perspective a little it is interesting to note that Net Applications show Internet Explorer holding a 78% web browser market share in 2007, which shows a loss of 10% in one year whilst Mozilla’s Firefox has grown from 14% to 21%.

Of course the above report is most likely based on metrics gleaned from the American market1. For the sake of comparison and analysis of the Irish web browser usage, I have looked at statistics from a high traffic Irish website which attracts a good cross section of Irish web users.

December 2008

10,644 Unique Visitors

  • 71.74% – Internet Explorer
  • 21.63% – Firefox
  • 3.82% – Safari
  • 0.93% – Chrome
  • 0.85% – Opera
  • 0.96% – Miscellaneous Other Browsers

As expected, we see a much higher usage of Internet Explorer in the Irish market. Still it is interesting to note the similar uptake of Google’s Chrome browser. Even though it’s a brand new web browser, the average user  who would never have heard of “other” web browsers have been exposed to Chrome and are willing to test out the experience.

I have a feeling that Chrome will mainly take market-share from Internet Explorer, which is a good thing from a web design point of view. Whilst it does mean that there is another browser to test from a web development point of view, the fact that it runs on WebKit2 means that the differences should be slight.

Reasons to Rejoice

Whilst the statistics shown above may not seem overly thrilling on the outside, with a little bit more investigation the good news for web designers is really starting to become apparent. With Internet Explorer slowly approaching web standards compatibility, the key factor is how quickly we are seeing the demise of the aged Internet Explorer 6 web browser.

IE6 Declining UsageAny new PC’s bought with Windows Vista will come with IE7 as standard. Microsoft has also rolled IE7 out through it’s automatic update process, which means that if a user is happy to accept all updates from Microsoft, then they will inevitably install IE7. Whilst IE7 is not without its problems, it does at least support transparent png’s, which open up a realm of possibilities for web designers.

Net Applications reports that of the overall Internet Explorer usage, IE6 usage has dropped from 30% to 20% over the course of 2008. More importantly the statistics from our Irish source are even more encouraging, with IE6 usage dropping from 49% to 29% over 2008.

It’s next to impossible to account for the amount of lost time ensuring web site compatibility with IE6. So many coding practices that Pixelapes use in designing web sites factor in IE6 limitations by default – but inevitably numerous situations will be encountered during the front-end coding process where the website looks correct in all bar IE6. This results in special coding or adjustment of current code.

So, if you’re one of the 15% of visitors to this website who are still using IE6, please do consider upgrading your web browser. There are many options to choose from and the faster the upgrade happens, the faster we can move on and take advantage of the possibilities that a modern web browser allows.

Upgrade

Try out one of the links below to improve your browser experience. By installing IE7 or IE8 you will upgrade your current IE browser, keeping your bookmarks and saved passwords etc. The other browsers can be installed alongside IE and allow you to test out a new browsing experience – and don’t worry, you can import your favourites, passwords etc, and it won’t affect your IE usage in any way.

Please note that I’m not just extolling this option because it will make my life easier (eventually), but because you’ll find that web pages load significantly faster, you will have a lot more functionality (such as tabbed browsing), and there will be countless improvements of the user interface to help speed up the way you browse the web, and last but not least, you will be using a browser which is much more secure.

I hope you take the opportunity to consider trying out one of these other browsers and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Happy browsing!

  1. I have found it difficult to find information on the sources used for Net Applications statistics
  2. WebKit uses the same rendering engine as Safari

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