Over 2.6 million people visited the Firefox website to download the open source browser in March, according to newly published data from Nielsen//NetRatings.
Men were responsible for 71 per cent of the downloads, and the data analysis firm identified the typical user of the browser as an early adopter of technology and gadgetry.
"The search for an alternative browser has grown in recent years as the internet's early adopters have begun to think of the browser as something other than a commodity," said Ken Cassar, director of strategic analytics at Nielsen//NetRatings.
The research company declared that Firefox is here to stay and that the world has entered a dual-browser era, ending Microsoft's Internet Explorer domination. Developers of websites will have to adopt to this new balance, according to Cassar.
The download statistics do not all translate into new users for Firefox, however. The open source project has fixed security flaws in the software during the past month and required users to download and reinstall a new copy of the software to protect themselves.
Firefox 1.0 was launched late last year and is now the second most popular browser in the market, according to past surveys. This rise has caused Microsoft's share to drop below 90 per cent for the first time.
Users generally cite the increased security and enhanced functionality in Firefox as reasons for switching.
Microsoft has sped up development of the new version of Internet Explorer, with a beta promised for mid-2005.
Microsoft claims that the early release of the project is unrelated to Firefox's rise, but instead aims to increase the security for its users.
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