Microsoft’s share of the internet browser market has fallen below 50 per cent, according to the latest data from internet monitoring firm StatCounter.
The company's figures show Internet Explorer (IE) versions globally accounted for 49.87 per cent of users online, with 31.5 per cent using Firefox and 11.54 per cent preferring Chrome. Chrome has been performing particularly strongly, tripling its market share in the past year, StatCounter said.
"This is certainly a milestone in the internet browser wars," said Aodhan Cullen, chief executive of StatCounter.
"Just two years ago IE dominated the worldwide market with 67 per cent."
Microsoft still holds the majority of the browser market in North America with a 52.3 per cent share, with Firefox at 27.21 per cent and Chrome at 9.87 per cent.
Among European users, IE has dropped to 40.26 per cent, something Cullen said was due to the EU’s ruling that consumers must have a choice for their default browser.
“It’s inevitable that you’re going to see a balancing of the market, especially in the EU where you have ballots on browsers,” Al Hilwa, programme director of applications development software at IDC told V3.co.uk.
He said that the StatCounter data was unusual, since most reports suggest Microsoft has around 60 per cent of the market. However, with the growth of mobile internet use and increasing competition, especially from Chrome, Microsoft was destined to lose further market share.
“Chrome is getting some traction. A lot of developers have gravitated towards Chrome as it’s one of the faster browsers out there. Google also has the distribution means to get in front of people,” Hilwa said.
Microsoft i looking to regain the initiative with its forthcoming IE9 release, but faces a problem in that many users still use Windows XP, which cannot run the new browser. Hilwa speculated that the company may have to release a version of the new browser designed for XP users if it gets “spooked” by slow take-up.
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