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IE's Market Share Stabilizes in May

Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser showed a U.S. market share gain in May compared with competing browsers, according to Net Applications.

IE had a U.S. growth rate of 1.3 percent in May, reversing a steady downward trend, according to a June 1 Net Applications report. IE's gain came at the expense of other browsers, such as Google Chrome (-0.4 percent) and Mozilla Firefox (-0.2 percent).

Globally, IE use leveled off in May, holding relatively steady with a 59.7 percent market share. IE previously lost a percentage point of market share each month. Use of IE had dropped from 67.7 percent in July 2009 to 59.9 percent in April 2010, according to Net Applications' stats.

The current IE 8 version was found to be the most used browser globally in May at 25.1 percent. Runners up included IE 6 (17.1 percent), Firefox 3.6 (15.7 percent), IE 7 (12.0 percent), Firefox 3.5 (5.2 percent) and Chrome 4.1 (5.2 percent), according to a Net Applications chart dated June 1.

Use of IE 8 on Windows exceeded 31 percent worldwide, according to June 1 Net Applications research.

As in the past, Microsoft continues to compete against its older browsers, particularly IE 6. Although Microsoft held a mock funeral for IE 6, the browser continues to live on, especially among corporate users.

Microsoft has been encouraging users to move off IE 6, which has had security issues. IE 6 made the news in January for enabling hacking attacks on Google and other companies. Microsoft recommends using IE 8 instead. A Microsoft-funded study even billed IE 8 as the "most secure browser."

Upgrading to IE 8 is easy for individuals to do but many companies that standardized their Web applications on IE 6 have been reluctant to switch. Microsoft is working with enterprises upgrading to Windows 7 to get them off IE 6 too.

"For enterprise customers, they have critical applications with browser dependencies like patient records in a hospital, and we're working very closely with them as part of their Windows 7 upgrades to be planful, thoughtful and deliberate about moving critical apps to Internet Explorer 8," said Ryan Gavin, senior director of Internet Explorer, in a released statement on Tuesday.

Overall, Ryan depicted the move to IE 8 as a gradual process associated with operating system upgrades.

"In the case of emerging markets, most PCs are still on XP, so as Windows 7 momentum continues, we'll see less and less Internet Explorer 6 and more Internet Explorer 8," he stated.

Microsoft is committed to maintaining support for IE 6 until 2014 since the browser's lifecycle is associated with Windows XP's lifecycle. In the mean time, Forrester Research analyst Sheri McLeish calls IE 6 "a fine mess" for organizations.

"Every client I have spoken with in the past months facing this issue is either staying on IE6 or just letting users download an alternative browser, most often Firefox," McLeish wrote in a March blog post. "Virtualization tends to be assessed and dismissed. Most customers say they will eventually upgrade IE, just as they will move to Windows 7."

Getting off IE 6 might be aggravating now, but McLeish doesn't expect that enterprises will make a clean break and abandon using Internet Explorer altogether.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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