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Microsoft Faces Market Share Erosion on Two Fronts

A pair of reports this week show minor erosion of Microsoft's share in two separate desktop markets where the company dominates.

The trouble spots for Redmond are Internet Explorer and the Windows desktop.

On Monday, the Web analytics provider WebSideStory Inc. released a report showing Microsoft lost a percentage point in market share. Microsoft's Internet Explorer still enjoys overwhelming dominance at 92.9 percent of the browser market, in WebSideStory's Oct. 29 survey. But the latest survey shows a 0.8 percentage point slip since a Sept. 10 survey and a 2.6 percentage point drop since June.

The main gainer in the zero-sum game is the new Mozilla Foundation Firefox browser, which has been available in beta versions for several years and is expected to reach its 1.0 release later this month.

According to WebSideStory, Firefox now accounts for about 3 percent of the browser market. When Mozilla browsers are combined with America Online Inc.'s Netscape Communications browsers, they account for about 6 percent of the market. That's up 2.48 percentage points since September. Browsers from Opera Software and Apple Computer account for an additional 1.1 percent of the browser market.

Meanwhile, the IT publication Client/Server News this week reported that after listening to Microsoft's last earnings call, researchers at Credit Suisse figure that Microsoft has lost 2 percent to 3 percent of its global PC market share.

"If Asia continues to outpace the overall PC market, we believe client revenue growth could consistently underperform PC unit growth," the publication quoted Credit Suisse as writing. The bank attributes the loss primarily to piracy and Linux in Asia.

It is the second time Credit Suisse has published critical conclusions of Microsoft's client business recently. In August, the firm alleged that hefty system requirements for Windows "Longhorn" could create a drag on PC buying in 2006.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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