Update: Metric firm changes numbers, Chrome still behind Firefox

U.S.-based Net Applications pegged Google's browser as No. 2 earlier today, but later revised the data

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The shift toward IE8 and the abandonment of both IE6 and IE7 may be due to Microsoft's new practice of automatically upgrading older versions. Late last year, the company said it would begin to silently force Windows to upgrade IE to the newest-possible edition, ending a tradition of asking users' permission for such moves.

Beginning in January 2012, Microsoft started upgrading some PCs running Windows XP from IE6 or IE7 to IE8, and swapping IE9 for IE7 or IE8 on Vista and Windows 7.

The process started in Australia and Brazil, and is to gradually roll out worldwide this year, but Microsoft has declined to provide the names of countries where it has switched on the silent IE upgrades.

Apple's Safari lost two-tenths of a point last month to end at 4.6%, while Opera Software's Opera was flat at 1.6%.

StatCounter's conclusions for May were considerably different than Net Applications', as they tend to be.

The Irish company had IE falling by almost two percentage points to 32.1%, while Chrome grew by 1.2 points to 32.4%, making good on reports throughout May that showed Chrome would kick IE out of first place. Firefox, said StatCounter, climbed to 25.6%, while Safari and Opera didn't budge, accounting for shares of 7.1% and 1.7%, respectively.

Net Applications calculates browser usage share by tracking unique visitors to approximately 40,000 Web sites that the company monitors for clients. More browser share figures can be found on the company's site.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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