Microsoft's browser share slide accelerates as IE9 fails to hold users

One in eight online users now runs Google's Chrome

Internet Explorer's usage share again dipped last month, even as Microsoft's newest browser, IE9, posted record gains, a Web metrics company said today.

Total IE share fell by eight-tenths of a percentage point in May -- the third consecutive month that Microsoft's browser slid by that amount or more -- to end at 54.3%, a new low for Microsoft. The eight-tenths of a point drop was nearly double the average decline over the last 12 months, hinting that IE's decay has accelerated.

Meanwhile, Mozilla's Firefox remained flat last month, adding less than one-tenth of a percentage point to its share of 21.7%, about the same the open-source browser owned in December 2008.

Both Microsoft and Mozilla debuted new browsers in March: The former launched IE9 in the middle of the month, while the latter shipped Firefox 4 a week later.

Neither has materially helped its maker retain or grow share.

Although IE9's share shot up 1.8 percentage points to 4.2%, that wasn't enough to offset the declines posted by other versions. IE8, the browser bundled with Windows 7, lost 1.8 points on its own -- the third month in a row the venerable browser, and the last that will run on Windows XP, lost ground -- while the older IE7 and the ancient IE6 dropped three-tenths and five-tenths of a point, respectively.

Firefox 4 edged above 10% in May, increasing its share by 4.6 percentage points after Mozilla switched on an update offer to users running the older Firefox 3.5 and 3.6 editions.

The numbers for Mozilla's new browser hint at the possibility that it can turn around the company's share fortunes: Small though it was, May's increase in total Firefox usage was its largest gain in more than a year.

As in the last several months, Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari were the beneficiaries of IE's decline.

Chrome boosted its share by six-tenths of a percentage point to end May with a 12.5% share, accounting for one out of every eight browsers used during the month.

Safari climbed by more than a point to 7.3%, largely on the backs of the iPhone and iPad, which continued to log gains in usage. Next page

Browser share chart
IE share has continued to slide during the last 12 months. (Data: Net Applications.)
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