Microsoft ignores IE slide, touts IE9 success on Windows 7

Chrome on pace to crack 15% usage share by October, Safari continues gains

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The casting of IE9 as "the most popular modern browser on Windows 7" is also peculiar, what with its second-place standing behind IE8, and the earlier contention by the company in 2009 that the then-new IE8 was "a modern version of Internet Explorer."

However, IE9 did pass rivals Firefox and Chrome in usage share on Windows 7 last month for the first time: Mozilla's and Google's newest browsers, Firefox 4 and Chrome 12, accounted for 11.3% and 8.5% of the global Windows 7 market, respectively, said Net Applications.

Microsoft has tied the success of IE9 to Windows 7 -- Vista, which also runs the browser, is closing in on extinction, according to other data from Net Applications -- but the browser's lack of support for the still-strong Windows XP has hampered its ability to become a major player in the browser war.

Worldwide, on all personal computers -- not those running only Windows 7 -- IE9 tapped a usage share of just 5.6% for June, less than Mozilla's almost-retired Firefox 3.6 and Microsoft's own aging IE7, and about half that of IE6, the browser Microsoft has been actively trying to euthanize since 2009.

Until PCs running Windows XP are put out to pasture in favor of ones running Windows 7 or its successors, IE9 will be used by a small percentage of the world's users. And it may never crack the 15% mark, if as most expect, Microsoft launches the follow-on IE10 next spring.

Since IE9's March debut, it's averaged an increase of just over one percentage point a month. Assuming it can maintain that pace -- an iffy proposition, as Microsoft wrapped up the automatic download and installation of IE 9 on Windows 7 and Vista last month -- IE9 will account for 14% of all browsers by the end of February 2012, the month before the anticipated appearance of IE10.

IE10 is now available only in developer preview form; Microsoft shipped the second version of that preview this week.

Analysts believe Microsoft has adopted an annual release cycle for IE -- IE9 appeared a year after IE8, and IE10 development started as soon as the former shipped three months ago -- which would put IE10 on the market in March 2012.

Net Applications calculates browser usage share with data obtained from more than 160 million unique visitors who browse 40,000 Web sites that the company monitors for clients. More browser statistics 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 or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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