Google's Chrome 'in retreat,' says Microsoft

Executive touts IE's gains in the U.S. as Firefox, Chrome both fall

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"Microsoft is doing extremely well with IE8 in the U.S.," said Vizzaccaro in an e-mail today.

"Windows 7 [growth] is certainly part of the reason why IE8 is growing," said Gavin, when asked for Microsoft's explanation of IE's increase in the U.S. "But there is more choice in [the browser] space than at any other time in history," he said, adding that when IE8 goes head-to-head with rivals, such as in Europe, where Windows users have been offered a government-mandated way to change browsers, IE8 does well.

"IE8 grew half a percentage point in Europe last month," said Gavin, to 29.69%.

Besides touting the climb of IE8, Gavin also plugged the success that Microsoft has had in driving down the share of the nearly-nine-year-old IE6, the aged browser that Microsoft has been aggressively urging customers to ditch. He confirmed that one of his tasks is to push IE6's share to zero.

"In the U.S., we're seeing that tip-over [towards zero]," Gavin said, and again credited Windows 7 and IE8 adoption as reasons. Windows 7, the operating system Microsoft launched last October, was the first to include IE8.

Microsoft has made more headway in its "kill IE6" movement in the U.S. than it has globally. According to Net Applications, IE6 accounted for 6.74% of all browsers used last month in the U.S., a number substantially lower than IE6's worldwide average of 17.13%.

The two biggest groups of customers still running IE6, said Gavin, are enterprises having trouble migrating because of mission-critical Web applications or sites that rely on the old browser, and users in emerging and underdeveloped markets. There, the global economic recession and sluggish recovery have stalled efforts to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7.

"We're working very, very actively [to move IE6's share toward zero], but that takes time," acknowledged Gavin. "We're doing a lot of work with partners and developers on educating users to upgrade to a modern browser," he said, pointing out efforts such as the "Adios IE6" campaign now running in Latin America.

A similar campaign in Australia equated IE6 to a carton of long-expired milk. "You wouldn't drink 9-year-old milk," the campaign's marketing copy read in a page that showed a milk carton dated August 2001, the month when IE6 debuted. "So why use a 9-year-old browser?"

The fifth major browser, Apple's Safari, owned a global usage share of 4.77%, up 0.05 of a percentage point, and a 10.38% share in the U.S.

May's browser usage share data is available on Net Applications' 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@ix.netcom.com.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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