IE8 cuts into IE7's market share, Firefox unscathed

As Microsoft's new browser climbs, an older edition falls, says Net Applications

Market share gains made by Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer 8 browser during its first full week after release came almost exclusively at the expense of IE7, Web measurement firm Net Applications Inc. said today.

Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based Net Applications' conclusion mirrors that of StatCounter, an Irish metrics company that made a similar observation a week ago.

During the week of March 22-28, IE8 accounted for 2.55% of all browsers used to reach Net Applications' clients' Web sites, said Vince Vizzaccaro, the company's executive vice president of marketing. "It appears that that came almost entirely from IE7," Vizzaccaro said. "The drop for IE7 last week almost correlates exactly to the rise in IE8."

According to Vizzaccaro, IE7's average share of the browser market fell 2.4 percentage points from February to last week.

Microsoft's even older IE6, a browser launched in 2001 several months before the equally ancient Windows XP operating system debuted, slipped only slightly, said Vizzaccaro, who noted that IE6 has been steadily sliding in any case. "IE6 had 18.85% share in February, but last week it was down to 18.28%," he noted.

Mozilla Corp.'s Firefox wasn't affected at all, and, not surprisingly, neither was Apple Inc.'s Safari, which gets the vast majority of its share from Mac users, who are unable to run IE8 unless they have Windows installed in a virtual machine or in a separate partition using Boot Camp.

"Firefox still went up a little bit," Vizzaccaro said, "though maybe not as much as it would have if IE8 hadn't come out. And I don't think it affected Safari at all."

IE8's share trend line has shown a slow but steady increase since Microsoft shipped the final version March 19. On March 23, for example, Net Applications reported that IE8 had a 2.1% share; a week later, on March 30, that share had climbed to 3%.

It's not surprising that IE8's users would come predominantly from IE7's pool, especially early on, Vizzaccaro said, since IE6 users are often locked in to that browser because they're required to use it at work. "Most of the people using IE7 will be coming from IE8 for a while," he said. "Frankly, I like it. I've been a longtime Firefox user, and I'm trying to use IE8 half the time to give it a fair chance. Its features are great, and although it doesn't seem any faster, it doesn't seem any slower, either."

Net Applications will be publishing its final March market share numbers tomorrow on its Web site.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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