No let-up in devastating decline of Microsoft's browsers

Desertions from IE continue unabated

Microsoft's browsers continued to hemorrhage users last month, with no sign that the bleeding will stop.

According to Internet analytics vendor Net Applications, the combined user share of Internet Explorer and Edge fell 2.2 percentage points in August, ending the month at 32.5%. It was the fourth month in the last six where IE + Edge lost more than 2 points, and the second-largest decline in the 11-year history of Computerworld's recording of Net Applications' data.

The brutal erosion of Microsoft's browser share has been unprecedented, rivaled only by the plunge of Netscape Navigator, which Internet Explorer dethroned in the second half of the 1990s. In the past six months, IE has lost more than 12 percentage points of user share; since the first of the year, IE has shed 16 points.

If losses continue at the rate of the last eight months, IE + Edge will slide under the 25% bar by the end of the year, Computerworld calculated.

Microsoft's problems holding onto browser users have benefited Google most of all, as the Mountain View, Calif. company's Chrome again added share to its quick-climbing total. During August, Chrome accounted for 54% of all browsers, a 3-point increase over July.

There was no indication in Net Applications' data that Chrome's rise will soon stop, as its gain for August tied for second-largest ever, bested only by May's nearly 4-point boost.

Chrome has passed IE as the most-used browser largely because Microsoft ended support for all but the newest browsers -- IE11 and Edge -- in January. The mandate, which dropped support for some versions of IE years earlier than expected, gave users a choice of upgrading to a newer edition of Internet Explorer (or upgrading to Windows 10 and adopting Edge) or dumping IE for a rival. Millions did the latter, switching to Chrome.

Chrome could be the browser for two-thirds of all users by year's end if 2016's average monthly gain continues.

Mozilla's Firefox has been unable to capitalize on Microsoft's debacle as has Chrome. In fact, Firefox has lost more than a third of its user share since 2016's start. During August, Firefox fell four-tenths of a percentage point, dropping to 7.7%, a low not seen by the open-source browser since April 2005, just months after its official launch. Unless Mozilla can arrest the skid, Firefox could fall below the 5% mark as early as March 2017.

microsoft bleeds browser Data: Net Applications

In the last 12 months, Internet Explorer (including Edge) has lost nearly 20 points of user share, an unprecedented decline that wiped out Microsoft's decades of dominance.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
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