With Microsoft poised to release its first major Web browser upgrade in several years, the company got some unexpected good news: Internet Explorer (IE) actually picked up some market share in the most recent quarter, reversing a trend in which competitor Mozilla Firefox was nipping at IE's heels.
According to analysts at Web metrics firm OneStat, IE picked up 2.8 percent of the Web-browser market share between July and September 2006, and Firefox's market share dropped 1.4 percent during the same period. IE had never really lost a huge amount of market share to Firefox, but Firefox had been picking up market share at IE's expense fairly consistently for about a year and a half. OneStat said that IE currently controls about 85.9 percent of the overall browser market, compared with about 11.5 percent for Firefox.
Despite the dip in Firefox's market share this quarter, the browser continues to rack up impressive numbers for an alternative product that was developed almost solely by Internet enthusiasts. Firefox is the number-one browser in countries such as Australia, Germany, and Italy, where it commands between 21.6 and 33.4 percent of the market. In the United States, Firefox is second to IE, with 14.88 percent of the Web browser market.
Although there are other Web browsers out there, all of them are inconsequential from a market-share perspective. For example, Apple's Safari browser, which is available only to Mac OS X users, fell 0.2 percentage points to 1.6 percent of the Web browser market.
Microsoft is set to release IE 7.0 some time this month: the company previously stated that it would release IE 7.0 in the fourth quarter of 2006, around the same time it completed Windows Vista. Microsoft plans to complete Vista between October 18 and November 8, depending on how its final antibug crusade goes.