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IE Market Share Drops Below 70% 640

Mike writes "Microsoft's market share in the browser dropped below 70% for the first time in eight years, while Mozilla broke the 20% barrier for the first time in its history. It's too early to tell for sure, but if Net Applications' numbers are correct, then Microsoft's Internet Explorer will end 2008 with a historic market share loss in a software segment Microsoft believes is key to its business."
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IE Market Share Drops Below 70%

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  • Layoffs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Prysorra ( 1040518 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:08PM (#26294843)

    So....heard that Microsoft might be laying off 15% of its workforce?

    Well.....this might compound that.

    • Re:Layoffs (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anthony_Cargile ( 1336739 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:17PM (#26294915) Homepage
      Oh yes, chairs are a-flying in Redmond now, and if you listen slightly to the West, you just might hear some of them land...
    • Re:Layoffs (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Mad Merlin ( 837387 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:39PM (#26295105) Homepage

      Well, Microsoft would be delighted to hear about the browser stats for Game! [], then...

      Based on unique hits to the front page:

      • Firefox: 69.41%
      • IE: 11.01%
      • Safari: 7.53%
      • Opera: 6.19%
      • Chrome: 4.11%
      • Konqueror: 1.67%
  • Yay! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:09PM (#26294847)

    Let me be the first (?) to say "Yay"!!

    IE has been dominating and destroying the Web for far too long. The lower market share will indicate increased platform diversity and consumer choice.

    • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ConceptJunkie ( 24823 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:35PM (#26295067) Homepage Journal

      Well, I'm not entirely optimistic yet. Sure, Microsoft is losing on features, quality and security... no duh. They are beyond the point where they can actually put out a decent product that doesn't all but collapse under its own corpulence. On the other hand, Microsoft didn't become the biggest and most powerful software company based on features, quality and security.

      Sooner or later they are going to start fighting back (and I don't mean that feeble, half-hearted IE8), and they never fight clean.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I'm fairly sure that you've just written a short introductory speech for Silverlight.
  • Old news (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:12PM (#26294877) Homepage

    This data is a month old. It was discussed on slashdot before (but I don't remember if it got its own article). Why not wait a day or so and post year-end statistics?

    • Re:Old news (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:21PM (#26294957) Homepage

      God, this article must be one of the crappiest in a long, long time. The december figures are already up!

      Browser trends []
      MSIE 68.15%
      Firefox 21.34%
      Safari 7.93%
      Chrome 1.04%
      Opera 0.71%

      Operating system trends []
      Windows 88.68%
      Macs 9.63%
      Linux 0.85%
      iPhone 0.44%

      The two line summary:
      Firefox and Safari both take lots of market share from MSIE which is now way below 70%.
      Macs have a huge one-month (0.8%) and two-month (1.4%) rise while Linux is flatline.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 01, 2009 @09:13PM (#26295417)

        Mac's market share went up more last month alone, than there are people using Linux as a desktop OS altogether (no time frame).

        Just like Opera, which has been stuck at ~0.7% since pretty much forever.

        When you can't somehow manage to give away your main and only product, and most people would seemingly rather pay a lot of money for the alternative (like Macs), you know you have a serious problem.

        Something must suck with your product, when people would rather pay a lot for the alternative than use yours for free.

  • by helixcode123 ( 514493 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:13PM (#26294885) Homepage Journal

    Admittedly, I only use Opera while doing browser compatibility testing for my client-side web apps, but I've always been pretty impressed by it. It's fast and compliant. I think it's a bit of a shame that it is holding such a low share.

    • by freedumb2000 ( 966222 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:24PM (#26294981)
      Yes, I am surprised that even Chrome has a higher usage share, considering Opera is actually a very good and useable browser and has been around for a long time. It would actually be a great all-in-one solution for many since it is a great browser, email client and torrent downloading in one application.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by omglolbah ( 731566 )

      Most of us surf with Opera set to report as IE to bypass unintelligent browser compatibility tests...

      But Opera has one drawback which is Java/javascript handling. It often doesnt handle sites that both firefox and IE handle fine. I dont know which is at fault but it is a pain >.

      All in all though it is a dang nice browser :)

    • by Sparr0 ( 451780 ) <> on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:41PM (#26295125) Homepage Journal

      Considering Opera's install base on mobile devices I would expect that number to be much higher. Considering its common configuration to mis-identify as IE to avoid website misbehavior, I predict that that number is seriously under-representative of the true marketshare. Also, never use statistics that are not explained. What does "70%" mean on this chart? 70% of visits (define visits?)? 70% of hits? 70% of unique IP addresses? 70% of traffic?

  • Who's history? (Score:5, Informative)

    by MarkusQ ( 450076 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:18PM (#26294921) Journal

    Mozilla broke the 20% barrier for the first time in its history

    It's been renamed several times, somewhat refactored, had a few parts replaced and a lot more added, but that code base was once the most popular browser on the planet.


  • 3 options (Score:5, Interesting)

    by larry bagina ( 561269 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:18PM (#26294923) Journal
    Looks like MS has 3 options:
    1. Accept their falling marketshare (good for everyone)
    2. Provide substantial IE improvements to regain marketshare (good for everyone)
    3. release a "bug fix" that just happens to fuck up firefox
  • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) * on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:26PM (#26295001)

    This is really not a surprise. IE is an inferior product. It always has been. The market share it has received is solely attributable to the bundling with the Microsoft operating systems.

    When people become savvy enough to realize there is a choice and be able to find and implement that choice.... they do. I have been trying to get all the offices, clients, etc. that I have worked with to switch to Firefox since.. well forever. It's more secure.

    Now, I realize that there might be some MS fanboys out there to argue that point, but you have a lot of work to do. IE is horrible at security. It is almost as if they just don't care. I am willing to admit that IE is a bigger target, but that does not excuse Microsoft's behavior with it.

    The greatest setback that Firefox, and others have is that Microsoft does not play nice with the world community. Until recently there have been a huge number of websites that will only work with IE. That is slowly changing now too. No longer are consumers and business customers chained to IE because Firefox cannot work with their website that they need.

    The only direction IE ever could go was down. If Microsoft wants to change that then they need to do some serious work and start cooperating with the rest of world. Build a better product is the simplest way to put it.

    In the end it will Microsoft's hubris that pushes IE into the minority.

    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:39PM (#26295109) Homepage Journal

      Well, IE is like US cell phone service. It's all about controlling the customer.

      I recently bought a Windows smartphone (I have Windows CE apps I need to run). It's a pretty good phone (which is most important), and it wouldn't be a bad platform except that what the product wants to be is grossly distorted by the priorities of the carrier. It's locked down so you have to buy apps through the carrier (although I fixed this with some registry edits). In many other subtle ways, a product that could have been pretty good is undermined by the desire to funnel the user into the carrier's other products.

      Things would have been better for the consumer if we'd adopted GSM at the outset like Europe and you could buy any phone and pop your SIM into it. Then the features of phones would be driven by making the best possible phone, not driving additional revenue to the carrier.

      It seems to me IE is much the same. It doesn't implement standards very well, because that's bad for Microsoft. MS offers developers a carrot and stick: a nicely interlocked set of development tools that drive products into an MS only stack, and then the stick of incompatibility when you use non-MS software. It's predicated on promoting a world in which MS controls the software ecosystem.

      The reason IE has been bad at security is that once MS cut off Netscape's air supply, making the best browser has not been the focus of the development efforts. It's been keeping an MS only product stack the path of least resistance.

    • by narcberry ( 1328009 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:45PM (#26295163) Journal

      I've got a coworker that is an IE fanatic. He keeps pointing out that IE uses less memory than FF, he's right. He also tallies up whenever I complain of a crash vs when he complains of one... and he's winning (as in fewer crashes).

      I love being anti-m$, but you can't just dismiss their product as second-rate because you want it to be.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        ...I imagine that you and your co-worker aren't doing the exact same things. For example, if you go to different sites, or the same site with different ads, memory usage and crashes are going to be totally different. Then there is the issue which is the problem with about 95% of Firefox crashes, Flash and Java. Unless you have the exact same Flash and Java versions thats also going to make a world of difference.
      • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @09:31PM (#26295519)

        I've got a coworker that is an IE fanatic. He keeps pointing out that IE uses less memory than FF, he's right. He also tallies up whenever I complain of a crash vs when he complains of one... and he's winning (as in fewer crashes).

        I love being anti-m$, but you can't just dismiss their product as second-rate because you want it to be.

        Part of the equation is where the dividing line falls between IE and Windows (this all came out during the antitrust hearings). Many libraries that used to be part of IE are now part of Windows instead. When you say "IE uses less memory than Firefox", you aren't seeing those significant chunks of IE that are basically running all the time that Windows is running.

        As a web developer, I can tell you from experience that IE is indeed inferior ("second-rate", to use your term) to most other browsers out there. Sure it renders HTML just fine; but its support for the document object model, cascading style sheets, and dynamic html is significantly lagging both Gecko (Firefox's engine) and Webkit (Safari, Chrome), and probably Opera's as well. Part of the problem is - as others have pointed out - it hasn't been in Microsoft's best interest to implement full support for these standards; until recently it tried to drive developers to using MS-only implementations in ActiveX or Javascript to accomplish the same functionality. But now with IE's share dropping, MS apparently is starting to realize they need to catch up if they want to stay in the game as apps move into "the cloud".

        In my mind IE 8 is going to be the real determining factor as to whether Microsoft really "gets it" or not. Prior to IE 7's release we heard a lot of hype regarding how its development was being driven by Microsoft's new commitment to standards; only to be disappointed at all the things it still didn't do. Now they seem to be saying "this time it's for real" - we'll see. I am hoping it's true, because I'm tired of basically doubling my coding time just to work around IE's current shortcomings.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MacDork ( 560499 )

          Sure it renders HTML just fine

          IE cannot even render the <q> tag correctly. That has been standard for more than a decade and would be _brain dead easy_ for them to support.

          But now with IE's share dropping, MS apparently is starting to realize they need to catch up if they want to stay in the game as apps move into "the cloud".

          The cloud, web 2.0... all just market speak. It's still just web hosting and javascript. What I see happening is the acceptance of "graceful degradation." The idea is that you create something and allow it to 'degrade gracefully' on browsers that cannot render things correctly. That's developer speak for "fsck IE. Were done supporting Microsoft's old and bus

    • This is really not a surprise. IE is an inferior product. It always has been. The market share it has received is solely attributable to the bundling with the Microsoft operating systems

      This is not true at all. IE 1, 2 & 3 were not as good as Netscape Navigator and they suffered, but IE 4 was hands down better than other browsers. It mainstreamed a fully programmable DOM, where Netscape Navigator had what, document.write, and a bunch of junk about layers.

      And, while we lament the death of Netscape, you do have to remember that while free IE may have killed Netscape on the client side, I'd be willing to bet that Apache utterly crushed Netscape on the server side. Does anyone remember Netscape web servers? Ah, that's a big negative. I remember even in the late 1990s our Sun admin was looking to replace Netscape web server with Apache... him and others like him really finished that company off.

      The only direction IE ever could go was down. If Microsoft wants to change that then they need to do some serious work and start cooperating with the rest of world. Build a better product is the simplest way to put it.

      This is very true. But you have to understand that the counterpoint to Microsoft's strategy is to get people to think about rich clients again and they are actually being rather successful with VSTO and Excel integration. I see lots of contract work with Excel front ends, instead of web front ends, these days. It's a crappy technology, but businesses pay for it.

  • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:35PM (#26295063) Homepage

    I think just about everyone in tech, outside of Microsoft, saw this coming. Instead of adopting inclusive standards, MS opted for exclusive, proprietary technology and then implemented it poorly. ActiveX, VBScript, .NET...all require Windows and IE to work right. They tried to tie their OS to the development environment, the server environment and did everything they could to try and force the client as well.

    IE was a stagnant, monolithic bug farm that lacked imagination and, perhaps most desperately, innovation. How many Firefox add-ons would be hard to live without? NoScript, FlashBlock, FireFTP there are dozens of applets that let you customize your browsing experience to your preference.

  • by billsf ( 34378 ) <> on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:52PM (#26295207) Homepage Journal

    Somehow I must question those surveys. While quite a number of people I know use Windows, almost no-one I know actually uses IE as their default browser. Unfortunately severely insecure features of IE, like ActiveX, are needed to upgrade Windows. I'm sure Mozilla is capable of making its own 'ActiveX', but I guess they'd be sued as we are talking essentially American businesses. As we all know, it is rather difficult to remove IE from Windows. Clearly, the best option is the trend: Abandon Windows!

    Any hacker can make their Firefox (or Opera) look like IE or any other browser. For instance, I don't use "Flash", but while I use FreeBSD, the scripts say its "Flash-10" on "IE-7" on Windows. Perhaps I should have some pride and tell the truth? I'm using Firefox, but I'm not sure that Firefox is what I have set in my proxy. Let me explain. Ikea, in Holland, gives you a 5% discount if you order with IE. Of course I'm not going to fire up Windows to order from Ikea! So, I simply "lie" and take 5% off.

    If IE has up to 70% market share, its simply because Windows doesn't allow you to choose your browser like any other system does. If they did, they could just as well throw in the towel on IE. The percentage that use Windows is suspect too. Maybe some have it on hand just for an application or two? I know for a fact that many Windows desktops are running in Linux. (Doesn't an Xterm look great on a Windows desktop? ;)

    Finally: (Taco) How many more people say they use Firefox on Slashdot than your logs indicate? I think you see what I mean.


    • by Tubal-Cain ( 1289912 ) * on Thursday January 01, 2009 @09:14PM (#26295423) Journal

      I'm sure Mozilla is capable of making its own 'ActiveX', but I guess they'd be sued as we are talking essentially American businesses.

      More important is the fact that ActiveX is a BAD IDEA.

    • by fabs64 ( 657132 ) <beaufabry+slashdot,org&gmail,com> on Thursday January 01, 2009 @09:25PM (#26295481)

      Ikea, in Holland, gives you a 5% discount if you order with IE. Of course I'm not going to fire up Windows to order from Ikea! So, I simply "lie" and take 5% off.

      Seriously? That is really freakin weird. Got any (english) links? Not disputing, just curious.

    • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <todd DOT bandrowsky AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday January 01, 2009 @09:50PM (#26295657) Homepage Journal

      Everyone trashes Active X as a security problem while Mozilla plugins get a pass and this is rather silly. The essence of both is that you download a DLL and it runs arbitary code in the process space of the browser (and then hence, often the user). Active X is just a different way of talking to the DLL, nothing more.

      If you can run flash plugins, java plugins, and other plugins, inside of a browser, they can and will have the same security problems that plague Active X. It's random binary code that a user gets off of the internet.




      • by Alex Belits ( 437 ) * on Thursday January 01, 2009 @10:54PM (#26296175) Homepage

        1. ActiveX is an all-encompassing Microsoft object-handling infrastructure (descendant of OLE, DDE, COM and DCOM) that is also implemented as a part of remotely-installable code in a browser. A page with ActiveX controls can only work if ActiveX controls are allowed to run in a browser, and Windows permission models prevents any kind of isolation, so this technology is inherently insecure regardless of the purpose of the controls.

        2. Mozilla plugins are applications that use browser's interface model. They can be installed or uninstalled to view various kinds of data identified by MIME Content-Type. Same type of data can be handled by different plugins or external applications, and pages can easily make plugins-supported data optional. Also it's important that page is not tied direcly to any executable code -- user has to install plugin like any other application.

        The only plugin that was ever used for control of navigation was Flash -- and the idea became very unpopular very soon because it lacks browser-provided infrastructure (history, bookmarks, cookie management). On the other hand, ActiveX is primarily used for either highy intrusive things that are meant to break security models (Windows updates, antiviruses, not to mention viruses and worms themselves) or serve as a replacement for IE abysmal support for scripting and interactive graphics.

        • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <todd DOT bandrowsky AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday January 01, 2009 @11:32PM (#26296447) Homepage Journal

          At the end of the day, both IE Active X controls and Mozilla plugins have the same fundamental problem. They are native code DLLs, and so, cannot be verified so easily by the browser when downloaded and so a user could always install a plug in, when running as administrator, that could call DeleteFile or any other Windows API.

          The most interesting promise in plugins is Google Chrome, which allows for verifiable native code and thus sandboxing of plugins. However, as you already pointed out, this only really matters because, you can't set ACLs to functions under Windows, only to users.

          The ideal mechanism for DLLs, that is internet safe, would be to be able to say that a caller could specify the permissions of the DLL when it was running. So, if I were writing a FireFox or an IE, or some sort of internet loadable thing, I could say, yeah sure, go ahead and let me load up this DLL, and I'll just tag it so that it can only call a certain set of Windows OS functions, and for that matter, only a set of Windows OS functions with a particular set of handles. Like, the DLL's functions could only call GDI functions with the DC I supplied. I would also like to say that the DLL could only access certain pages of memory. For that matter, I would like to be able to do that to my own application, so that, a buffer overrun or some other malicious code couldn't do anything... other than hose me myself, and even then, my own internal states and document would be protected.

          I would bet that you could hack some of this into Windows, basically by modifying the way GetProcAddress and LoadLibrary worked. To LoadLibrary you could add a permissions mask that would, for that HINSTANCE, modify how that library's GetProcAddress worked. So, if loaded up a library, I could set it up so that when it called GetProcAddress, to say, find out where DeleteFile was, it would instead redirect itself to my sandbox chumpy saying that this was a no-no.

          This would improve matters, but it would not be perfect. Ultimately, I think, the whole mechanism of a function call would need to have an associated "allowed" set of function calls be associated with it. IF there was maybe some chumpy in the kernel that would say, "just block all these syscalls", but even then, that would only address the file system type of stuff, which is good, but you also want to use that mechanism to cover everything else. It may well turn out that everything has to be a file in order to make this sort of safe and securable sandboxing actually work.

          I guess my question to Linux people would be, doesn't Red Hat have something like this in its enhanced security? Like, you can at least tag applications with permissions but could it work with function calls?

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Alex Belits ( 437 ) *

            Under systems that use X11 the solution is trivial -- plugin is a wrapper that runs a separate process under another user ID, embedded in a window. Then plugin's permissions can be pretty much anything configured for that user (plus anything configured with capabilities if anyone would bother using them). X11 controls access to display, filesystem controls access to files, capabilities control everything else, with all kinds of combinations.

            I don't think, anyone bothered to go that far, however nspluginwrap

  • by voss ( 52565 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @09:11PM (#26295387)

    Safari does not, if you notice the marketshare for various versions of safari 96%+ of safari users are using Mac versions.

    Firefox has been just about the most successful open source project in history, it has broken beyond the geek domain to the general public. It addressed a need for a reasonably secure easy to use web browser. It runs mostly the same on mac or windows or linux so so people can let their friends use it and they comfortable and familiar with it.

    People who would never touch linux see firefox and they will say "Hey can I use your internet" they dont know its linux and they dont care.

  • You'll see WAR (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @09:14PM (#26295421) Journal

    Microsoft will not take this lying down. When Java started eating into VB, Microsoft plunged tens of billions into dot-net, and for the most part stopped the bleeding.

    A focused MS can produce like nothing else. Prepare to see gobs of features added to IE. It will be comparable to making Emacs look like Notepad when the dust settles.

    IE has stayed mostly the same for most of the decade. This is probably about to change. They'll probably add music and video managers, spell-checkers, text-box history savers, better widgets such as editable data grids, email/Outlook integration, history searching, Google-like hard-drive searching, kitchen sink, etc.

  • by DavidD_CA ( 750156 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @09:17PM (#26295443) Homepage

    More and more people are buying iPhones (and other handhelds) and using them to surf the web.

    Not to replace their normal browsing, just to browse the web more.

    This report is very slim on details (it doesn't even say where the metrics came from), but I'm going on a hunch here that it's not so much Firefox is gaining in popularity, but that overall usage of the web is increasing and moreso with devices that IE is not on.

    Some simplified math: If 8 people use IE and 2 use Firefox, IE has an 80% share. Now add 2 more people to the party, both on iPhone/Safari, and IE's market share drops to 66%.

    I honestly don't think Firefox is making a dent in IE for the desktop, when you compare it to the beating it's taking elsewhere. It's clear that Microsoft, if it wants to retain dominance in the browser market, needs to do something with the handheld sector and quickly. PocketIE is great for sites that are mobile-ready, but for everything else it lacks and is driving people away.

  • by Tumbleweed ( 3706 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @10:22PM (#26295909)

    since Windows 7 is getting rave reviews, once it comes out, IE marketshare will go back up, I'm guessing. *shrug*

  • by asa ( 33102 ) <> on Thursday January 01, 2009 @10:53PM (#26296171) Homepage
    I've just posted December and 2008 total stats for all of the browsers along with a bit of analysis. IE lost another point and a half of share in December and will finish the year down almost 8 points from where it started the year. That's not just bad, that's awful, horrible, really really bad. It's especially bad considering that 2008 was a record year for new PC sales, with ~300,000,000 new PCs shipping with IE7 as the default browser!! They shipped 300 million copies of IE as the default and still lost 8 points of share during the year. More at my blog (it really is worth reading if you're interested in this topic. i promise.) Browser Market Share for December and 2008 [] - A
  • by Kartoffel ( 30238 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @11:26PM (#26296401)

    Are you sure *MARKET*share means what you think it does? Microsoft only "sells" IE as packaged with XP, Vista and Windows Mobile. Few customers license the Trident layout engine. It's no wonder IE has shit for marketshare.

    The Mozilla foundation does pretty well for themselves. Not a huge moneymaker but they're afloat and doing ok.

    Opera is also doing great licensing their browser and its components all over the place.

    Internet Explorer simply isn't a moneymaker for Microsoft. Microsoft probably spends more money maintaining IE than they do selling/licensing it.

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan