Internet Explorer Makes Surprising Turnaround

Dennis Faas's picture

After several years of trending market share losses by Internet Explorer (IE), Microsoft's flagship browser appears to be winning back some customers. However, experts suggest the resurgence may not represent a permanent reversal of fortune.

Web statistics firm Net Applications now reports that the proportion of web users worldwide who are running Internet Explorer has risen in each of the past three months, while Google Chrome has consistently dropped during the same period.

The recent growth is a notable change in a long-term Internet Explorer trend of losing its dominance over Google's Chrome and Mozilla's Firefox browsers, which for now must be content to vie with each other for the number two spot.

With Internet Explorer in use by 53.83 per cent of web users, worldwide, Microsoft is successfully delaying what once seemed inevitable: a majority of computer users browsing the web with software other than Internet Explorer. (Source:

Figures Based On Large-Scale Sampling

Net Applications produces its statistics on browser usage by gathering all the data it obtains for individual clients, who have installed tracking tools on some 40,000 different web sites. That's enough diversity to convince the company its data is fairly representative of the web as a whole.

The statistics combine the number of users running all versions of a browser. So the fact that Internet Explorer 8 remains more popular than its successor, IE9, the latest version of the software, doesn't count against the trending popularity of IE as a whole.

It's the same with Internet Explorer 6, now vastly outdated and relatively insecure.

While Microsoft is waging a battle to get US users to move away from IE6, that old software nevertheless boosts IE's standing among all browsers, because it is still being used by nearly seven per cent of web surfers, worldwide. (Source:

PC Sales Dip No Killer Blow

The apparent revival of Internet Explorer comes despite two counter-trends that might have damaged the browser's success.

First, the increase in people surfing the web via portable devices such as smartphones and tablets tends to drive users away from IE6, because those devices are much more likely than PCs to use Chrome or Apple's Safari as browsers.

Second, the noticeable dip in PC sales in recent months has dampened sales of Microsoft software, including its browser, which is bundled on most new PCs.

Inexplicably, Internet Explorer's recent resurgence has come without as much as help as the software usually receives from new machine sales.

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