Web sites saw visitors deserting Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser in favor of Apple's Safari, Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome in December, according to Web analytics company Net Applications.
Internet Explorer was used by 68.15 percent of Web surfers monitored in December, down from 69.77 percent in November and 71.27 percent in October, according to preliminary figures published by Net Applications on its Hitslink Web site Friday. IE's share has slipped from around 75 percent since the start of 2008.
Safari, Firefox and Chrome all profited from the slide in IE's popularity.
Firefox's share rose to 21.34 percent, from 20.78 percent in November and 19.97 percent in October, while Safari's climbed to 7.93 percent, from 7.13 percent in November and 6.57 percent in October.
Google's Chrome browser topped the 1 percent mark in Net Applications' survey for the first time, with a share of 1.04 percent, up from 0.83 percent in November and 0.74 percent in October.
Opera's share remained steady at 0.71 percent.
Net Applications warned that decreased workplace use of the Internet in December may have biased its results.
"The December holiday season strongly favored residential over business usage. This in turn increases the relative usage share of Mac, Firefox, Safari and other products that have relatively high residential usage," it said.
However, Internet Explorer's market share actually declined more slowly in December than it had done in November, according to the company's figures.
Operating system statistics provided by Net Applications suggest that Macintosh owners are more faithful to the browser provided by their operating system manufacturer than are Windows users. Mac OS market share increased slightly in December to 9.63 percent, from 8.87 percent in November, mirroring the rise in Safari usage. while desktop Linux usage by Web surfers remained steady at 0.85 percent, compared with 0.83 percent in November. Windows usage dipped to 88.68 percent from 89.62 percent in November, a smaller decline than that in IE usage.
Net Applications tracks browsers visiting sites that use its traffic monitoring service, compiling data on around 160 million visitors per month, according to its site.