Net Applications has published the latest monthly browser market share stats. Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser rebounded for the second month in a row, as both Firefox and Chrome declined in market share--led by IE8 which continues to have the most growth and remains the single most used browser.
During the month of July, Internet Explorer market share globally grew by 0.42 percent, while Firefox fell almost a full percentage point, and Google's Chrome Web browser declined by 0.08 percent. Internet Explorer 8 increased by 0.98 percent globally, and went up 1.38 percent to 42.16 percent in the United States.
Microsoft bashers and opponents of Internet Explorer are fond of trying to connect the dots and claim that Internet Explorer market share is what it is because the browser is automatically included with the Windows operating system.
There are a few flaws in this argument. First, Windows enjoys a virtual monopoly on the desktop operating system market with over 91 percent; however, Internet Explorer has less than 61 percent of the Web browser market. There is not a one-to-one relationship between Windows and Internet Explorer despite the inclusion of the browser with the operating system.
Second, at least in Europe, Windows users are offered a menu of choices during installation. With twelve browsers to choose from, Internet Explorer is not automatically installed with Windows, so the success of Internet Explorer in Europe can not be tied specifically with the Windows operating system.
The third and arguably most relevant flaw in the Windows-IE connection is that Net Applications is measuring browser usage, not browser installation. Personally, I have Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome, but I use Internet Explorer as my primary browser. If Net Applications reports that Internet Explorer share is rising, it is because more users are surfing the Web using the Microsoft browser, not because more users bought Windows and had no choice.
It is also worth noting that IE8--the browser with the most market share of all when broken down by version--had already captured almost 20 percent of the market before Windows 7 even launched. Since the launch of Windows 7--which has sold more than 150 million units--IE8 has only grown another 10 percent.
Microsoft's Ryan Gavin points out in an Exploring IE blog post about the latest market share stats that "usage share is simply one of several ways we measure our progress with Internet Explorer. Ultimately, we know customers have a choice when it comes to the browser they use, and that choice has a lot to do with the good work that developers and our partners do to build a better Web with Internet Explorer."
Companies aren't necessarily going to make business decisions based on these statistics, but the data is worth making note of for IT admins that are considering changing the default browser used on company PCs, as well as for developers trying to determine which browser platforms represent the target audience when creating Web sites and applications.