A new month means new Web browser statistics, the last of 2011. As we close out the year, Internet Explorer as a whole is down for the year, but the good news for Microsoft is that Internet Explorer 9 continues to gain ground on Windows 7, which is essentially the only OS the browser works with anyway.
In the grand scheme of things, 2011 hasn’t been all that kind to Internet Explorer. Microsoft’s browser has lost nearly 10 percent of its market share to finish the year with 52.64 percent of the market. Contrast that with Google’s Chrome--the big winner for 2011--which has gained more than seven percentage points and is poised to overtake Firefox as the second-place browser. Actually, by some measures Chrome is already number two.
Microsoft doesn’t seem concerned, though, about the declining market share. It is playing the long game, and for now it is more than satisfied to see that IE9 is on its way to becoming the big fish in the small pond that it swims in.
In an Exploring IE blog post, Roger Capriotti, director of Internet Explorer marketing for Microsoft, says, “IE9 usage share on Windows 7 worldwide is now higher than all versions of Chrome and all versions of Firefox--second only to IE8.”
Taking a closer look at the trends for the specific versions of Internet Explorer, it is easy to see why Microsoft is optimistic. Internet Explorer 8 dropped 7.43 percentage points of market share since the beginning of the year, but Internet Explorer 9 has gained 9.73—a net increase of 2.3 percentage points if we consider just the most current versions of Internet Explorer.
Where Microsoft lost some ground is the campaign to extinguish outdated, legacy versions of Internet Explorer--primarily IE6. Sadly, IE6 only dropped 3.87 percent in 2011, and still maintains a position in fourth place behind IE8, Chrome 15, and IE9. But, where Microsoft ends up shedding market share is that users pushed off of IE6 generally have older operating systems, and can’t switch to IE9 so they look to alternate next-generation browsers like Chrome and Firefox.
The days of Internet Explorer having a virtual monopoly of the browser market are long gone, but IE9 is on pace to be the number one browser for Windows 7. As Windows 7 continues to replace Windows XP, and with Windows 8 and Internet Explorer 10 on the horizon in 2012, the future is looking good for Internet Explorer.