Internet Explorer Dips Slightly While IE9 Soars

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The latest data on browser market share is available now from Net Applications. Overall, Firefox seems to be the big winner for the month, but things are still looking good for Microsoft if you dig a little deeper into the numbers.

According to Net Applications, Firefox bounced back from three straight months of decline--gaining 0.35 percentage points to remain in second place with 20.06 percent market share. Safari, Opera, and “other” also had slight increases, while Chrome and Internet Explorer lost market share.

Adoption of Windows 8--with IE10--could drive a spike in IE market share later this year.
Internet Explorer was virtually break-even, though—losing only 0.03 percentage points overall. However, behind the scenes IE9 was a shining star for the month with a gain of nearly a full percentage point.

I’ve pointed out time and time again that Microsoft made a conscious, strategic decision to draw a line in the sand with IE9. Internet Explorer in general is only available for the Windows operating system, so it’s already starting at a slight disadvantage. But, by making IE9 compatible only with Windows Vista and Windows 7, Microsoft eliminated more than half of the traditional Internet Explorer audience.

As the world has finally abandoned IE6 en masse, many of those users are running older versions of Windows so they’ve been forced to choose. If they want to stick with Internet Explorer, they have to go to IE8. Or, if they want a more current, cutting edge browser they have to switch to Firefox or Chrome, or one of the other rival browsers. Many chose the latter, driving IE market share down over time.

The bet seems to be paying off for Microsoft, though. IE9 has consistently done well on the platforms it works with--namely Windows 7, and it continues to gain ground even though it’s only available to a limited audience. As more users migrate to Windows 7, or switch to Windows 8 later this year, IE9—and eventually IE10—could lead a major resurgence of Internet Explorer dominance.

And, Microsoft is getting aggressive about driving users to embrace Windows 8. Microsoft revealed that it will make the Windows 8 upgrade available for a mere $40—even for users of Windows XP. The bargain price is sure to entice users, and it’s only available for a limited time, which should fuel demand for Windows 8 right out of the gate.

If the marketing scheme works, and Windows XP users migrate to Windows 8 in droves, you can expect a spike in IE market share at the end of this year, and the beginning of 2013.

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