Nearly four years after Google Chrome became the most-used web browser according to StatCounter, rival metrics firm NetMarketShare has come to the same conclusion.
Both firms now say that Chrome is more popular than Internet Explorer, though their respective percentages vary greatly. According to NetMarketShare, Chrome captured 41.66 percent of desktop browser usage in April, compared to 41.35 percent for IE. StatCounter shows 60.47 percent for Chrome, versus 13.25 percent for IE. (This actually puts Microsoft’s browser behind Mozilla Firefox, which captured 15.62 percent in April.)
Why the discrepancy? As we explained way back in 2012, StatCounter merely samples raw page views across a network of sites. NetMarketShare (also known as NetApplications) measures unique visits, and weighs its data against Internet traffic by country, so areas that are more active on the Internet are better-represented. Both metrics have pros and cons, but Microsoft has unsurprisingly favored NetMarketShare’s data, which for years has maintained that Internet Explorer was the leader.
In fairness, Microsoft itself is now deemphasizing Internet Explorer in favor of Edge, its new browser for Windows 10. But as ZDNet notes, NetMarketShare’s figures for Internet Explorer include usage for Edge, which by itself stands at 4.39 percent. Even worse, data from StatCounter and Quantcast shows that people are abandoning Edge shortly after trying it.
Meanwhile, it looks like Chrome is picking up the slack. Although Google’s browser stands at a crossroads in terms of features and direction, the masses have yet to find an alternative worth adopting.
Why this matters: Edge has gotten better lately, and the arrival of extension support later this year could make it a more practical replacement for Chrome and Firefox. But the latest metrics show that replacing Internet Explorer with a new browser isn’t going to be a cakewalk for Microsoft. Perhaps that explains why Microsoft is forcing the issue, and preventing its Cortana search bar from linking to other search engines and web browsers.