Although Microsoft still dominates the Web browser space, its Internet Explorer has continued to lose market share in the USA to open-source rival Mozilla.
Internet Explorer held more than 95 percent of the US browser market for several years, but its share dropped to 94.7 percent in July and had declined further to 92.9 percent on Oct. 29, WebSideStory, a San Diego Web metrics company, said yesterday.
Benefiting from high-profile security vulnerabilities in the Microsoft browser and recommendations by experts to switch, the Mozilla Foundation has seen its market share rise. The Mozilla Suite, Netscape and Firefox held 6 percent of the market at the end of October, up from 3.5 percent in June, according to WebSideStory.
"It is not a fast drop for Internet Explorer, but it might be considered a fast gain for Mozilla," said Geoff Johnston, an analyst with WebSideStory.
Firefox is the Mozilla Foundation's stand-alone browser. The Mozilla Suite includes a browser, email client, internet relay chat client and web page editor. Netscape, distributed by AOL, is based on Mozilla technology. The Mozilla open source project was started in early 1998 by Netscape.
The rise of Firefox has been especially remarkable, Johnston said. It was introduced in February this year when Mozilla renamed its Firebird project.
"It was one thing in July to see Microsoft starting to lose market share for the first time in a trend-like fashion. But we did not know whether it would continue. It has," Johnston said.
Meanwhile, Microsoft delivered some updates to Internet Explorer with Service Pack 2 (SP2) for Windows XP and is working on a new version of the browser that will ship as part of Longhorn, the codename for the next version of Windows due in 2006, a company spokesman said. Also, the Internet Explorer development team at Microsoft has emerged from obscurity by starting a weblog, at http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/.
Microsoft sees the market share fluctuation as the "natural ebb and flow of a competitive marketplace," the spokesman said.
Users who try other browsers ultimately will come back to Internet Explorer, the spokesman said. "As they check out the alternatives, we think they’ll discover that critical factors such as website compatibility, application compatibility and enterprise management and support are just better with Internet Explorer."