Anyone who was using the Internet in the early-to-mid nineties will remember the Netscape vs Internet Explorer browser wars. Oh…the good old days of having to initiate your Windows 3.1 dial-up connection before launching Trumpet Winsock. But I digress! Unsurprisingly for anyone who knows me, I held on to using Netscape Navigator & Communicator for as long as I possibly could, before giving in to Internet Explorer. Yet again, “standards” were being set – not by technical superiority, but by the sheer might of one company’s dominance on the desktop.
That’s not to say that Navigator/Communicator was always superior to IE. Initially, yes – but I abandoned using Navigator when it was renamed to Communicator. At this point IE was significantly better and didn’t produce a BSoD as soon as I started working on something important! Later I switched to Mandrake Linux on my desktop and used Konqueror instead. Now, my daily browser is the spiritual successor to Navigator – Mozilla Firefox. Not only is it extremely fast at rendering pages, it’s compact and very stable. IE is installed, but is reserved for checking how a page renders to ensure that my stylesheets are correct.
It seems that I’m not alone in my decision to change browsers. A recent story on Slashdot regarding IE’s apparently reducing market share shows that the Browser Wars are definitely not over – just the names have changed, well…one of them has, anyway. The story reported that IE’s market share appeared to have dropped from 64% to 56% in just over a month! Wikipedia shows IE holding 65.5% of the market with Firefox at 22.1% as of May 2009.
The question is, though, what is IE’s actual market share? Where are the most accurate figures for browser usage? Where can you find statistics that reflect what’s happening in the real world? I’m sure the answer is on the tip of your tongue, but I’ll say it anyway – the access logs for www.mattrudge.net of course!
Firstly – I don’t usually access or look at my own website, so the figures aren’t skewed by my visits, but the statistics for July 2009 are surprising: Firefox accounted for 51.4% of visits, Internet Explorer 33.1%. Other browsers, such as Konqueror, Safari, Chrome, Opera, iBrowse and Netscape Navigator 5 (?) made up remaining 15.5%.
For June, the figures were completely reversed with IE showing 51.7% and Firefox 26.6%, and for the year-to-date, IE is at 45.8% and 31.6% for Firefox. There were also 25 visits from a lunatic using Netscape 1.0! Whilst visits to mattrudge.net have increased since 2008, the percentage of visits from IE users has steadily decreased.
Whether these statistics reflect what’s going on in the real world or not, I don’t know – maybe it’s just that IE users have better things to do with their time than visit my little corner of the web. What these and other statistics do show, however, is that for the first time in many years, there is a credible (and highly recommended) alternative to IE.