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Users making the switch to cutting edge browsers

Users making the switch to cutting edge browsers

Web browser usage stats highlight a trend across all three leading browsers to transition to the most current version

New Web browser market share stats are out. This past month has seen a decline in the overall market share of the Internet Explorer franchise, but breaking things down by version shows that more users are adopting the latest generation of Web browsers whether it's Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer declined again in overall market share for the first time in a few months. The browser as a whole lost 0.75 percent -- with Internet Explorer 6 dropping 0.63 per cent, and Internet Explorer 7 falling half a per cent. Those losses were offset, though, by yet another significant gain for Internet Explorer 8 -- climbing 1.16 per cent since the last month.

Chrome 6 had by far the largest gain over the previous month, coupled with Chrome 5 taking the most precipitous plunge. Overall, Chrome is up slightly, but that is after a decline of 4.33 per cent by Chrome 5 and a swift rise of 4.66 per cent over the previous month for Chrome 6. Apparently the vast majority of Chrome users willingly embraced the latest browser and made the switch.

Firefox users followed the same trajectory. The use of Firefox 3.5 fell 0.18 percent. However, the latest official release, Firefox 3.6, went up 0.25 per cent, and Firefox 4 -- which is still only in beta -- went up 0.08 per cent.

Even Internet Explorer 9 is riding the cutting edge browser popularity wave. It has only been two weeks since Microsoft publicly launched the beta of Internet Explorer 9 at a media event in San Francisco. In that brief period, though, the beta of Microsoft's next major update to the Internet Explorer Web browser has already been downloaded more than six million times.

In an Exploring IE blog post, Microsoft's Ryan Gavin notes, "Net Applications' browser usage share report released today shows IE9 Beta usage share at 0.25 percent for the two weeks after launch. The tech enthusiast community is observing a notable increase in IE9 activity: LiveSide reported IE9 Beta users accounted for 25 percent of their reader base, IE9 overtook IE6 users at DownloadSquad, and Network World reported poll results showing 47 percent of people intend to try IE9 Beta. Additionally, we saw tweets from the likes of Ed Bott who noticed, "Halfway through Day 1 of IE9 availability, eight per cent of my ZDNet visitors are using the beta. Steady increase all day, higher than IE7.""

Some of that upswing may be a function of the success of Windows 7 and an increase in PC sales. Users who have clung to outdated browsers like IE6 would suddenly have IE8 by default on a new Windows 7 system, and in the event that a user chooses not to use Internet Explorer, the likelihood is that they will install the latest version of whatever browser it is they opt to install.

Regardless, of the reasons behind the numbers, new Web technologies need new Web browsers, so the transition to cutting edge Web browsers benefits developers, as well as everyone else who surfs the Web.

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