IE usage drops to record low, could fall below 50% by March

Depending on how you look at it, Internet Explorer is either getting off to a great start in 2012, or it's doing abysmally. Despite IE9's growing market share on PCs running Windows 7 and Microsoft's positive spin, IE as a whole continues to decline, while Chrome is growing rapidly – in fact, Computerworld reports that IE dropped to a whole new low in December via Net Applications.

Last November, Microsoft's Internet Explorer blog predicted that IE9 would be the number 1 browser on Windows 7 by the start of the new year, and it has indeed lived up to this prediction. When it made the prediction, Microsoft said that IE9 usage on Windows 7 had already surpassed all versions of Chrome and Firefox, and was second only to IE8.

Sometime in December, IE9 surpassed IE8 as the most used browser on Windows 7 PCs in the US, and was at about the same level worldwide. While this might seem like good news for Microsoft – they're often their biggest competitor – the other browser related news isn't so rosy.

IE as a whole, meaning every version of the venerable browser, isn't doing so well. Computerworld is predicting that it might fall below 50% by March, a major blow to the browser that once ruled the Internet. All versions of IE combined lost eight-tenths of a percentage point during December, ending what has been a miserable year for it with 51.9% of the browser market.

Eight-tenths of a percent might not sound like much, but when you consider the scale at which browsers are deployed, it is a larger number than it sounds. Chrome, which is eating up most of IE's lost market share, grew by nine-tenths of a percentage point, now controlling 19.1% of the market, and is projected to hit 20% by February.

Even though Microsoft's own coverage makes it look like IE is doing great in the market, they have to be worried about what is happening. There's no shortage of people out there who think they know how to stop the decline, from more rapid update cycles, an increased mobile presence, or something altogether more radical, but Microsoft needs to do something soon.

Although IE is a part of the Windows operating system, its loss of market share is of far more concern to Microsoft than those of other bundled applications (Windows Media Player, WordPad, and so on). Those applications are essential features to the OS, however if users choose to use competing products, Microsoft suffers no losses, other than the possibility that said users could be drawn into a rival's ecosystem. With browsers, it's a different story.

With Google dominating Chrome and being the default search engine in Firefox, it is Bing's best interest that IE grow. While it might be possible to change the search engine in a browser, there is a large portion of users who use the default option. Some of them prefer it, some of them don't know how to change it, others are just afraid to change. Since Microsoft hasn't been successful in its efforts to become the default search engine in Firefox, and since Bing represents a very important part of their strategy, IE is going to be a major supporting factor in that battle.

In the end, 2012 is going to be a big year for IE, no matter how you look at it. Whether it's going to be a good one or a bad one, though, remains to be seen. It's going to come down to a combination of determining factors to see how things play out: Windows 8 and IE10, Windows Phone 7 and the mobile market, and the performance of rival browsers will all play into this epic struggle.

Image courtesy of Microsoft

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Hackers blast off into space

Next Story

Windows Phone unlock tokens sold out

146 Comments

View more comments

Coi said,
...

Adblock as an addon can do more stuff, tbh. That's not to say it's more useful stuff that makes a difference for everyone, but it does have more flexibility.

Kirkburn said,

Adblock as an addon can do more stuff, tbh. That's not to say it's more useful stuff that makes a difference for everyone, but it does have more flexibility.

Adblock just needs to block ads, nothing more, and that's exactly what IE9's TPL does. Whatever extra functions there are in Firefox' adblock, I'm sure I won't need them. Especially if it's collecting user information, showing popups going ZOMG I BLOCKED AN AD etc...

Or, you could bother to have a look at the feature list.

Like, being able to add and remove items on the fly, frequent list updates, ability to disable on certain sites, view a list of blockable items on a page for quick addition.

Like I said, more flexible. No, you may not require that stuff, but it doesn't mean it doesn't exist or won't be of use to many others.

I see a lot of people moving to Chrome from Firefox and IE. Personally, I prefer Firefox for Windows XP, IE9 for Windows 7. IE8 is quite slow on old machines.

I love all of the negative comments here.

You people are all blind. IE9 is not the same software as IE8 and lower.

You seem to think that it has the same problems as the earlier versions.
Yes I agree that everything pre-IE9 needs to go away.

MS get sh*t on for their legacy, and sh*t on even harder when they try to change and remedy the situation.

Microsoft are the biggest case of damned if they do, and damned if they don't.

Instead of holding on to your decades old bias, wake up and re-evaluate YOUR opinions.
When you do independent research instead of clinging to your FUD thinking you're the Expert in YOUR circle, wake up and learn that computing is evolving, even though you aren't.

dotf said,
I love all of the negative comments here.

You people are all blind. IE9 is not the same software as IE8 and lower.

You seem to think that it has the same problems as the earlier versions.
Yes I agree that everything pre-IE9 needs to go away.

MS get sh*t on for their legacy, and sh*t on even harder when they try to change and remedy the situation.

Microsoft are the biggest case of damned if they do, and damned if they don't.

Instead of holding on to your decades old bias, wake up and re-evaluate YOUR opinions.
When you do independent research instead of clinging to your FUD thinking you're the Expert in YOUR circle, wake up and learn that computing is evolving, even though you aren't.

IE9 UI still sucks horrible, it doesn't have the add-on library to compete with Chrome/FF and too many people have been burned by IE in the past to consider it now.

KingCrimson said,
too many people have been burned by IE in the past to consider it now.

exactly the point I was trying to make, thank you!
Get the FUD out.

dotf said,

exactly the point I was trying to make, thank you!
Get the FUD out.


That's how things worked. Microsoft was arrogant and burned the "Internet Explorer" brand to the ground.

People defended IE7 when it came out. At least it has tabs now.
People defended IE8 when it came. It doesn't horribly screw up CSS as badly as it did before.

Like a hostage with Stockholm Syndrome, you look past your continuous abuse and focus only on the small gestures of kindness.

IE9 sucks, sucks horribly, and sucks in many critical ways. The fact is every version of Internet Explorer to date sucks with it's own special list of flaws. Each one being slightly less horrible than the last doesn't mean they stopped sucking. In fact, it's just more frustrating for web developers, who have to work with multiple versions of IE that are each at a different level of being retarded.

Sorry I'm not optimistic about the new version a piece of software, when the incompetency and insolence of the people who made every version of it has wasted my company's money and ruined my life in countless different ways.

Edited by kayan, Jan 4 2012, 8:15pm :

For some reason neowin mods deleted my post without giving me a reason which is odd but.. What I said was I prefer Chrome (sorry mods but I do) and I find IE/FF doesn't run as fast as what Chrome does for me. I agree though that IE9 is pretty awesome compared to FF

When i first turn on my machine, FireFox (My choice of browser) can take upto 30-40 seconds to actually load up. Yet i still use it, i prefer it.

Google Chrome is faster but i dont like its compatibility with LogMeIn.

WarioTBH said,
When i first turn on my machine, FireFox (My choice of browser) can take upto 30-40 seconds to actually load up. Yet i still use it, i prefer it.

Sounds like you have major problems with your install, tbh. It shouldn't take anywhere near that amount of time.

I've been using firefox since 2005. I'll never return to IE unless they do a major overhaul, and maybe not even then.

Why does Microsoft insist on throwing their money away to create inferior software?

MS could easily stop developing IE's rendering engine, and just make make a custom UI for Webkit or Gecko.

- They would save a ton of money since they wouldn't have to pay developers to work on the rendering engine.
- Every company in the world that develops websites will save money by having one less browser engine to support.
- They could still make Bing the default search engine.
- They would still have complete control of browser UI, complete control of the look and feel of Internet Explorer, so they would still be just as competitive as a unique brand. Only nerds who make websites care what browser rendering engine, to everyone else it would still be a Internet Explorer, just newer and faster and stuff.

Seriously, I see zero advantage to Microsoft in developing their own unique browser engine. Open source browser engines are free, fast, and way better than anything Microsoft can develop, and using them would make Internet Explorer better and have zero negative impact. How come they don't see or choose to ignore this?

Edited by kayan, Jan 4 2012, 7:57pm :

kayan said,
Why does Microsoft insist on throwing their money away to create inferior software?

MS could easily stop developing IE's rendering engine, and just make make a custom UI for Webkit or Gecko.

- They would save a ton of money since they wouldn't have to pay developers to work on the rendering engine.
- Every company in the world that develops websites will save money by having one less browser engine to support.
- They could still make Bing the default search engine.
- They would still have complete control of browser UI, complete control of the look and feel of Internet Explorer, so they would still be just as competitive as a unique brand. Only nerds who make websites care what browser rendering engine, to everyone else it would still be a Internet Explorer, just newer and faster and stuff.

Seriously, I see zero advantage to Microsoft in developing their own unique browser engine. Open source browser engines are free, fast, and way better than anything Microsoft can develop, and using them would make Internet Explorer better and have zero negative impact. How come they don't see or choose to ignore this?

Tell me, why should they drop an engine that works as good as webkit does these days? I'm missing your point here.

alwaysonacoffebreak said,

Tell me, why should they drop an engine that works as good as webkit does these days? I'm missing your point here.

As good as Webkit is quite stretch. At best, I'd say it's as good as Webkit 2 years ago, if Webkit failed at implementing CSS and the DOM correctly.

kayan said,

I see zero advantage to Microsoft in developing their own unique browser engine. Open source browser engines are free, fast, and way better than anything Microsoft can develop, and using them would make Internet Explorer better and have zero negative impact. How come they don't see or choose to ignore this?

They're not ignoring anything, it seems like you've never used IE9, but just came here to go and bash IE because of its old versions. That's really ignorant dude, just like many other people in this thread.
Ignorance is the main problem about wronngly developed opinions these days. People are so quick to judge, but soo slow to correct themselves.

Coi said,

They're not ignoring anything, it seems like you've never used IE9, but just came here to go and bash IE because of its old versions. That's really ignorant dude, just like many other people in this thread.
Ignorance is the main problem about wronngly developed opinions these days. People are so quick to judge, but soo slow to correct themselves.

You know, being mistakenly called ignorant is not nearly as ridiculous or awful as the time I've spent making websites work in IE9. One time I spent hours overcoming an error in its DOM implementation which makes it impossible to read the child nodes of an object tag in IE9. While searching online for a solution, I found a blog entry from a Microsoft developer who worked on IE9, where he said that they knew that this specific glitch existed, and that he just doesn't care enough to fix it. I had to make a completely separate solution just for IE9 that uses global variables to avoid the DOM just to make it work in IE9. Mind you I hate both browser specific code and global variables.

Also, anyone who has spent any time developing for that unapologetically half-assed browser called IE9 knows how annoying it is to try to accomplish anything with its subpar JavaScript debugger and web inspector. These are worse than the developer tools I've seen in any non-IE browser. But I guess some developers are placated just because its JavaScript debugger is no longer giving incorrect line numbers.

The graph indicates that IE has increased from March 2011 (2.5%) to November 2011 (32.5%) in the US ( I think they mean the United States of America).

U.S.A. has 350,000,000 residents and the other 665,000,000,000 live elswhere on this planet called Earth and have or may not have access to the internet and use a browser to surf.

So do we take these statistics as fact, no on your nelly.

leesmithg said,
The graph indicates that IE has increased from March 2011 (2.5%) to November 2011 (32.5%) in the US ( I think they mean the United States of America).

U.S.A. has 350,000,000 residents and the other 665,000,000,000 live elswhere on this planet called Earth and have or may not have access to the internet and use a browser to surf.

So do we take these statistics as fact, no on your nelly.

Your facts are a tad off, there are 6,500,000,000 people on the planet, not 665 (billion), and it doesn't matter the FACT, but I will guarantee USA is only around 3rd maybe even fourth in Internet usage buddy boy, so USA isn't as technology advanced as we PRETEND we are.. other countries are WAY more technology saavy and advanced than USA residents..

rijp said,

Your facts are a tad off, there are 6,500,000,000 people on the planet, not 665 (billion), and it doesn't matter the FACT, but I will guarantee USA is only around 3rd maybe even fourth in Internet usage buddy boy, so USA isn't as technology advanced as we PRETEND we are.. other countries are WAY more technology saavy and advanced than USA residents..

I made a typo, my excuse was I was not using my computer but a University computer in a library I was visiting.

There are 7,000,000,000 ++ people on this planet.

I did notice the error I made plus the missing 't' however the system would not allow me to edit comments.

Who really cares about browsers? If what you WANT to use is IE, that's YOUR choice.. what does a browser REALLY do? It gets you to surf. That's IT. This whole back and forth over who is number one.. has ZERO impact, more users are on the internet than ever before, THAT's what is important.

The tools you use to get there, who cares?!?! Is it REALLY going to affect your browser? NO, so how much do we really care that IE is ahead of Firefox or Chrome. I like Chrome myself, but do YOU really care? NO, and you shouldn't.

It's preference, it doesn't MEAN anything. What's next comparing colors of cars? Is Black getting more attention than Red? Who gives a flip?!? It's a FREE product, enticing users to use it.. just means someone will make more money as a result, but MS is feeling "good" about a browser, when ADS and toolbars work across ALL the browsers the same.. so the end who really wins? Not MS because it's a FREE product, Google is beating the pants off Apple and MS right now with Droid, Appliances, apps, search engines, and cloud.. the important things, Google is laughing.. because eh.. their browser is a measley 15%.. so what? They don't get revenue from it, so a droid user prefers to visit market.android.com with IE.. Google still makes money from everyone. so be it. If you like Firefox on your droid device.. so what?!?!?! You still bought a droid phone, you are buying and using apps from the droid market, more variety equals a better device and that means more people will use it.

I grow tired of these IE is better than, and IE is better that, not sure who you people are, but IE SUCKS! I can take a NEW machine, don't install any 3rd party apps, use IE, it WILL crash inside of 15 minutes, guaranteed. Reminds me.. to install Firefox or Chrome, don't care what you say IE 9 or IE 8 aren't as good as either Chrome or Firefox.. you prefer IE that's wonderful just means you do NOT know what you are missing.

Proof? Extensions.. visit extensions for Chrome and Firefox.. now get some add-ons for IE, tell me which ones are MORE useful and which ones have MORE functionality, I will guarantee it's NOT IE.

Take the MS proprietary junk out of windows within the business world, and that percent will fall to almost nothing. Someone needs to step up and KILL the MS REGISTRY!! Also.. SharePoint=junk (use Google), Forefront=LOL, Exchange=bloat, SQL=mess

Commenting is disabled on this article.