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Nineteen out of 20 surfers use IE as a browser, with Netscape a very distant second, and alternative browsers restricted to use among a small tech savvy niche, according to Web analytics outfit OneStat.com.

OneStat.com found IE 6 global usage has increased with 5.3 per cent from 52.3 per cent to 57.6 per cent since its last study. The global usage share of Netscape 7 has increased with 0.1 per cent from 0.5 to 0.6 per cent over the same time. Mozilla's global usage share is 1.1 per cent and Opera 6 has a global usage of 0.8 per cent.

But could these results underestimate the popularity of alternative browsers?

In October we reported how many mainstream Web sites are difficult, if not impossible, to use by surfers who prefer Opera, Konqueror, Mozilla and other alternative browsers. To get around this problem its common for alternative browsers users to try agent spoofing - a trick which allows Opera users (for example) to present themselves to Web sites as users of IE.

We spoke to a representative of OneStat.com who told us the methodology used in its study takes this factor into account. He added that the firm works closely with Opera, and other alternative browser suppliers, to make sure its figures are as accurate as possible.

OneStat's figures come from a survey of 2 million visitors to sites running Web site services. JavaScript code on these Web sites is used to detect which browser a surfer is using. This is superior to gauging relative browser usage by looking at Web site logs - where figures can be distorted by the use of agent spoofing, OnStat.com argues.

A more detailed breakdown of figures from OneStat.com's survey can be found here. ®

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