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Mozilla takes bite out of IE

Security concerns drive browser defection

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For the first time since Microsoft saw off rival Netscape in the 1990s Internet Explorer's virtual stranglehold on the browser marketplace has loosened. IE's share decreased slightly from 95.7 per cent to 94.73 per cent in the month up to 6 July, according to Web metrics firm WebSideStory.

Mozilla was the main beneficiary of the defection of one in 100 users from IE. According to WebSideStory, the combined Mozilla and Netscape market share rose from 3.21 per cent in June to 4.05 per cent in July. Although small in percentage terms, a defection of users from IE is something Microsoft ignores at its peril.

"If I'm Mozilla and Netscape, I'm thrilled about this," WebSideStory analyst Geoff Johnston told USA Today. "Here's a sign of a little uprising. It's a hope-generator for the open-source crowd."

A US CERT advisory in June recommending surfers to try alternative browsers in preference to IE because of a serious security flaw has apparently had some effect. Microsoft has issued a workaround but has yet to issue a patch to correct the vulnerability, which creates a means for crackers to load malicious code onto vulnerable machines. It's the latest of a long succession of problems with Microsoft's Web browser software.

Mozilla isn't without its security problems but the developers of the open source browser tend to develop fixes far more quickly. Mozilla is not tied so deeply into Windows as IE and this tends to reduce the scope of any bugs and increase the ease with which they can be fixed. ®

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