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IE market share: What's going on?

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Recent high-profile security problems with Internet Explorer have done little to dent its market share - or maybe not, according to conflicting reports on web browser use.

Web analytics firm OneStat.com reckons that IE's global usage share is 85.85 per cent, an increase of 2.8 per cent since July 2006. Mozilla Firefox's open source browser claims second place with a share of 11.49 per cent, a decrease of 1.44 per cent since July 2006. Apple's Safari claimed 1.61 per cent (down 0.23 per cent), and Opera held 0.69 per cent of the market, according to OneStat latest (October) figures. OneStat.com stats are drawn from visitors to websites that use its web analytics technology.

However, statistics from websites tools firm Net Applications, cited by Ars Technica, paint a contrasting picture. Its figures suggest the browser has only an 82.10 per cent share, its lowest figure for two years, while Firefox is enjoying a share of 12.46 per cent, with Safari in third berth with 3.53 per cent.

Although these figures come from September that doesn't even begin to explain the huge discrepancy between statistics from Net Applications and OnStat.com. Differing methodologies probably lie at the root of these conflicting stats.

Ars Technica reckons a lack of product innovation from Microsoft since the release of Windows XP SP2 almost two years ago explains IE's reported market dip. Word of mouth advocacy of Firefox and a series of high-profile unpatched vulnerabilities affecting IE over recent months might be closer to the mark, we'd suggest.

Even though Firefox is far from immune from flaws, the most serious security flaps often focus around IE, thanks in part to its large market share, but also due to the continued shortcomings of its security architecture, particularly its reliance on Microsoft's proprietary ActiveX technology. ®

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