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Microsoft has seen its grip on the global browser market share loosened by nearly 12 per cent since March, according to one web monitoring firm.

Statcounter spun out the latest results over the weekend. It found that Microsoft’s combined market share of Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8 had slipped, even as the software giant’s most recent browser release pulled in 11.07 per cent worldwide in the past three months since it landed.

Internet Explorer’s total market share has significantly fallen 11.4 per cent since March, when Microsoft released IE 8, as people scramble to try out rival browsers.

Since then Google has brought out a new beta of its Chrome browser while Apple delivered Safari 4 in June, and just last week Mozilla’s Firefox 3.5 finally rocked up on the interwebs.

So far, web surfers have downloaded Firefox 3.5 more than 15.2 million times according to Mozilla’s worldwide real-time stats.

Users have also been abandoning earlier versions of Internet Explorer in favour of version 8 of Microsoft’s browser.

IE 7’s market share dropped from 39.01 per cent in March to 29.97 per cent as of yesterday.

But it’s fair to say that much of the data available on how the different browsers are shaping up is still in flux following major releases from the big name players in the past three months.

Indeed, web stat house Net Applications has acknowledged that fact by pointing out that its browser stats for June remained “under review” while it probes “significant variations in browser… statistics. The reports will not be available until we complete our review.”

It's also unclear at this stage how much Firefox 3.5 upgrades will upset the applecart over at Redmond towers. One thing is for certain - the race to be the king of browsers is well and truly on. ®

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