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Microsoft's web world shrinks

Bing slips, IE slides

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The latest reports are in from the search engine and browser battlefields, and the news isn't good for Microsoft, with both Bing and Internet Explorer continuing to lose market share.

According to the web analysts at StatCounter, Microsoft's Bing search engine continued its worldwide decline in September, down to 2.59 per cent, a slippage of 28 per cent per cent from its peak of 3.59 percent in July.

In the UK, Bing had a minuscule rise during the same period, from 2.78 per cent in July to 2.84 per cent in September. The US, however, followed the rest of the world, with a drop from July's 9.41 per cent to September's 6.43 per cent - a falloff of nearly 32 per cent.

It appears that the honeymoon may be over for Bing. Seeing as how Google's share rose worldwide and in both the UK and US during that period, many users who had a brief Bing fling have returned to their tried-and-true search engine of choice: Google.

The news isn't any better for Microsoft in the browser wars. Web-analytics outfit NetApplications reports that Internet Explorer's market share slipped to 65.71 per cent in September.

To be sure, IE is still the dominant player among browsers, but the trend line is not good for Redmond

Number-two Firefox, for its part, rose modestly to 23.75 per cent in September, up from 23.3 in August. Apple's Safari also bit into IE a wee bit, rising from to 4.1 per cent in August to 4.24 in September, and Google's Chrome moved up from 2.9 per cent to 3.17 per cent.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer feels the heat - but only from Firefox. On Monday, TechCrunch quoted the ever-pugnacious chrome-dome saying this about IE's competition: "Chrome is a rounding error to date. Safari is a rounding error to date. But Firefox is not."

While we might quibble that the Safari and Chrome total of 7.4 per cent - being 11 per cent of IE's market share - is hardly a rounding error, we won't contest Ballmer's statement that Firefox is serious competition.

The slow erosion of IE's dominance is likely to continue at least until Firefox 3.7 is released next March. At that time we'll learn whether Windows Vista and 7 users will rebel against Mozilla's planned Ribbon UI and move to IE8, or whether IE's slide will accelerate.

And then, of course, there's Firefox 4.0, scheduled for release in late 2010. Any bets on what the market share figures will look like in that time frame? ®

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