Long Term Browser Usage Trends

Mozilla’s Asa Dotzler made some waves when he posted this graph based on data from Net Applications Browser Market Share report.

Long Term Browser Trends

The most obvious feature is the steady decline of Internet Explorer’s market share from 90 percent in 2004, to just around 66 percent today. Firefox and Safari are the two browsers that have gained most from Microsoft’s losses.

One way to look at this is the glass is 2/3rds empty — the vast majority of Internet users still use crappy Internet Explorer despite all of its problems, security issues, etc. On the other hand, the 1/3 glass full view is that this is a phenomenal achievement. As one of the commenters to Dotzler’s post notes,

It is [a bit depressing that IE' share is still so high], but then you have to remember these are percentages of the whole web-using population. A few percent a year equates to millions of users switched. When you consider that it has happened without OS-bundling, without huge paid marketing campaigns, and without major web sites mandating particular browsers, then it’s actually an incredibly impressive rate of adoption. Even as it stands, the market share of non-IE browsers is enough to keep Microsoft honest, and force them into a more proactive and standards-friendly approach. IE8 may still be way behind the competition in many areas, but at least it pays far more attention to web standards than any previous IE release, and we have Firefox and Safari to thank for that.

Are Open Source Browsers Leaving Proprietary Ones in the Dust?

Nice roundup here and here on browser benchmarks suggesting that Firefox and Chrome are 3-4 times faster than the recently released Internet Explorer 8 RC 1. Opera fares better against Firefox/Chrome, but is still signficantly slower.

Yeah, that open source model will never work.

Of course, I doubt speed is the primary reason most of us use Firefox. I do have one suggestion, however, that might at least get me to use Internet Explorer more than once a month — either bring MSN Search into the 21st century or switch the default to Google.

Every so often I leave Internet Explorer open in my second monitor and before I realize I’m doing it, I pop in a search term and hit submit. I swear to god I think Alta Vista gave better results back in 1998 than MSN does today. The gap between what Google gives me vs. what MSN Search gives is like the difference between Pong and Far Cry.

Not to mention MSN Search’s design aesthetic seems to have been lifted from spam sites.

Everything about the IE user experience is just awful from beginning to end above and beyond any speed issue.