Internet Explorer still growing as Windows 7 starts its decline

Internet Explorer logoIn the first month of 2013, Internet Explorer's desktop market share is continuing to slowly climb upwards, with Firefox consolidating its number two spot. There are signs that Windows 7 may have peaked as Windows 8 is slowly picking up users.

January was a good month for Microsoft's browser, up 0.37 points to 55.14 percent. Firefox also grew, up 0.12 points to 19.94 percent. Chrome fell, down 0.56 points to 17.48 percent. Safari was unchanged at 5.24 percent, and Opera was up a hair, gaining 0.04 points to reach 1.75 percent.

The improvement of Internet Explorer's position masks a story that's decidedly mixed for Microsoft. Windows 7 fell for the first time in January, dropping 0.63 points from a high of 45.11 percent to 44.48 percent. Windows 8's slow growth is continuing, up 0.54 points from 1.72 percent to 2.26 percent. There's also a small number of tablet users, with 0.08 percent on Windows 8 Touch and a minuscule 0.02 percent on Windows RT Touch.

Taken together, the growth by the Windows 8 family seems to be covering the losses Windows 7 has incurred, but that's surprisingly weak. With corporations still migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7—a process that should continue even in spite of Windows 8's release—one would expect Windows 7 and 8 to both be growing.

There are, however, signs that Windows 8 is catching on, at least in some audiences. Valve's latest hardware survey results are out, with Windows 8 up 1.83 points in January, to a total of 8.76 percent (overwhelmingly favoring the 64-bit version). The Valve hardware survey arguably represents the enthusiast segment of the market; virtually all hardcore gamers are using Steam (though Steam also has plenty of non-hardcore games), but it appears that at least that group is happy to make the switch.

Internet Explorer still growing as Windows 7 starts its decline

The news in mobile is more unambiguously improved for Microsoft. Unsurprisingly, Safari remains totally dominant, up 0.46 points to 61.02 percent. Android has a firm hold on second place, down 0.64 points to 21.46 percent. The surprise story is Internet Explorer; after languishing below 1 percent for years, it has posted relatively strong gains for the last couple of months, in January picking up 0.18 points for a total of 1.34 percent. Windows 8 may be struggling to win hearts and minds in the tablet space, but Windows Phone seems to have turned a corner.

The Chrome and Firefox automatic updaters remain as solid as ever. Over the last year a familiar pattern has emerged: while almost everyone is updated by Chrome's installer, each new version of Firefox is leaving some users behind, and those users are sticking with their old browser versions for a prolonged period. It's not clear why this is the case; although the Firefox updater was initially problematic, nowadays it's pretty solid and effective. The users of the very old versions are susceptible to all manner of security flaws; it is perhaps only their relative obscurity keeping them safe.

Just as January saw Windows 7's first decline, so too did it see Internet Explorer 9's first decline. Similarly, just as the Windows 8 gains offset the Windows 7 losses, the Internet Explorer 10 gains are offsetting the Internet Explorer 9 losses. Internet Explorer 10 usage is still less than half of the level of Windows 8 usage, however, indicating that a majority of Windows 8 users simply aren't interested in Redmond's browser. The release of Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7 isn't too far off; this should see greater uptake of Microsoft's latest and greatest browser.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: browsers, Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari

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