After Microsoft released Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7 in late February, the market share of the previously Windows 8-specific browser almost doubled. That strong growth has continued, with the browser share doubling again in April.
The overall split of the browser market is, however, little changed. Internet Explorer sits at 55.81 percent of the desktop market, an insignificant drop of 0.02 points. Firefox nudged up, gaining 0.09 points for a 20.30 percent share. Chrome fell slightly, losing 0.10 points for a 16.35 percent share. Safari grew 0.07 points to 5.38 percent, and Opera was all but unchanged, dropping 0.01 points to 1.73 percent.
The major desktop browsers appear to have fairly firmly cemented positions. After many years of losses since its monopolistic peak, first to Firefox and then to Chrome, Internet Explorer's share has steadied, with the mass defections to other browsers at an end. Firefox is in a solid second place, and while it once looked almost certain that Chrome would overtake it, Google's browser has lost ground.
The mobile market remains more volatile, as we've seen in past months. Safari is down 2.37 points to 59.42 percent, Android is up 1.03 points to 22.89 percent, and Opera Mini is also up, gaining 1.5 points to 9.9 percent. Internet Explorer, after several months of growth, lost ground, dropping 0.35 points for a 1.64 percent share. Chrome grew a little, picking up 0.2 points for a 2.63 percent share.
Chrome and Firefox continue to show strong automatic update performance and continue to show a bunch of users that have disabled or refused automatic updates for reasons unknown. Automatic updates work, and that's something that Microsoft is learning too.
Internet Explorer 10 got off to a slow start as it was only available for Windows 8 for the first four or so months of its existence. The Windows 7 version has, however, changed everything. Unlike past versions of Internet Explorer, Microsoft rolled it out as an automatic update from day one, slowly distributing it to more markets around the world. The result is a substantial acceleration in its use. Over April it picked up 3.09 points, for a 6.04 percent share. This is a bigger single-month gain than Internet Explorer 9 ever received; its best month was gaining 2.6 points in March 2012.
Unsurprisingly, the gains are coming largely at the expense of Internet Explorer 9. It lost 2.45 points in April. The bad news for Web developers is that older versions of Microsoft's browser are little changed. Internet Explorer 6 held steady at 6.26 percent. Version 7 dropped slightly, falling 0.12 points to 1.82 percent, and version 8 was also down, falling 0.15 points to 23.18 percent. As such, somewhat less than half, 43 percent, of Internet Explorer users are using "Modern" (9 and 10) versions; the rest remain resolutely legacy.
As for Windows 8, it's growing, but rather more slowly. It was up 0.65 points for a 3.82 percent share. This is ahead of the most common version of OS X, 10.8 with a 2.82 percent share, but still behind Windows Vista, which dropped 0.24 points to 4.75 percent. Windows 7 and Windows XP are still far out in front, with a 44.72 and 38.31 percent share, respectively.