Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser reversed years of declines and posted a net gain of 1.2 percent usage share globally over the past five months, according to a report from measurement firm Net Applications. As of March 2012, IE claimed 53.83 percent of Web browser market share, followed by Firefox with 20.55 percent, Google's Chrome browser with 18.57 percent and Safari with 5.07 percent. Opera placed fifth with 1.62 percent, and other Web browsers claimed the remaining 0.36 percent.
"With a gain of .99 percent last month and a net gain of 1.2 percent global usage share over the last five months, Internet Explorer has stabilized and even reversed its usage share declines of the last few years," Net Applications wrote. Chrome witnessed its third straight month of declines after falling from its peak of 19.11 percent market share in December 2011. Although Apple's Safari browser slipped in market share from February to March, the browser's overall market share rose 0.07 percent over the last five months.
"We continue to see great strides made against our core metric: IE9 share on Windows 7," Microsoft's director of Internet Explorer product marketing, Roger Capriotti, wrote on the company's Exploring IE blog. "This month in the US nearly 50 percent of Windows 7 users are experiencing the best the Web has to offer with IE9, and around the world, almost 35 percent of Windows 7 users are browsing with IE9."
The IE8 browser was the most used desktop browser, making up 25.4 percent of the market, followed by IE9 with 15.17 percent. Chrome 17 took third place with 14.73 percent, while Firefox claimed fourth place with 7.79 percent market share.
IE6, the death of which Microsoft had been making a big fuss about in the United States, rounded out the top five with 6.9 percent. As of December, its total stood at 7.7 percent, most of the usage coming from mainland China. However, according to the January Net Applications report, use of IE6 in the United States has dropped to beneath 1 percent. Early in 2011, Microsoft started a Website, "The Internet Explorer 6 Countdown," which used data from Net Applications to detail IE6 usage around the world.
Microsoft is intent on creating browsers that leverage Windows and hardware in order to more quickly deliver fully rendered Websites. With Internet Explorer 10, Microsoft plans on further embracing that theme. To that end, the next-generation browser will come to the upcoming Windows 8 in two versions: one for the desktop and another "Metro"-style one for tablets. The desktop version will fully support plug-ins and extensions, while the Metro-style browser will be plug-in free.
On the mobile browser side of things, Safari continued to dominate, grabbing 60.54 percent of market share in March, compared with 18.3 percent for Google's Android Browser, 15.39 percent for Opera Mini, 1.73 percent for BlackBerry and 1.56 percent for Symbian. The "other" category comprised 2.48 percent of mobile browser market share, according to the report.