Microsoft's Internet Explorer is experiencing an uptick in users, according to analysis Website StatCounter.
Through the end of November, the combined versions of Internet Explorer held some 50.66 percent of the U.S. browser market, followed by Firefox at 20.09 percent, Google Chrome at 17.3 percent, Apple's Safari at 10.76 percent, and Opera at 0.43 percent.
For Internet Explorer, that represents a noticeable uptick from October, when the combined versions held 46.11 percent of the market. The other browsers experienced slight declines.
Versions-wise, Internet Explorer 8 held the top spot with 30.63 percent of the overall market, with Internet Explorer 9 occupying another 14.08 percent. Some 5 percent of the market is still using Internet Explorer 7. Microsoft has been issuing previews of the next version, Internet Explorer 10, with features such as subtitles for HTML5 video.
Microsoft is intent on creating browsers that leverage Windows and hardware in order to more quickly deliver fully rendered Websites. "The only native experience of HTML5 on the Web today is on Windows 7 with Internet Explorer 9," Dean Hachamovitch, corporate vice president of Internet Explorer, told an audience at April's MIX11 conference. "With Internet Explorer 9, Websites can take advantage of the power of modern hardware and a modern operating system and deliver experiences that were not possible a year ago."
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. "Running Metro style IE plug-in-free improves battery life as well as security, reliability and privacy for consumers," Hachamovitch wrote in a Sept. 14 posting on Microsoft's official "Building Windows 8" blog. "Plug-ins were important early on in the Web's history. But the Web has come a long way since then with HTML5."
For its part, Adobe announced plans in November to stop investing in Flash for mobile browsing, instead choosing to devote energy to the development of HTML5.
Microsoft is also encouraging users to abandon Internet Explorer 6, to the point of launching a Website earlier this year titled "The Internet Explorer 6 Countdown." The browser holds a niggling market share in the United States and Canada, but is used widely in other markets such as China. A number of users rely on IE6 as part of Windows XP, another legacy platform that Microsoft desperately wants users to eliminate in favor of newer versions.