Internet Explorer Takes Another Market-Share Hit

Microsoft's market-dominant Web browser slips another percentage point as Mozilla's open-source Firefox browser makes inroads ahead of its official launch.

Challenges to Microsofts Web browser dominance are mounting as Internet Explorer loses more market share to open-source rival Mozilla.

Microsoft Corp.s Internet Explorer lost nearly a percentage point in market share in the past seven weeks and is nearing a loss of 3 percentage points since its decline first began in early June, Web analytics provider WebSideStory Inc. reported Monday.

Internet Explorer dropped to 92.9 percent of the browser market as of Oct. 29,which is a decline of 0.8 percentage points since WebSideStorys last market-share report on Sept. 10 and a 2.6 percentage point drop overall.

Firefox, the Mozilla Foundations standalone browser, was the biggest beneficiary of IEs most recent losses, WebSideStory analyst Geoff Johnston said. WebSideStory broke out Firefoxs share for the first time, and the alternative browser comprised 3 percent of the market.

"Is this just a buzz thing or a fad?" Johnston asked. "Its hard to tell, but it has to be encouraging if you are the Mozilla Firefox guys that [IEs losses] have gone on for about five months."

Officials from Mozilla were not available to comment on the latest market-share numbers.

Firefox wasnt alone in making inroads against IE. Taken together, browsers from Mozilla and America Online Inc.s Netscape Communications subsidiary accounted for 6 percent of the market, a jump of 2.48 percentage points since September.

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Other browsers, mainly Opera Software ASAs namesake browser and Apple Computer Inc.s Safari browser, crossed the 1 percent line, gaining 0.1 percentage points to make up 1.1 percent of the browser market, according to San Diego-based WebSideStory.

Microsoft officials attributed the latest market-share shifts to the attention being given to Firefox and to advanced users trying out the IE alternative.

"Were seeing the natural ebb and flow of a competitive marketplace [as] something new has come on the market," said Gary Schare, a director in Microsofts Windows client division.

Firefox has gained widespread attention since Mozilla released a preview of Version 1.0 in September and stepped up its grass-roots marketing efforts. The official launch of Firefox 1.0 is set for Nov. 9, and Mozilla is releasing a string of final test versions beforehand, foundation officials have said.

Next Page: Microsoft still quiet on IE development plans.