January 21, 2005 4:47 PM PST

Firefox continues gains against IE

The popularity of alternative Web browser Firefox continues to rise at the expense of Microsoft's Internet Explorer, according to a new study.

From the beginning of December through mid-January, 4.78 percent of Internet surfers studied by online measurement company WebSideStory used the Mozilla Foundation's Firefox browser, a gain of 0.88 percentage points. At the same time, IE usage declined 0.7 percent to 92.7 percent, the firm reported. WebSideStory said IE use has declined from 96.7 percent since June.

The study measured market share by embedding sensors on major Web sites such as those of the Walt Disney Internet Group, Best Buy, Sony and Liz Claiborne. Previous studies from WebSideStory tested all operating systems, but the company said its Windows-only numbers are more accurate because new configurations in Apple Computer's Safari browser inadvertently skewed results. WebSideStory retrieves data from 30 million Internet users a day passing through its monitored sites. The company then takes a snapshot of two days and compares the growth.

Mozilla, an open-source software foundation formed by Netscape, launched Firefox 1.0 in November, after recording more than 8 million downloads of its test version. As downloads continued to surge, measurement firms such as WebSideStory and Dutch market researcher OneStat.com began releasing data tracking Firefox gains and IE declines. In December, OneStat reported that IE's market share had slipped to 88.9 percent, a figure Microsoft disputed.

Even though Microsoft maintains the dominance it has enjoyed since defeating Netscape Communications' browser in the mid-1990s, Firefox's snowballing popularity is raising eyebrows.

Much of Firefox's success rides on it simply not being IE. Firefox fans have praised the new browser's automatic pop-up blocking and tabbed browsing features, but security has been one of the big points. Viruses and spyware are often aimed at IE because of its near-total market dominance.

However, Firefox's popularity may eventually attract the attention of malicious code writers trying to exploit security holes. The recent discovery of a potentially damaging software flaw suggested the potential for Firefox attacks.

Since beginning its measurements last summer, WebSideStory has been cautious to draw any broad conclusions about Firefox's popularity. This time around, the company said many people are not only downloading Firefox, they're sticking with it and using it.

"We are finding that in many cases there's room for two browsers on the desktop, and in other cases people are completely switched over," said Geoff Johnston, an analyst at WebSideStory.

A Microsoft spokesman did not immediately comment for this story.

40 comments

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Firefox not FireFox
It is spelt "Firefox."
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This study seems skewed
First, "The study measured market share by embedding sensors on major Web sites such as those of the Walt Disney Internet Group, Best Buy, Sony and Liz Claiborne." Anybody reading this visit those sites regularly? Are those sites representative of web users in general, or simply a targeted demographic of consumer America?

I think if the survey were done on a group of sites that included News.com, TheInquirer.net, Anandtech, Tom's Hardware, even the New York Times , the percentage of Firefox users would be statistically significantly higher. Even by rating the US' most visited sites, the numbers would change. But limited sampling has always been used to skew surveys.

It's not just that I happen to be using Firefox from an IP within the US-I think I see the author's (Jim Hu) journalistic perspective showing. " Much of FireFox's success rides on it simply not being IE." What a crock! If that were the case, I'd be using Opera or Mozilla. I use it because it's better, more versatile, and more productive.

Firefox is inherently more secure than Explorer and always will be, and when security issues arise, a cadre of programmers stand ready to back up their own work. Not bad for an open source product. How many unpatched extremely critical flaws does Secunia have listed for Internet Explorer now? And for Firefox?
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not a crock...
Maybe you've seen past the recent tech headlines that strongly encourage users to dump Insecure Explorer, but the vast majority of users have not. Typical users are moving to Firefox because, yes, it's not MSIE. And yes, because it's free.

And BTW, don't go slamming Opera, it's also a damned good browser.
Posted by TimeBomb (70 comments )
Link Flag
This study seems skewed
First, "The study measured market share by embedding sensors on major Web sites such as those of the Walt Disney Internet Group, Best Buy, Sony and Liz Claiborne." Anybody reading this visit those sites regularly? Are those sites representative of web users in general, or simply a targeted demographic of consumer America?

I think if the survey were done on a group of sites that included News.com, TheInquirer.net, Anandtech, Tom's Hardware, even the New York Times , the percentage of Firefox users would be statistically significantly higher. Even by rating the US' most visited sites, the numbers would change. But limited sampling has always been used to skew surveys.

It's not just that I happen to be using Firefox from an IP within the US-I think I see the author's (Jim Hu) journalistic perspective showing. " Much of FireFox's success rides on it simply not being IE." What a crock! If that were the case, I'd be using Opera or Mozilla. I use it because it's better, more versatile, and more productive.

Firefox is inherently more secure than Explorer and always will be, and when security issues arise, a cadre of programmers stand ready to back up their own work. Not bad for an open source product. How many unpatched extremely critical flaws does Secunia have listed for Internet Explorer now? And for Firefox?
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not a crock...
Maybe you've seen past the recent tech headlines that strongly encourage users to dump Insecure Explorer, but the vast majority of users have not. Typical users are moving to Firefox because, yes, it's not MSIE. And yes, because it's free.

And BTW, don't go slamming Opera, it's also a damned good browser.
Posted by TimeBomb (70 comments )
Link Flag
Firefox = AntiSpyware
I'm now a Firefox zealot. There are all kinds of things I've heard about it that sound cool, but that I haven't taken the time to do, i.e. configurable pop-up blocking. But what I do know is this: Since I have started using Firefox, I have not been hit once by spyware of any kind. Previously, I couldn't go a week without having some kind of infestation. I would have to run Yahoo Anti-Spy (PestPatrol), Spybot, Microsoft's beta Anti-Spyware and McAfee Anti-Spyware to clean all this satanic crap off my machine. Frequently I would then have to manually remove things from my registry. Now, since loading Firefox... I am rarely hit by anything other than cookies, which are easy to remove when needed. If you're hesitating...don't. It works just like IE, only better.
Posted by tsrman (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Firefox = AntiSpyware
I'm now a Firefox zealot. There are all kinds of things I've heard about it that sound cool, but that I haven't taken the time to do, i.e. configurable pop-up blocking. But what I do know is this: Since I have started using Firefox, I have not been hit once by spyware of any kind. Previously, I couldn't go a week without having some kind of infestation. I would have to run Yahoo Anti-Spy (PestPatrol), Spybot, Microsoft's beta Anti-Spyware and McAfee Anti-Spyware to clean all this satanic crap off my machine. Frequently I would then have to manually remove things from my registry. Now, since loading Firefox... I am rarely hit by anything other than cookies, which are easy to remove when needed. If you're hesitating...don't. It works just like IE, only better.
Posted by tsrman (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What is the percentage of Firefox on Cnet.com?
I've switched to Firefox a long time ago, since the 0.7 version and I don't miss anything from IE, actually now I'm missing the mouse gestures on the OS, I am always wondering which is the percentage of other browsers usage at the Cnet sites, because it works exactly the same on IE and FF since old times, when no others care about cross browsing compatibility.
Can News.com disclosure this numbers?
Posted by acarlos1000 (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
uhhhh .. ya
>> It is spelt "Firefox."

It is spelled "spelled". Spelt is to split or to break. You have no room to talk.
Posted by nuopus (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sometimes.
Actually both spelled and spelt are acceptable English, with
spelled being more prevalent in American English and the
irregular form in British English.
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
Play nice
"Spelt" (British) is the past participle of "spell," as well as a grain, and to split, and on and on... Word etymology matters, and you need to stop getting so personal over such trivial items.
Posted by just_wally (9 comments )
Link Flag
uhhhh .. ya
>> It is spelt "Firefox."

It is spelled "spelled". Spelt is to split or to break. You have no room to talk.
Posted by nuopus (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sometimes.
Actually both spelled and spelt are acceptable English, with
spelled being more prevalent in American English and the
irregular form in British English.
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
Play nice
"Spelt" (British) is the past participle of "spell," as well as a grain, and to split, and on and on... Word etymology matters, and you need to stop getting so personal over such trivial items.
Posted by just_wally (9 comments )
Link Flag
And the real user agent is...
Many M$ web servers detect non-M$ie browsers and deliver mangled HTML. Whilst this is no longer as common as it used to be it is the reason that a very popular addition to Firefox is the User Agent switcher.
I wonder how many server logs show the browser as M$ie when it's really Firefox, Opera, Konquerer or some other...
Check the log for this post - is "In a world without walls who needs Gates?" really my browsers UserAgent??
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
...or refuse you service.
My wife amuses herself with EmailCash. Recently,
the company that does the surveys (OTX Research)
altered their website to refuse to serve other
than MSIE on MSWindows. After I told FireFox to
lie about its age^WUserAgent string, it all
worked ferpectly.
Posted by (20 comments )
Link Flag
And the real user agent is...
Many M$ web servers detect non-M$ie browsers and deliver mangled HTML. Whilst this is no longer as common as it used to be it is the reason that a very popular addition to Firefox is the User Agent switcher.
I wonder how many server logs show the browser as M$ie when it's really Firefox, Opera, Konquerer or some other...
Check the log for this post - is "In a world without walls who needs Gates?" really my browsers UserAgent??
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
...or refuse you service.
My wife amuses herself with EmailCash. Recently,
the company that does the surveys (OTX Research)
altered their website to refuse to serve other
than MSIE on MSWindows. After I told FireFox to
lie about its age^WUserAgent string, it all
worked ferpectly.
Posted by (20 comments )
Link Flag
This is dumb
The idea that people are downloading and trying Firefox in record numbers simply because it is not Microsoft is complete and utter BS. The reason there are so many downloads and users is that it WORKS BETTER. Firefox is spreading mainly by word-of-mouth. After trying it, most stick with it for its very useful features and no more spyware.

Microsoft fanboys will say that FF doesn't have viruses and spyware getting through because no one uses it. More BS. The main way spyware gets in is through ActiveX which FF doesn't support. That's why. FF is probably not 100% secure, but it is more secure and doesn't support gaping holes like ActiveX. Microsoft can't drop ActiveX because so many corporate customers have built software that uses it, and of course it would be admitting that the whole concept was a bad idea from a security standpoint.
Posted by chris_d (195 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I would say that FireFox has already attracted the attention of adware writ
I've already started to see some sites that have somehow bypassed FireFox's popup blocker. I don't know how they do it but I think its tied to clicking on a physical link on the site that is spawning a popup. In any event there is adware now that is taking FF and Mozilla into consideration. I actually had a Java popup Windows show up the other day and ask if I want to install this app which appeared to be an adware util. Clicking no is easy enough but like IE it just takes a user to not pay attention to the dialog and simply click yes..well you get my point. I still consider FF much more secure then IE.
Posted by Jonathan (832 comments )
Link Flag
What I think.
I think most people download Firefox because it's not IE. I think most people download Firefox because someone told them it is better than IE. I think most people use it because it works great.

I can tell you from first hand experience that I downloaded it because it wasn't IE. I continued to use it (from v.5 up) because it wasn't IE and faster than Netscape and cheaper than Opera. I can tell you I stick with it because of the tools that are built in and the secure feeling I get with it.

It is still possible to get spyware on Firefox just not as prevailent because it lacks ActiveX and VBscript, but it still has cookies that can be used for spyware.

Firefox is good enough for me. I don't care what Microsoft diehards have to say. If they choose to use IE, more power to them. I try to educate myself everyday on new and old technologies and from what I have learned Microsoft just doesn't put security first in anything. That may change someday, but even then who wants one company making controlling your computer.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Link Flag
This is dumb
The idea that people are downloading and trying Firefox in record numbers simply because it is not Microsoft is complete and utter BS. The reason there are so many downloads and users is that it WORKS BETTER. Firefox is spreading mainly by word-of-mouth. After trying it, most stick with it for its very useful features and no more spyware.

Microsoft fanboys will say that FF doesn't have viruses and spyware getting through because no one uses it. More BS. The main way spyware gets in is through ActiveX which FF doesn't support. That's why. FF is probably not 100% secure, but it is more secure and doesn't support gaping holes like ActiveX. Microsoft can't drop ActiveX because so many corporate customers have built software that uses it, and of course it would be admitting that the whole concept was a bad idea from a security standpoint.
Posted by chris_d (195 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I would say that FireFox has already attracted the attention of adware writ
I've already started to see some sites that have somehow bypassed FireFox's popup blocker. I don't know how they do it but I think its tied to clicking on a physical link on the site that is spawning a popup. In any event there is adware now that is taking FF and Mozilla into consideration. I actually had a Java popup Windows show up the other day and ask if I want to install this app which appeared to be an adware util. Clicking no is easy enough but like IE it just takes a user to not pay attention to the dialog and simply click yes..well you get my point. I still consider FF much more secure then IE.
Posted by Jonathan (832 comments )
Link Flag
What I think.
I think most people download Firefox because it's not IE. I think most people download Firefox because someone told them it is better than IE. I think most people use it because it works great.

I can tell you from first hand experience that I downloaded it because it wasn't IE. I continued to use it (from v.5 up) because it wasn't IE and faster than Netscape and cheaper than Opera. I can tell you I stick with it because of the tools that are built in and the secure feeling I get with it.

It is still possible to get spyware on Firefox just not as prevailent because it lacks ActiveX and VBscript, but it still has cookies that can be used for spyware.

Firefox is good enough for me. I don't care what Microsoft diehards have to say. If they choose to use IE, more power to them. I try to educate myself everyday on new and old technologies and from what I have learned Microsoft just doesn't put security first in anything. That may change someday, but even then who wants one company making controlling your computer.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Link Flag
Choose the best tool for the job in hand (is any ONE tool perfect ?)
ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE -- JUST FOR COMPARISON:
My own web sites (asiapac.com.au in Australia and its mirror notestracker.com in the USA) have had IE tracking for some months at 98.5 per cent (97.8% for IE 6.X, and now only 0.7% for IE 5.X), whereas a year or two ago IE was around only 90% or so. Firefox is showing as 0.8% and all the others are negligible, at 0.1% or 0.2% each. Sure, my two sites get a tiny fraction of the visits of the biggies, but the browser shares have been consistent and growing in IE's favor without FF making the inroads that several surveys indicate.

Yes, I do use FF, but for certain actions where it works more efficiently for me and not for everything. I particularly like FF for its tabbed browsing (via Tabbrowser extensions), and one or two other things, like its almost infinitely variable text size. But as we all know, a considerable proportion of Web sites  or at least certain parts of the sites  only work properly under IE. Therefore I find it hard to justify considering that FF as a universal best-and-only browser choice (just as you need more than one screwdriver and spanner for tinkering with the old jalopy).

I agree with parts of the other feedback responses, but not everything.

I regularly use two different free "front ends" for IE, namely Avant Browser and Enigma Browser. Yes, I know there are others (if they're not free, I avoid them)! We all have preferred tools. Avant Browser has tabbing, mouse gestures, Pop-up blocking, Ad blocking, and other useful features, so these days I find myself using it most. But I switch over to Enigma Browser for Internet banking and the like, because for some reason it handles their pop-up windows more cleanly. And occasionally I still use even plain old IE, for various sorts of program testing and other special situations -- or, of course, when its the only browser installed on a system.

So I find myself swapping between browsers a fair bit -- and the Firefox extensions "View this page in Firefox" [for IE] and "View This Page in IE" [for FF] are amongst the first that I install to facilitate this.

I've seen the occasional report that some development circles inside Microsoft are itching to release tabbed browsing and some of the other missing essentials, but that the "powers that be" have suppressed this. Who knows if/when IE will have an interim upgrade of its feature set ... one can only hope.
Posted by NotesTracker2010 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Choose the best tool for the job in hand (is any ONE tool perfect ?)
ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE -- JUST FOR COMPARISON:
My own web sites (asiapac.com.au in Australia and its mirror notestracker.com in the USA) have had IE tracking for some months at 98.5 per cent (97.8% for IE 6.X, and now only 0.7% for IE 5.X), whereas a year or two ago IE was around only 90% or so. Firefox is showing as 0.8% and all the others are negligible, at 0.1% or 0.2% each. Sure, my two sites get a tiny fraction of the visits of the biggies, but the browser shares have been consistent and growing in IE's favor without FF making the inroads that several surveys indicate.

Yes, I do use FF, but for certain actions where it works more efficiently for me and not for everything. I particularly like FF for its tabbed browsing (via Tabbrowser extensions), and one or two other things, like its almost infinitely variable text size. But as we all know, a considerable proportion of Web sites  or at least certain parts of the sites  only work properly under IE. Therefore I find it hard to justify considering that FF as a universal best-and-only browser choice (just as you need more than one screwdriver and spanner for tinkering with the old jalopy).

I agree with parts of the other feedback responses, but not everything.

I regularly use two different free "front ends" for IE, namely Avant Browser and Enigma Browser. Yes, I know there are others (if they're not free, I avoid them)! We all have preferred tools. Avant Browser has tabbing, mouse gestures, Pop-up blocking, Ad blocking, and other useful features, so these days I find myself using it most. But I switch over to Enigma Browser for Internet banking and the like, because for some reason it handles their pop-up windows more cleanly. And occasionally I still use even plain old IE, for various sorts of program testing and other special situations -- or, of course, when its the only browser installed on a system.

So I find myself swapping between browsers a fair bit -- and the Firefox extensions "View this page in Firefox" [for IE] and "View This Page in IE" [for FF] are amongst the first that I install to facilitate this.

I've seen the occasional report that some development circles inside Microsoft are itching to release tabbed browsing and some of the other missing essentials, but that the "powers that be" have suppressed this. Who knows if/when IE will have an interim upgrade of its feature set ... one can only hope.
Posted by NotesTracker2010 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft is reducing market share on purpose
There is more to this than meets the eye... my guess is that there have been (private) high level discussions and agreements that Microsoft are honouring to reduce the market share of Internet Explorer.
Posted by mylesJ (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Reply
Conspiracy theories and conjecture don't do anyone any good.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Link Flag
Microsoft is reducing market share on purpose
There is more to this than meets the eye... my guess is that there have been (private) high level discussions and agreements that Microsoft are honouring to reduce the market share of Internet Explorer.
Posted by mylesJ (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Reply
Conspiracy theories and conjecture don't do anyone any good.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Link Flag
Good
Good to see people want to try something new.
Posted by 201293546946733175101343322673 (722 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good
Good to see people want to try something new.
Posted by 201293546946733175101343322673 (722 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wish I Didn't Have To Use IE At All
I have been using Firefox for a month now and vastly prefer it to IE. If it were not for sites that use ActiveX, like Launch.com (hint, hint), I would not use IE at all.

IE, like a lot of Microsoft products, is falling behind the competition. I now look at Microsoft as the vendor of last resort. Not only do their products lack innovation, but they hog system resources like crazy.

Keith
www.techcando.com
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wish I Didn't Have To Use IE At All
I have been using Firefox for a month now and vastly prefer it to IE. If it were not for sites that use ActiveX, like Launch.com (hint, hint), I would not use IE at all.

IE, like a lot of Microsoft products, is falling behind the competition. I now look at Microsoft as the vendor of last resort. Not only do their products lack innovation, but they hog system resources like crazy.

Keith
www.techcando.com
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Firefox not FireFox
It is spelt "Firefox."
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What is the percentage of Firefox on Cnet.com?
I've switched to Firefox a long time ago, since the 0.7 version and I don't miss anything from IE, actually now I'm missing the mouse gestures on the OS, I am always wondering which is the percentage of other browsers usage at the Cnet sites, because it works exactly the same on IE and FF since old times, when no others care about cross browsing compatibility.
Can News.com disclosure this numbers?
Posted by acarlos1000 (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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