July 17, 2007 6:52 AM PDT

Firefox gains at IE's expense in Europe

Mozilla's Web browser, Firefox, has gained on average an extra 3.1 percent of the market in 32 European countries in the past four months, according to French Web-monitoring company XiTi Monitor.

Since its launch, Firefox has been steadily gaining market share from the dominant browser, Microsoft's Internet Explorer. In the first week of July 2006, Firefox had 21.1 percent of the market. In the first week of July 2007, Firefox held 27.8 percent of the European market, according to XiTi Monitor's report.

"It's a nice way to get started on a Monday morning," said Tristan Nitot, president of Mozilla Europe. "I hope we continue to gain market share, as our goal is to promote choice. Monopoly leads to lack of innovation."

Although Microsoft still has 66.5 percent of the browser market across Europe, in certain countries Firefox has now become very popular--especially in Eastern Europe. In Slovenia, Firefox has 47.9 percent of the market, while the browser now has more than 39 percent market share in Poland, Hungary and Croatia.

Nitot said that a major factor in Firefox's success in countries like Slovenia and Poland was the support network that exists in them.

"There's a very active community there--there's active forum support online. Also, if you have a problem, people from the community will come to your business and fix any potential issues," Nitot said.

Microsoft should not ignore Firefox's market gains, Nitot said.

"I think it should be a cause for concern for them--our intention is to encourage Microsoft to get back to work and improve IE," he said. "We want a better Web experience for everybody."

Microsoft should also be concerned about the wider implications of the loss of browser market share as it makes hosted applications a bigger part of its business, said Nitot. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer last week announced Microsoft's intention to move toward Web-based applications.

Nitot said that Microsoft faces a complex situation at the moment, as it tries to redefine itself as a Web-services, rather than a software, company.

"Microsoft has recognized that, if it wants to be successful in the future, it should move towards the Web applications space. In the short term this is going to hurt Windows and Office. It's a difficult situation to be in," Nitot said. "Also, how is it going to leverage those assets to be more successful in the Web scene?"

Microsoft denied that it was concerned either about Firefox gaining market share in Europe or difficulties in redefining itself as a Web services company.

"We're proud to see Windows remains the platform of choice, in part because it provides our customers with the widest range of both hardware and software options in the industry," a Microsoft representative wrote in an e-mailed statement.

"While we think IE is the choice of hundreds of millions of people and businesses around the world because of the unique value it provides, we certainly respect that some customers will choose alternative browsers. Alongside a variety of user interface improvements, we've also made significant investments in better security for IE 7. These features, along with our world-class customer support, continue to make IE a compelling choice for our customers."

IE has been and continues to be plagued by security problems. People found multiple bugs in the latest version of the browser, IE 7, in February this year. Security advisory company Secunia notes that there have been 10 advisories issued about IE 7 up to July 2007, one of which was "critical."

Tom Espiner of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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13 comments

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First Europe...
...then North America.

I can live with that, judging by the increased FF usage I see here (in the US).

/P
Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I don't think Microsoft has anything to be worried about.
Microsoft should just keep doing everything the way that it is, and not pay any attention to its competition. That would be best.
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
Reply Link Flag
"We're proud to see Windows remains the platform of choice"
Very few people have actually chosen Microshite junk.
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
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Don't forget about....
"While we think IE is 'the choice' of hundreds of millions of people and businesses around the world because of the unique value it provides"

what value?
all the people I know that are using IE never, and I repeat... never heard of FF...
and allmost all of them only know how to double-click on that icon over there.... ;)
Posted by tasehagi (19 comments )
Link Flag
"We're proud to see Windows remains the platform of choice"
Umm... No. If you don't believe in the numbers, let me say that there are more than considerable amount of people who actually chose Windows over other OS. That's why the Windows ecosystem is alive, softwares are being develop on top of this OS. Hardware manufacturers make sure their products compliant on Windows.
Posted by jhoeforth (90 comments )
Link Flag
Integration with the OS is the problem
I use Firefox because it is more secure, more stable, faster, and not "integrated" with Windows or any other OS. IE's major flaws stem from it's cobbled-together integration into Windows to avoid anti-monopoly lawsuits like the one Netscape brought against Microsoft, which was made moot by claims that the browser was part of the OS in the next version of Windows (98). A browser is an application, and should not be tied in to the core of any operating system.
Posted by robbtuck (132 comments )
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They did this on purpose
MS wanted to make sure that they could not disentangle IE from the OS. That way, no judge could ever order them to stop shipping it with windows. From a software engineering point of view, heavily integrating an app like IE with the OS is stupid and one of the reasons it took MS so long to get vista out the door. It was only done to try and get an unfair advantage over competitors.
Posted by C_G_K (169 comments )
Link Flag
What About That IE Vista Sandbox?
We were told by MS that IE on Vista would run in a "sandbox" to keep the computer safe. If this were true then it wouldn't matter how many security holes were in IE would it? What happened to that mythical sandbox?
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
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Protected Mode
It is not a sandbox. It is called Potected Mode, see <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/features/details/ie7protectedmode.mspx" target="_newWindow">http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/features/details/ie7protectedmode.mspx</a> although the Microsoft website does a pretty poor job of explaining it.

It has definitely helped improve the security of Vista. It'd be great to see other browsers use protected mode as well so that whatever browser you use access to writing to the OS is restricted.
Posted by DMassy (1 comment )
Link Flag
If MS wants to be successful in web apps
Then their apps better work in all major browsers. Windows isn't going away, but its market share is going to continue to shrink as the os we run locally becomes less and less important.

Why abandon all those non-IE using potential customers to the competition? There's going to be more of them everyday.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
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