November 1, 2004 4:16 PM PST

Study: Firefox still gaining on Internet Explorer

Alternative Web browsers Mozilla and Firefox experienced another month of growth at the expense of Microsoft's dominant Internet Explorer, according to an online study.

The percentage of Americans using Mozilla and Firefox, two open-source browsers funded by the Mozilla Foundation, grew to 6 percent in October from 5.2 percent in September and 3.5 percent in June. That 6 percent was split evenly between the two browsers.

While Microsoft's IE continued as the overwhelming market leader, it witnessed another marginal decline, this time a dip of 0.8 percent. IE claimed 95.5 percent of users in June, 93.7 percent in September, and 92.9 percent last month. The Opera browser and Apple Computer's Safari combined reached just more than 1 percent of users.

Changing tides

Open-source browsers such as Firefox, as well as Apple Computer's Safari, seem to be stealing market share from Microsoft's dominant Internet Explorer.

Usage (percent)
BrowserJune 4Oct. 29Change
Internet Explorer95.4892.86- 2.62
Netscape / Mozilla 3.546.02*+ 2.48
Others**0.97 1.11 + 0.14
* Includes Firefox
** Includes Safari and Opera
Source: WebSideStory
WebSideStory measures market share by embedding sensors on major Web sites for the Walt Disney Internet Group, Best Buy, Sony, DaimlerChrysler and Liz Claiborne. These sensors can tell which browsers visitors are using to view the sites.

In the big picture, Mozilla and Firefox are specks of dust compared with the near-ubiquity of Internet Explorer. But given IE's fifth consecutive month of decline and Mozilla/Firefox's fifth consecutive month of growth, analysts are beginning to wonder whether and when the shift will stop.

"What we're seeing is (Mozilla and Firefox) looking more like a vanguard than a flash in a pan," said Geoff Johnston, an analyst at WebSideStory.

The study comes just ahead of Firefox's official release on Nov. 9. The browser, based on Mozilla's open-source code, has experienced a surprising surge in popularity, reaching 5 million downloads two weeks ago, then later passing 7 million.

Last weekend, the Mozilla Foundation said the project has raised more than $250,000 during its 10-day donation drive. The money will be spent to promote Firefox 1.0's release. Developers working on Firefox hope the software will reach 10 percent U.S. penetration by the end of 2005.

Firefox may continue to show gains, but the software could reach a ceiling, according to WebSideStory's Johnston. Most of its users are technology-proficient early adopters rather than average Web surfers. "(Firefox) hasn't gotten to mainstream," he said.

50 comments

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Only the ignorant using IE
All our three computers use Firefox broweser. IE only is used as a backup when some sites need it and window update. IE is ugly, slow, and outdated. When the judge whoever decided for leaving Microsoft intact in anti-trust case, he should retire to plant flowers at home. He has no idea how "anto-trust" Microsoft is in browser war.
Posted by (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Imust agree with the comment's title
It is true that only the ignorant use I.E.; I do not intend to insult anyone with the word "ignorant". In reality, as mush as Microsoft may say that people so many people use I.E. because they prefer it over other browsers, this is not true. These persons utilize I.E. because they are unaware of and most of the time, ignorant about the technology in their computers. If you give these people an alternative on their desktops and it is better than I.E., as it is the case with Safari, Opera, Firefox, Camino, etc., they will use it.

If computer companies commence to bundle Firefox and Opera in Windows-based computers, people will use these browsers and after comparing them to I.E., will cease to use it because they provide better options and a greater Web experience. Then, we will truly see a great drop in the usage of I.E..

I, personally, prefer Opera over Firefox (on both Windows and Macs). But the advancement of any of these makes me happy! :-)
Posted by (27 comments )
Link Flag
Yup
That also describes 95% of windows users.
Posted by (242 comments )
Link Flag
Only the ignorant using IE
All our three computers use Firefox broweser. IE only is used as a backup when some sites need it and window update. IE is ugly, slow, and outdated. When the judge whoever decided for leaving Microsoft intact in anti-trust case, he should retire to plant flowers at home. He has no idea how "anto-trust" Microsoft is in browser war.
Posted by (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Imust agree with the comment's title
It is true that only the ignorant use I.E.; I do not intend to insult anyone with the word "ignorant". In reality, as mush as Microsoft may say that people so many people use I.E. because they prefer it over other browsers, this is not true. These persons utilize I.E. because they are unaware of and most of the time, ignorant about the technology in their computers. If you give these people an alternative on their desktops and it is better than I.E., as it is the case with Safari, Opera, Firefox, Camino, etc., they will use it.

If computer companies commence to bundle Firefox and Opera in Windows-based computers, people will use these browsers and after comparing them to I.E., will cease to use it because they provide better options and a greater Web experience. Then, we will truly see a great drop in the usage of I.E..

I, personally, prefer Opera over Firefox (on both Windows and Macs). But the advancement of any of these makes me happy! :-)
Posted by (27 comments )
Link Flag
Yup
That also describes 95% of windows users.
Posted by (242 comments )
Link Flag
Firefox still has bugs, shows potential
i have firefox and ie and sadly i've gone back to ie despite it's flaws. why? it starts faster, loads pages slightly faster, the menus work faster and are less cluttered, and it doesn't eat up memory like ff does. ff doesn't have the fluidity of ie and takes up too much of my systems resources. my whole computer runs slower with ff running. until these sorts of issues are fixed and ff purrs along like my ie does, i'll be using the "evil browser."

for reference:
i'm using a PII 333mhz w/192MB RAM, 180GB total storage on 2 7200rpm drives w/dedicated controller card, ATI expert@work PCI video w/8MB RAM, running windows 98SE w/all the updates and IE v.6.0.2800.
Posted by Dibbs (158 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Internet Explorer vs Mozilla Firefox
Personally, I don't know if Microsoft's Internet Explorer is actually faster than Mozilla Firefox but Internet Explorer does have a few features and functions that I like and find useful. I am now using Firefox and I find that it is quite a capable browser, even though there are still lots of room for improvement. If the developers of Firefox will take the time to study the feedbacks and responses from the end-users, like you and I, and make the necessary improvements, I am sure it will eventually equal, if not surpass, Internet Explorer. Let's keep an open mind and give Firefox a chance to prove itself.
Posted by ChuTw (2 comments )
Link Flag
Eats Memory?
What do you expect with a obsolete system like yours especially when you can't even meet the minimum standard for RAM which is atleast 256MB. It doesn't matter which OS your using you need what selling on todays systems. The only reason IE seems faster is because you want it to be that way. Sure Firefox loads slower doesn't every app that's not built in?

BTW, My system is a 500Mhz, 256Mb RAM, Windows 2000, Radeon 8500 64Mb, 100Gb HD and 13Gb HD with separate controller card of course. Firefox 1.0 Preview with adblock, ieview, and single window extensions.

I also load a host file with ad sites redireted to localhost.
Posted by ledzep75 (53 comments )
Link Flag
IE not eating memory???
IE is also eating away quite some memory, you know.

The only thing is, M$ has hidden it so well in the OS, that the memory usage is not attributed to IE.
IE is constantly loaded in memory, so it looks as if it starts faster. So it is always consuming memory, even if you are not using it.
This is why FF "looks" slower, you are consuming twice the amount of memory: one is FF, the other is IE.

I've found that when Win98 is installed using Win98lite, (which completely removes IE) the whole system is much more performant, responsive, and of course safer to use. This on machines with even lower specs (96 MB, P233)

So my advise: find a copy of Win98lite, and reinstall you system. Your PC will thank you for it.
Posted by Steven N (487 comments )
Link Flag
Reply
They tell you on the site what the system requirments are. An your system is pretty close to the minimum spec listed on Mozilla.org for Firefox.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/system-requirements.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/system-requirements.html</a>

That said I run the current version of Firefox on 450 Mhz Pentium 3 with 196MB SDRAM running Windows XP Pro and it doesn't give me any problems.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Link Flag
Look at the big picture
Your system barely has enough ram to feed the glutton called windows, much less anything else. If you had a clue, you would realize that the low end of system requirements are just enough for it to run, not run well, just run.

IE is one of those things eating away at your ram and is preloaded, that is why it loads faster. IE is also bugg ridden and full of security holes and since it is integrated into windows, winblows inherits all those bugs and flaws on top of the mess that is windows specific.

Close the holes and squash the bugs. Use anything but IE. Your computer will that you for it.
Posted by (242 comments )
Link Flag
Firefox does NOT eat memory
I've heard this comment time and time again, so I did an experiment. I started up Firefox. I use the Noia 2.0 Extreme theme and have DOM inspector, User Agent Switcher, Web Developer, GoogleBar and AdBlock extensions installed and enabled (and Mozilla Calendar and Deepest Sender extensions awaiting an update to 1.0), so my Firefox probably uses more memory than most.

I have 9 pages in tabs as my home page. I looked at the memory usage in Task Manager. I then closed Firefox and opened the same pages in separate Firefox windows. Then I closed Firefox again and opened the same windows in IE (only choice is separate windows). Here's what I found:

IE: 57,152
FF Windows: 56,372
FF Tabs: 37,896

So in fact, IE uses more memory than Firefox. As for the speed argument, Firefox loads plenty fast enough for me, I really can't see any difference from IE, but then I have a fairly recent computer.

Besides, even if it is a little bit slower, it's a price I'm willing to pay for a slight security improvement and extensibility.
Posted by (4 comments )
Link Flag
You can easily make Firefox startup faster
FireTune (www.totalidea.com/freestuff4.htm) is a small programm that can help you speed up Firefox start time.

MJ
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
Firefox still has bugs, shows potential
i have firefox and ie and sadly i've gone back to ie despite it's flaws. why? it starts faster, loads pages slightly faster, the menus work faster and are less cluttered, and it doesn't eat up memory like ff does. ff doesn't have the fluidity of ie and takes up too much of my systems resources. my whole computer runs slower with ff running. until these sorts of issues are fixed and ff purrs along like my ie does, i'll be using the "evil browser."

for reference:
i'm using a PII 333mhz w/192MB RAM, 180GB total storage on 2 7200rpm drives w/dedicated controller card, ATI expert@work PCI video w/8MB RAM, running windows 98SE w/all the updates and IE v.6.0.2800.
Posted by Dibbs (158 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Internet Explorer vs Mozilla Firefox
Personally, I don't know if Microsoft's Internet Explorer is actually faster than Mozilla Firefox but Internet Explorer does have a few features and functions that I like and find useful. I am now using Firefox and I find that it is quite a capable browser, even though there are still lots of room for improvement. If the developers of Firefox will take the time to study the feedbacks and responses from the end-users, like you and I, and make the necessary improvements, I am sure it will eventually equal, if not surpass, Internet Explorer. Let's keep an open mind and give Firefox a chance to prove itself.
Posted by ChuTw (2 comments )
Link Flag
Eats Memory?
What do you expect with a obsolete system like yours especially when you can't even meet the minimum standard for RAM which is atleast 256MB. It doesn't matter which OS your using you need what selling on todays systems. The only reason IE seems faster is because you want it to be that way. Sure Firefox loads slower doesn't every app that's not built in?

BTW, My system is a 500Mhz, 256Mb RAM, Windows 2000, Radeon 8500 64Mb, 100Gb HD and 13Gb HD with separate controller card of course. Firefox 1.0 Preview with adblock, ieview, and single window extensions.

I also load a host file with ad sites redireted to localhost.
Posted by ledzep75 (53 comments )
Link Flag
IE not eating memory???
IE is also eating away quite some memory, you know.

The only thing is, M$ has hidden it so well in the OS, that the memory usage is not attributed to IE.
IE is constantly loaded in memory, so it looks as if it starts faster. So it is always consuming memory, even if you are not using it.
This is why FF "looks" slower, you are consuming twice the amount of memory: one is FF, the other is IE.

I've found that when Win98 is installed using Win98lite, (which completely removes IE) the whole system is much more performant, responsive, and of course safer to use. This on machines with even lower specs (96 MB, P233)

So my advise: find a copy of Win98lite, and reinstall you system. Your PC will thank you for it.
Posted by Steven N (487 comments )
Link Flag
Reply
They tell you on the site what the system requirments are. An your system is pretty close to the minimum spec listed on Mozilla.org for Firefox.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/system-requirements.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/system-requirements.html</a>

That said I run the current version of Firefox on 450 Mhz Pentium 3 with 196MB SDRAM running Windows XP Pro and it doesn't give me any problems.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Link Flag
Look at the big picture
Your system barely has enough ram to feed the glutton called windows, much less anything else. If you had a clue, you would realize that the low end of system requirements are just enough for it to run, not run well, just run.

IE is one of those things eating away at your ram and is preloaded, that is why it loads faster. IE is also bugg ridden and full of security holes and since it is integrated into windows, winblows inherits all those bugs and flaws on top of the mess that is windows specific.

Close the holes and squash the bugs. Use anything but IE. Your computer will that you for it.
Posted by (242 comments )
Link Flag
Firefox does NOT eat memory
I've heard this comment time and time again, so I did an experiment. I started up Firefox. I use the Noia 2.0 Extreme theme and have DOM inspector, User Agent Switcher, Web Developer, GoogleBar and AdBlock extensions installed and enabled (and Mozilla Calendar and Deepest Sender extensions awaiting an update to 1.0), so my Firefox probably uses more memory than most.

I have 9 pages in tabs as my home page. I looked at the memory usage in Task Manager. I then closed Firefox and opened the same pages in separate Firefox windows. Then I closed Firefox again and opened the same windows in IE (only choice is separate windows). Here's what I found:

IE: 57,152
FF Windows: 56,372
FF Tabs: 37,896

So in fact, IE uses more memory than Firefox. As for the speed argument, Firefox loads plenty fast enough for me, I really can't see any difference from IE, but then I have a fairly recent computer.

Besides, even if it is a little bit slower, it's a price I'm willing to pay for a slight security improvement and extensibility.
Posted by (4 comments )
Link Flag
You can easily make Firefox startup faster
FireTune (www.totalidea.com/freestuff4.htm) is a small programm that can help you speed up Firefox start time.

MJ
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
Better web browser, now better html editor too!
Firefox will only improve with time. The available version is a pre-release, the real V1.0 is due in several days.

I find the Microsoft license (and all other proprietary licenses) degrading. When you hit the accept button on installation/upgrade of IE you basically say: "I am a complete idiot with no self-respect, oh great MSFT please abuse me!"
Why do I have to insult myself every time I launch a program? Especially when we have alternatives?

Firefox, and other good free and open source software, doesn't abuse its users through its license and this, in itself, is a quality feature.

The good news is that Linspire are making an HTML wysiwyg editor (replacement for FrontPage) by improving and vastly increasing the capabilities of the Mozzila browser's "Composer" tool. Check it out here: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.nvu.com/download.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.nvu.com/download.html</a>
Posted by (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Better web browser, now better html editor too!
Firefox will only improve with time. The available version is a pre-release, the real V1.0 is due in several days.

I find the Microsoft license (and all other proprietary licenses) degrading. When you hit the accept button on installation/upgrade of IE you basically say: "I am a complete idiot with no self-respect, oh great MSFT please abuse me!"
Why do I have to insult myself every time I launch a program? Especially when we have alternatives?

Firefox, and other good free and open source software, doesn't abuse its users through its license and this, in itself, is a quality feature.

The good news is that Linspire are making an HTML wysiwyg editor (replacement for FrontPage) by improving and vastly increasing the capabilities of the Mozzila browser's "Composer" tool. Check it out here: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.nvu.com/download.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.nvu.com/download.html</a>
Posted by (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Colleges Recommending Firefox over IE
Because f the role played by MSIE in the propagation of spyware,
many colleges and universities are now recommending that
students switch from the default IE browser to Firefox. In terms
of support, it makes some sense.
Posted by Frank Lowney (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Reply
The university I attend hands out CDs to all new and return student that contains among other things a copy of Firefox and the Mozilla suit (both of which are marked highly recommended).
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Link Flag
Colleges Recommending Firefox over IE
Because f the role played by MSIE in the propagation of spyware,
many colleges and universities are now recommending that
students switch from the default IE browser to Firefox. In terms
of support, it makes some sense.
Posted by Frank Lowney (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Reply
The university I attend hands out CDs to all new and return student that contains among other things a copy of Firefox and the Mozilla suit (both of which are marked highly recommended).
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Link Flag
Only one question comes to mind now.
The Microsoft response to a better product that challenges one of their own products is clear. How long will it be before they make Mozilla an "offer" they won't refuse, buy out Mozilla, and bury it?
Posted by AlecWest (84 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Only one question comes to mind now.
The Microsoft response to a better product that challenges one of their own products is clear. How long will it be before they make Mozilla an "offer" they won't refuse, buy out Mozilla, and bury it?
Posted by AlecWest (84 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Opera underreported?
Given that Opera can mask as MSIE, is the technology able to catch that and give accurate numbers?
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Nope
Opera running in MSIE mode is detected as IE so your right it is under reported.
Posted by Fray9 (547 comments )
Link Flag
Opera underreported?
Given that Opera can mask as MSIE, is the technology able to catch that and give accurate numbers?
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Nope
Opera running in MSIE mode is detected as IE so your right it is under reported.
Posted by Fray9 (547 comments )
Link Flag
 

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