Nov. 4, 2011 at 10:48 AM ET
In the latest round of Web browser brawls, Microsoft's Internet Explorer is slipping closer and closer to the 50 percent mark in desktop use for the first time. The contender stealing the most market share? Google's Chrome.
As measured by NetMarketShare, IE is in a steady free fall that began more than a year ago, when its browser market share was 60.3 percent among those who have online access at home. It's now at 52.63 percent.
(Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)
Gaining, at IE's expense, is Chrome, which rose from 9.57 percent in December 2010 to 17.62 percent as of October 2011. The No. 2 Firefox held steady, more or less, at 22.52 percent, but did drop one percentage point in December 2010. Also dropping: Opera, to 1.56 percent from 2.23 percent.
Others reported previously that IE had already dipped below 50 percent, but when we verified the numbers with NetMarketShare, that turned out to be untrue as of yet, as far as desktop-based browsers go.
Here's a breakdown of the different versions of browsers also measured by NetMarketShare:
Of the versions of IE people are using, IE 8 is by far most popular, at 29 percent, but that is also a drop from 34.3 percent in December 2010. IE 9 barely makes 10 percent at 9.79 percent, but it has the biggest gain among the IE versions, coming from 0.48 perecent in December 2010. Maybe some of that rise can be attributed to reports over the past year that peg it as the safest Web browser, at least when it comes to blocking malware. This version also saw 2.3 million downloads in the first 24 hours of its release in March.
People are still also using IE 6, if you can believe it, although that share is now down to 7.5 percent. It was almost double that a year ago.
Safari also gained over the same time period, from 3.97 percent to 5.43 percent.
But Safari dominates on mobile phones and tablets, where it is the primary browser for 62.03 percent of users, also according to NetMarketShare. Android is a distant second at 18.6 percent. IE on mobile devices barely makes a dent at 0.39 percent.