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Chrome Set To Become No. 2 Browser

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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Google’s Chrome has taken more market share away from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, which is set to drop below 50 percent, according to new figures

Google’s Chrome browser is on track to become the second most popular web browser after Microsoft’s Internet Explorer within the next few weeks, as IE continues to slide, according to new figures.

IE’s share of users continued to slide in December after a pause in November, the only month of 2011 in which it didn’t lose share, according to Net Applications.

Share loss

IE lost more than seven percentage points during the course of the year and now stands at 51.9 percent. It could dip below 50 percent by March, Net Applications said.

Meanwhile, Chrome gained nine-tenths of a percentage point in December, rising to 19.1 percent, Net Applications said. It should hit the 20 percent mark in January or February, and is on track to take the No. 2 spot from Firefox in March, the company predicted.

Chrome gained 8.8 percent share during 2011, according to Net Applications’ figures, which are based on browser usage figures from the 40,000 websites the company monitors.

Microsoft responded that what really matters is IE’s share on Windows 7, where IE8 and IE9 have made a stronger showing.

“As of November, IE9 usage share on Windows 7 worldwide was higher than all versions of Chrome and all versions of Firefox – second only to IE8,” said Roger Capriotti, Microsoft’s head of IE marketing, in a blog post on 30 December. “Based on where the December data currently stands, we’re pleased to say IE9 is still following that trajectory and will soon take the top spot from IE8 on Windows 7, with usage share expected to come in at nearly 25.6 percent this month.”

IE gamble

Microsoft is currently in the midst of an aggressive gamble with IE9. The company did not make the browser compatible with Windows XP, which still has a large market share, and in December announced it would begin automatically upgrading users of older browsers to the newer browser by default.

Chrome already delivers automatic updates and Mozilla has moved towards introducing “silent updates” with its Firefox Update Service.

IE9 currently has 11.5 user share, up 1.2 percent over November, while IE8 holds 27.3 percent. IE7 dropped to 4.8 percent, while IE6 fell to 7.3 percent.

Firefox fell three-tenths of a point in December to 1.9 points, ending at 21.8 percent, while Apple’s Safari browser remained steady at 5 percent and Opera gained one-tenth of a point to reach 1.7 percent.