IE Gains Market Share, But Privacy Questions Linger


IE’s market share rises to 60.74 percent, despite questions about the browser’s priorities with regard to privacy

Microsoft saw market share for Internet Explorer climb in July, even as questions arose about the browser’s privacy settings.

Net Applications has estimated Internet Explorer’s July market-share at 60.74 percent, an increase from June’s 60.32 percent, followed by Firefox with 22.91 percent, Chrome with 7.16 percent, Safari with 5.09 percent, and Opera with 2.45 percent.

Chrome dipped 0.08 percent from June, after months of solid gains, while Firefox declined 0.9 percent. Those losses were highlighted by Microsoft in a 1 August posting on The Windows Blog, with Ryan Gavin, senior director of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer business and marketing, crowing that “protection of your security and privacy by Internet Explorer 8 continues to resonate with customers”.

Security concerns

But Microsoft is also facing questions about Internet Explorer’s priorities with regard to privacy. A widely circulated 1 August article in The Wall Street Journal suggests that the Internet Explorer team’s decision to “design… software to automatically thwart common tracking tools” was fiercely resisted by company executives who thought those tools would impede their online-ad selling operation.

The article quotes Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, as saying the company tried to combine those differing viewpoints into a single initiative that balanced “the privacy interests of consumers and the critical role advertising plays in content”.

Microsoft responded to those privacy concerns with a 1 August posting on The Windows Internet Explorer Weblog, insisting that “browsing the web is fundamentally an information exchange” and that “your web browser offers information in order to get information”. That posting also highlighted Internet Explorer’s InPrivate Filtering, which allows users to regulate their privacy settings.

IE8 on the rise

User adoption of Internet Explorer 8 continues to rise, even as market share for Internet Explorer 6 and 7 decline. In previous statements, Microsoft executives have attempted to portray those trends as deliberate on the company’s part, as it encourages users to adopt the latest browser. However, Microsoft has also pledged support for Internet Explorer 6 through April 2014, despite calls from some quarters to phase it out.

During Microsoft’s Financial Analyst Meeting 29 July, Microsoft COO Kevin Turner said that the company would release a beta version of the upcoming Internet Explorer 9 in September. Originally previewed at Microsoft’s MIX 2010 conference in Las Vegas, IE 9 will support HTML5, as well as leverage web technologies to take full advantage of PC hardware.

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