Browsing behavior in February: Internet Explorer and Chrome down, Firefox up

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For most of the last year, it looked like Chrome was gradually catching up with Firefox and was likely to overtake it in the first two months of this year. But that didn’t happen; for a third consecutive month, Chrome fell slightly and Firefox gained slightly.

Overall, the changes were minimal. Internet Explorer lost 0.12 points to 52.84%, Firefox gained 0.04 points to 20.92%, and Chrome lost the same amount, 0.04 points, to 18.90%. Safari had the biggest swing, gaining 0.34 points to 5.24%. Opera also rose slightly, gaining 0.04 points for a total of 1.71%.

This means that Firefox maintains a slim lead over Google’s browser. Last month, we speculated that Chrome‘s stunted growth could be linked to Google’s decision to penalize Chrome’s search ranking for an ad campaign that violated Google’s rules. Google. The sixty-day penalty will expire in the coming days, restoring Chrome’s top position in Google searches.

Another factor is that the source we use, Net Applications Net Market Share, has slightly changed the way it counts Chrome hits. Since version 13, Chrome has a “pre-render” feature, where it speculatively renders linked pages from the current one, so that if the user clicks on one of those links, it will be able to display the landing page faster. In Chrome 17, this has been extended to even include pages indirectly referenced from search queries entered in the address box.

This pre-rendering tends to inflate the raw visit count of Chrome users; visits are apparently made to sites even if the user has never actually sees the resulting page. Net Applications estimates that around 4.3% of all Chrome hits on websites are due to this pre-rendering. The company is changing its tracking tool so that in the future, only pages actually seen by the user are counted, thanks to an API offered by Google to detect the visibility of the page.

In mobile, for the second time in six months, Safari surged, apparently at the expense of Opera Mini. Mobile use is still very much in the minority; together, mobile traffic represents only 7.2% of the market.

Chrome users continue to be on the auto-upgrade treadmill. Many Firefox users still aren’t. Support for version 3.6 ends in the next few weeks, with Firefox 10 being considered the extended support release that will be patched for about a year. Enterprise users were quick to complain about Mozilla’s rapid release strategy, and the extended support release is Mozilla’s answer to those users.

Anyone sticking with 3.6, while waiting for a long-lived version of Firefox, should upgrade to 10. Whether or not people do that remains to be seen.

Use of Internet Explorer 8 and 9 increased last month, with versions 6 and 7 declining. Microsoft is slowly starting to offer Internet Explorer 9 as an automatic update, at least to users who haven’t yet rejected its installation, but so far this policy seems to have done little to speed up the transition to the current version. of the Redmond Browser.

At Ars, Chrome has established itself as the dominant browser.

Listing Image By static.arstechnica.net

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