Web Browser Milestones Passed

Last October I wrote about some milestones in web browser marketshare. Specifically, I was looking forward to IE7 overtaking IE6, and to Firefox overtaking IE6. Well, both of those have finally happened, at least on this site, and a little more besides. Take a look at these stats from May 2008:

Usage Browser Notes
61.2% IE (all)
35.7% IE 7
28.6% Firefox (all)
26.4% Firefox 2
25.1% IE 6
4.7% Safari
1.9% Mozilla (still not sure if this is SeaMonkey or a catch-all)
1.4% Opera
1.0% Firefox 3

Back when I wrote the original post, I had a series of 5 or 6 milestones in mind, but decided to keep it simple and only post the first two. The next one after Firefox passing IE6 was for Firefox 2+ to pass IE6. I should have been checking in more frequently, since it already has.

So what’s next? Well, I expect to see the following in the next year or two:

  • Firefox 3 replacing Firefox 2. It’s already got a strong pre-release following. (Fx2 will stick around while there are still Win98 and WinMe users, but they’re already at less than 1% here and falling.)
  • Firefox 1 fading into the sunset in favor of newer, more capable releases.
  • Netscape disappearing into history. (It’s already below 1% here.)
  • IE6 dropping below 25%, 20%, 10% (watching it go to single digits will be satisfying), and finally 1%.
  • Safari approaching 10%. It’s holding steady here, but keeps climbing globally.

Things I’d like to see, but am less confident about in the near-term:

  • IE6 disappearing from the radar. There are hold-outs, both at the user and the sysadmin level, plus a sizeable minority on Windows 2000. Plus I think Microsoft is committed to supporting IE6 through the lifetime of Windows XP, which means they’ll keep shipping security fixes until 2014. On the other hand, IE 5.0 is technically still supported as part of Windows 2000, but I see very few IE5 visitors these days.
  • IE8 replacing IE7, for most of the same reasons it’s taking so long for IE7 to replace IE6.
  • Opera breaking out of its steady marketshare and hitting a solid 5%. That would make them much harder to ignore. (10% would be better, since Safari’s still struggling for recognition at 6%.) Of course, to get there they’ll have to pull off a major publicity coup.
  • IE dropping below 50%. Could be done, but it’ll be tough. If there’s no majority browser, it’ll be very difficult to justify building a site for one browser only.

Of course, these will probably all happen faster locally than globally, since the audience seems to skew slightly toward the alternatives, but then local stats are the ones that actually matter for a specific site.

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