Google's Chrome browser has overtaken Mozilla's Firefox in market share, while Microsoft's Internet Explorer shows signs of reversing its long downward slide.
Chrome accounted for 25.96 percent of global browser usage in November, according to StatCounter Global Stats, the research arm of Web analytics firm StatCounter. That's up from 25 percent in October and 13.35 percent in November 2010.
Firefox's market share dipped in November to 25.23 percent from 26.39 percent in October. The open-source browser's market share has been slowly-but-steadily falling for some time: In November 2010 Firefox held a 31.17 percent market share.
Microsoft IE, meanwhile, recorded a 40.63 percent market share in November, up from 40.18 percent in October. That marked the lowest point of a long market-share slide for IE: One year ago the Microsoft browser's share of global usage was 48.16 percent.
Microsoft launched IE 9, the current version of the browser, back in March and the vendor has been urging customers to upgrade from aging versions of IE.
At the Worldwide Partner Conference in July Microsoft COO Kevin Turner exhorted partners to push to get customers to upgrade, even going so far as to called IE 6 "dead." The company created a Website counting down IE 6's usage (currently 8.3 percent among all IE users) to a goal of less than 1 percent worldwide.
StatCounter said the rise of Chrome and Internet Explorer's continued lead is setting up a fight between Google and Microsoft for browser dominance. "We can look forward to a fascinating battle between Microsoft and Google as the pace of growth for Chrome suggests that it will become a real rival to Internet Explorer globally," said Aodhan Cullen, StatCounter CEO, in a statement.
Microsoft is likely to benefit from the expiration earlier this year of an antitrust consent decree with the U.S. Dept. of Justice that limited how tightly Microsoft could tie Internet Explorer to Windows. Early versions of Windows 8, the next generation of the desktop OS that's due sometime in 2012, have been deeply intertwined with IE 10, the next release of the Microsoft browser that's currently under development.
In the U.S. Internet Explorer has a 50.66 percent market share, up slightly from 50.24 percent one year ago, according to StatCounter.
Apple's Safari browser had a 5.92 percent market share in November, down a bit from 5.93 percent in October, but up from 4.70 percent one year earlier. Opera's market share continues to hover under the 2 percent mark.
StatCounter bases its findings on aggregate data about browser usage collected from a network of 3 million Websites.