Microsoft's Internet Explorer Reverses Market Share Slide

Statistics released Sunday by market researcher Net Application show that IE9, the most current release of the Microsoft browser, has been steadily gaining market traction since its debut one year ago this month. Net Applications bases its statistics on browser usage across the thousands of Web sites the company monitors.

All editions of IE combined held a 53.83 percent share of the worldwide browser market in March, according to Net Applications, up from 52.84 percent in February. Firefox held a 20.55 percent share, down from 20.92 percent in February, while Chrome's market share fell to 18.57 percent in March from 18.90 percent in February.

[Related: Microsoft To Provide Automatic Internet Explorer Updates ]

"As March comes to a close and we review the latest usage share data from Net Applications, we continue to see great strides made against our core metric: IE9 share on Windows 7," wrote Roger Capriotti, director of Internet Explorer product marketing, in a blog post Sunday. "This month in the US nearly 50 percent of Windows 7 users are experiencing the best the Web has to offer with IE9."

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Internet Explorer has, with only an occasional monthly rise, seen its share of the worldwide browser market steadily shrink for several years. In September 2009, for example, all editions of IE accounted for 65.71 percent of the browser market.

The product's market share hit bottom in December at 51.87 percent, rose to 52.96 percent in January before dipping slightly to 52.84 percent in February.

While the market shares held by older editions of IE have been shrinking, IE9 has steadily won converts. From 4.42 percent share of the worldwide browser market in May 2011, shortly after its launch, IE9 has gained market share every month, including a big jump from 12.60 percent in February to 15.17 percent in March.

Firefox's market share has been slowly declining, from 22.87 percent in May 2011 to 20.55 percent in March.

But indications that Chrome may have plateaued must have Google worried. After growing to a market-share high of 19.11 percent in December, Chrome usage dropped to 18.94 percent in January, 18.90 percent in February and 18.57 percent in March.

Before this year, IE's steady decline and Chrome's growing market share led some industry analysts to predict a battle between the two for the top spot in coming years. But the latest numbers indicate that may not happen.