Los Angeles — In a relentless race for market share, Mozilla’s Firefox 3.5 has managed to overtake Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 7 as the most popular single version web browser, at least according to one statistical snapshot of which browser versions Web surfers use.
Earlier, there was only few like Netscape and its Navigator. Then came the most famous one, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, announcing the first browser war. And for a long time, IE has retained the market dominance it gained by Netscape’s downfall to the present day.
And just last weekend, Mozilla announced a fifth beta of Firefox 3.6 rather than move on to a release candidate, which offers some new improvements, including the HTML 5 API, automating some important tasks which previously required a plug-in, such as video, a decision that will push the final code ship date into early 2010, a company executive said.
According to statistics published by market-tracker StatCounter, Firefox 3.5 is now the browser of choice for more users than any other browser version in the world, which has surpassed all other browsers, as a single version, in user choice. Internet Explorer still has the overall edge on all other browsers combined, with 55% of the mark share.
“Firefox 3.5 is now the most popular browser worldwide,” said Aodhan Cullen, CEO of StatCounter, the company that collected the statistics. Cullen promptly added that all the versions of Firefox being used is not equivalent in number all the versions of IE in use, but said the statistic is telling nonetheless, given that Firefox’s market share continues to increase while IE’s continues to erode.
Of course, there are challenges to the market leader, however only when analyzing specific versions of browsers does Firefox come out ahead. In the statistical snapshot above using the same data and covering that same week, a cumulative total of 55.44 percent of users used a version of Internet Explorer, while 32.12 percent of users deployed some version of Firefox.
Cullen said that Firefox’s popularity is especially remarkable given the fact that users must install the browser onto their computers, while IE comes already installed on new computers running Microsoft Windows. "The market has spoken," he said.
Also included in the update:
- Support for the HTML5 File API.
- A change to how third-party software integrates with Firefox to increase stability.
- The ability to run scripts asynchronously to speed up page load times.
- Users can now change their browser’s appearance with a single click, with built in support for Personas.
- Firefox 3.6 will alert users about out of date plugins to keep them safe.
- Open, native video can now be displayed full screen, and supports poster frames.
- Support for the WOFF font format.
- Support for new CSS, DOM and HTML5 web technologies.
Before champagne corks start popping and confetti falls from the sky, it is important to note that Firefox 3.5 is the most popular browser, and is now available for download on the Mozilla Web site, though the company warns that this is pre-release software, so users may encounter compatibility problems with some Web sites and add-ons.