Browser Wars 2009 Produces Big Losers


In 2009 the stage was set. There would be stiff competition between IE8, Chrome, and Firefox, in the continuing Browser Wars. The favorites all had good reason to expect gains in market share for the year.

In January, Internet Explorer led the pack with almost 70% of the market. That lead had been slipping fast due at least partially to the poor adoption of Windows Vista and IE7. The introduction of Windows 7 and IE8 promised to correct that. There was nothing really earth shattering about IE 8, but the advantage of being part of a widely accepted Windows 7 would undoubtedly work its magic.

Firefox had been increasing its share, all but slowly, and devotees were hoping for faster gains in the new year. The unpopularity of Vista had helped Firefox and there was some slight apprehension among FireFox users because of the Windows 7/IE8 release. Would it slow the rise of Firefox? Time would tell.

Chrome was launched and immediately became a major player. The popularity of Google’s search bled over and gave some heightened expectations for Chrome the browser. My own expectations were that Chrome would finish the year at somewhere around 6% to 8% share. Confirmation of Chrome’s speed and talk of the new streamlined DNS pre-resolution, lead to that somewhat unrealistic expectation. Will Chrome become the central core of Google’s new Web Based Operating System? Will Chrome be a major booster of cloud computing?

The charts below tell the story. The March 2009 chart is on the left and the November 2009 chart is on the right.


Changes seen this year are substantial, but the rate of change doesn’t seem to be the story here. It’s the fact that two major players allowed for substantial gains by Chrome, Firefox, and even Opera. Safari’s failure to supply a browser that works as well on Windows as it does on Mac, along with Google’s release of Chrome for Mac OS X, put Chrome in the number 3 position over Safari but well behind FireFox.
Internet Explorer and Safari had combined losses of 7.48% while Chrome, Firefox and Opera had combined gains of 7.35%.

2009 turned out to be an interesting year for the Browser Wars but 2010 is shapping up to be even better. Development of HTML 5 and Micorsoft’s shift from W7 to IE9 promises to make next year even more exciting than the last. 20091224DEC-2005-Pie This year will be pivotal for Microsoft. It must stop the bleeding if it wants to maintain it’s dominant position. The push for browsers to replace old school operating systems makes The Browser Wars even more important than they were initially. The rate of loss for Internet Explorer is increasing as can be seen in this 2005 chart. PC dominance by Microsoft Windows may become a thing of the past as browsers battle for control of your computer.


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33 thoughts on “Browser Wars 2009 Produces Big Losers”

  1. “Donna Says:
    December 31st, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Switched over to FF first part of year due to constant “hanggap” issues with IE. Only use IE to update security patches and a few other times when applications will not work in FF. Now having issues downloading latest MS updates and getting nowhere fast with MS. They keep sending me information to correct the problem. I’m computer illiterate and not a programmer and not to happy with MS new support system.”

    Additional note about MS & their new support system – spent 5 hours straight on the phone with them – they can’t fix their own problems and told me to quit downloading their security patches. Some support!

  2. Since this article I started using Chrome more and more. And what I have found is that it works with netflix instant watch it now on old AMD PC’s that can’t download silverlight. I havn’t tried chrome on ubuntu and netflix but that is my next step.

    All in all chrome is so much better than ie for me.

  3. I suspect the number of computers running IE is inflated because many applications, sites and servers will only run with IE.

    No doubt many others just like me have IE only because of the restrictions on some other browsers.

    I use IE only when the site demands it and would love to be rid of it. Avagoodnewyear……:)

  4. I have Windows 7 with both IE8 and Firefox. Quite happy so far. I don’t understand the earlier comment about being forced by Microsoft to change from Outlook to Windows Live Mail. I haven’t even looked at Windows Live Mail.

  5. i have been using FLOCK since it began , never had any probs,i tried safari, sorry no, FIREFOX i use for my secondry homepage.
    i have used OPERA but dont like the search part of it,

  6. Thank you JD.

    You are correct. Several of the articles I read had Chrome already ahead of Safari but the charts I used don’t show this because they are not actual End Of The Year. Figures for December put Chrome ahead of Safari.

    Thank you for the correction.

  7. I have used Firefox for many years now and find IE difficult to use if I am on another machine, as for IE8 well it just doesn’t run all applications. I was on a course recently and three guys had IE8 installed, they couldn’t get the database application we were using to work. They installed Firefox in a couple of minutes, problem solved.

    Being open sourced Firefox is always being updated and in my opinion is the best browser available. As to email I use Thunderbird and the recent update to V3 is the best yet as it enables muliple email to be opened in tabs.

  8. Switched over to FF first part of year due to constant “hanggap” issues with IE. Only use IE to update security patches and a few other times when applications will not work in FF. Now having issues downloading latest MS updates and getting nowhere fast with MS. They keep sending me information to correct the problem. I’m computer illiterate and not a programmer and not to happy with MS new support system.

  9. I do like Firefox – it (which I think was still called Firebird) was in fact my second browser after Internet Explorer, then only weeks later I knew about and started using Opera.

    I love Opera because it loads faster than FF, and it’s very lightweight, and the biggest reason would be that since I knew it until today, it’s been always good towards the RAM usage. I’m not saying it uses very less memory, but at least, better than what I’ve experienced with FF. Maybe on a (very) modern PC/laptop, one wouldn’t realize it. 😉


  10. Here I am, a proud Opera user since early 2005. 🙂
    Happy Christmas 2009 to all fellow Christians and a very blessed New Year 2010 to anyone!

  11. Agreed – Windows Live very quirky, although awfully easy for multiple accounts! Check out: for a super substitute compatible with WIN 7 and a free vers.

    Re – Browsers: I am totally amazed at the very low 8% and 4% market shares for Apple’s Safari. I regularly use 4 browsers, all on WIN 7, (Safaria-default, Firefox 3.5.6, Explorer 8.0, and Opera), with a Samsung 23″ monitor. Safari is the fastest, presents most consistently in wide screen, the Top Sites feature (as Home Page) is a must for everyone, and Safari is secure. I now only use Explorer because a few corporate intranets I need are browser specific! In my humble opinion, going back as far as the original Netscape browser wars in the early 1990’s, Safari is by far my most satisfactory browsing experience (Firefox 2nd!). If Firefox had “Top Sites”, I would have a dilemma on my hands! It is superior to IE8 in so many ways. I am now checking out Snow Leopard on a MAC next, because I am liking Apple stuff so much – if only browsers “thought” humanistically like an iPhone! Nirvana!

  12. I started using Chrome 2 weeks ago when I got really aggravated with how slow IE8 was and how much CPU it was using. Although it took a little getting used to, I just love it now. It is so much faster and have run vary speed tests and my download speeds have improved dramatically. I also like the incognito browsing for financial sites.

  13. Interesting article. Personally, I like IE8 but it still suffers from too many crashes. Can’t stand Chrome and was never a big Firefox fan (although I do have FF installed on both OS’s, I’ll close it before attempting to download with it or open tabs). My browser of choice right now is Opera 10.1. Have never had a crash, was no big learning curve as its similar to IE, and its as fast as anything else I’ve tried.

  14. When IE7 was MS best offering i tried Firefox and Safari. Safari was functionally limited and did not work with too many sites, firefox i just could not get on with and the uninstall was messy. When Chrome came along I treid and enjoyed its speed but hated its very childish UI. IE8 brought me back to MS and as a very happy W7 user I am am for the fisrt time in years happy with my browser. One thing really confuses me though – the large commnity of users who hate MS for their domninance seem to love Google everything – Google’s dominance in search is just as dangerous as MS in OS. Be careful what you wish for!

  15. I use RoboForm and use IE8 with few problems.ATM I have 4 open with 1 of those having 4 tabs.I usually have more than that. Unless I leave it open overnight I seldom have any trouble,occasionally I have to reboot if it’s sluggish, but not daily.

    I have FF installed but seldom use it. For some reason I have trouble completely closing FF and FF won’t let me open it with it already running.

  16. There’s a mistake in the article, it states:

    “along with Google’s release of Chrome for Mac OS X, put Chrome in the number 3 position over Safari”

    Yet the pic clearly shows it in 4th.

  17. I use RoboForm to hold all my log-ins. I completely rely upon it. Unfortunately, RoboForm is NOT Chrome compatible. SO I use IE where I need to log in, and Chrome otherwise – it’s MUCH faster.

  18. I seem to be one of those who love all things Google and tried CHROME on my laptop when it first came out. I LOVE it! I cannot go back to IE happily…it just seems so sluggish to me now.

    But may try that tip that Jody mentioned about seeing her various gmail accounts by opening them in different browsers.

    I now use CHROME on both my computers and am quite happy with it.

  19. I guess I’m really the odd-man-out here: I use SeaMonkey. The mail client is quick, easy to use, and I can edit anything in it.

    Plus, there’s a couple of apps that when I get to a Mozilla Unfriendly page, I can right-click it and “spoof” the site into thinking I’ve got IE or right-click and open the site in IE.

    There’s too many features I like about SeaMonkey to list them all, but those who use it know what I’m talking about.

  20. I’m going to have to be the odd man out regarding Windows Live Mail. For years folks whined about having to buy Office to get Outlook, and how Outlook Express wasn’t all that…

    Microsoft listened and separated the application. Now the folks on the other side of the fence are whining.

    Windows Live mail is greatly improved over OE, allows multiple accounts to be setup (rather easily, especially if you have saved our information) from multiple sources. I have 12 separate accounts for various reasons. And the all come from different sources. You can set to check download from all, or choose to check/download from each, there is rich text, plain text and html formats, files and images are easier to incorporate (you can even edit images right in the email) spell check is included (something not with OE), Live is much more protective (against virus, phishing, etc).

    Sorry, but I simply must disagree with those that hate it.

  21. I have tried time and time again but I’ve never been able to find any love for Firefox. It just doesn’t do things the way I like. I only use it for some very special purposes that aren’t available in IE. I also have Chrome, Opera and Safari but they’re lucky if I use them once a year.

  22. Since switching to WIn 7 I have not yet installed firefox but have started using chrome will probably install firefox also. I fall in the ranks of one that uses multiple browsers as stated above IE8 doesn’t like having a lot of tabs open and will just lock up. It happens to me a several times a day. Unfortunately it seems theres always a site that requires IE so I can’t seem to get away from using IE.

    So far Chrome seems to run faster than IE8 with less clogging in multiple tabs.

    I am disappointedly using winlive. Was hoping if I logged in from another pc all my mail accounts would be there but it didnt’ work that way.

  23. I am not happy with the Vista shift from OE to Windows live mail. I find it less user friendly than OE and definitely less easy for beginners than OE Express. I don’t understand why Microsoft, with all of the technocrats they employ, cannot find systems that work seamlessly.

    Good article. I am glad to see others share my feelings. Competition should provide improved products for us consumers.

  24. For the record, Netscape is dead. The only way you can even use it is if you happen to find some old version online somewhere for download. There is no official Netscape site anymore.

  25. I run 6 browsers simultaneously on a daily basis when messing around with the Myspace app, Mobsters. IE-8 is always way out front on speed, followed by Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Flock, and Opera, respectively. I tried Maxthon, but it was problematic, so I switched to Flock. Note that Maxthon acted like no more than an IE skin, and if you use saved logins, logging in with Maxthon will change the remembered login for IE (very very annoying). Opera is truely horrible, refusing to load many pages without multiple refreshes. I have no problems with Flock, FF, Chrome, or Safari, and speed is the only difference that I see in performance. Safari does have the cool multi-thumbnail mainpage, if you need/like that kind of thing.

  26. I wonder how accurate these numbers really are. On my Windows 7 machine I generally run Firefox, Chrome, and IE concurrently. Why? It is the easiest way to have more than one gmail account open. Restoring all my tabs works better. (Two or 3 sessions of Firefox with 10 tabs per session usually doesn’t restore correctly and FF seems to get cranky with that many tabs/sessions.)

    My hotmail accounts runs best in IE.

    At work we are techinically not allowed to run other browsers besides IE. Though I have Chrome and Firefox on my machine for testing websites to fix issues with our proxy server.

    Lastly, I use an iPhone, so I guess I am also a percentage of the Safari users.

  27. live tech support

    I think 2010 will be the year of google chrome. When chrome OS would be released, then peoples must would interested with chrome browser. IE9 also seems good. So the competition would be exciting in 2010.

  28. Very interesting article, I too am getting ready to make the jump to something better. I find if absolutley astonishing that Microsoft would force everyone from using Outlook, which I think is a good email program, onto their new Windows Live Mail that sucks real bad. I for one am tired of Microsoft taking away my choice of what I want to use in my Business and Personal computing life. So, one day, good bye Microsoft, you are bringing this all on yourself.

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