With consumers abandoning Microsoft’s web browser for more rapidly updated alternatives such as Google Chrome, the future of Internet Explorer is dependent on consumers upgrading to new versions of Windows.

According to new data posted this week from a company called Net Applications, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer appears to be continuing a downward spiral. Over the last ten months, Microsoft has lost five percent of the web browser market while Google’s Chrome has gained about six percent. The amount of people using Internet Explorer is expected to fall below the 50 percent mark around late May of 2012. One bright point for Microsoft is that usage of its latest version of Internet Explorer, IE9, increased by about two percent from July to August. However, IE9 is limited to usage on Windows Vista and Windows 7. Windows XP users are limited to Internet Explorer 8 until upgrading.

net-applications-browser-marketAcross all operating systems, Internet Explorer 8 is the most popular browser at a bit over 30 percent of the market. Google Chrome 13 followed in second place at about 11 percent of the market and the aging, third place Internet Explorer 6 clocked in at about 10 percent. This version of Internet Explorer is often reviled by web designers and developers, but it seemed to hold fairly strong over July to August and barely dropped in usage. The ability of Google Chrome to quietly upgrade without bothering the consumer seems to have helped Google keep its user base consistently using the latest version of the browser.

Mozilla’s Firefox has remained fairly stagnant over the last 10 months, but has only lost about one percent of the browser market. Mozilla recently switched to an upgrade cycle identical to Google Chrome as the inability to roll out quick updates made the browser seem stale in comparison to Chrome. Apple’s Safari browser slowly gained market share over the last year to the tune of one percent and the Opera browser seems to be slowly fading away. Opera’s share dropped from 2.42 percent in September 2010 to 1.68 percent in August 2011.

Source: Digital Trends