IE loses top spot

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Internet Explorer overtaken

Internet Explorer has lost the top spot in the European browser wars.

Firefox, the open-source browser from the Mozilla Foundation, claimed 38.1 per cent of the European market in December 2010, according to figures from website analytics company StatCounter. Meanwhile, Microsoft's browser slumped to a 37.5 per cent share.

Gold star for Chrome

But the big winner of the past 12 months has actually been Google Chrome, rather than Firefox. Google's up-and-coming browser rose from 5.1 per cent of the market in December 2009 to 14.6 per cent a year later.

Aodhan Cullen, chief executive officer of StatCounter, commented on the findings. "This is the first time that IE has been dethroned from the number one spot in a major territory," he said. "This appears to be happening because Google's Chrome is stealing share from Internet Explorer while Firefox is mainly maintaining its existing share."

Despite falling behind in Europe, Internet Explorer remains the dominant player in North America with a 48.9 per cent market share. This compares favourably to both Firefox (26.7 per cent) and Chrome (12.8 per cent).

One of the reasons behind Internet Explorer's decline may have been the legal agreement struck between Microsoft and the European Commission to satisfy competition rules. Under the terms of the deal, Microsoft presented Windows users with a browser choice screen in February and March 2010 that offered information on rival products including Firefox and Chrome.