Google has dipped in the U.K. search engine market share beneath the 90 percent mark for the first time in five years, losing a modest 1.7 percentage points in the past year in the face of competitors.
According to Experian Hitwise statistics, Google now holds 89.3 percent of all U.K. Internet searches but faces competition from its rival search engines and portals. All of Google's main rivals -- Microsoft's Bing, Yahoo, and Ask -- have each increased a bit year over year.
Bing now carries nearly 5 percent of all search traffic, up from 3.8 percent; Yahoo has 3.3 percent, up from 2.8 percent, and Ask holds 2.1 percent, up from 1.8 percent.
Microsoft's gain in the U.K. search market was helped along by the launch of Windows 8, in which the software giant's latest operating system sets Bing as the computer's default search engine. While it is early days on the Windows 8 front, the new operating system could help boost Bing's figures over the next few months.
Bing, which has increased in overall search share partially thanks to an agreement set out between Microsoft and Yahoo allowing Yahoo sites to carry the "powered by Bing" search box in favor of its own in-house service, which was wrapped up in 2009. The search agreement was extended through to 2013, according to ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley.
Experian Hitwise noted that while Google clearly maintains the competitive edge, smaller and lesser heard-of search engines are gaining traction.
"Clearly, Google still maintains a huge competitive edge over the other search engines in the U.K. market. There are 18 times more searches conducted on Google Sites than on all the other search engines combined. However, this is encouraging news for Microsoft as Bing once again starts to gain some momentum and traction in the U.K. search market," the research firm said.