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Firefox draws 2.6 million surfers in March

Open-source browser continues to lure many Net users, encroaching on IE's dominant market share.

The Firefox browser continues to be a beacon for many Internet users.

More than 2.6 million people visited the Firefox Web site in March to obtain more information about the open-source software and perhaps download it, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. That's up from 2.2 million in January and 1.6 million in February.

Firefox has come on like gangbusters since last year, and now holds approximately 5 percent of the browser market. That's a small share, but the arrival of the browser--which has garnered attention in part as an alternative to Microsoft's Internet Explorer--has coincided with IE's dominant market share dipping below 90 percent.

"Firefox gives Web surfers a simple tool that blocks unsolicited windows, is less susceptible to virus attacks, and offers a unique means of navigating multiple sites within a single browser," Ken Cassar, director of strategic analytics at Nielsen/NetRatings, said in a statement.

The Firefox site first met Nielsen/NetRatings' minimum reporting levels in June 2004, when 795,000 people visited the site.

The research company also said that, the Web site of the Mozilla Foundation, which developed Firefox, registered 4.1 million unique visitors in March. That's an increase from 3.4 million in January and 3.1 million in February, and up considerably from 1.1 million in March 2004.