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IE slips in usage share; Chrome resumes growth

In August, earlier trends reasserted themselves, with IE dipping, Chrome rising, and Firefox flat. Microsoft is happy to see IE6 on its way out.

IE remains the dominant browser, but its share has slipped in the last year as Chrome rose.
IE remains the dominant browser, but its share has slipped in the last year as Chrome rose. Net Applications / Stephen Shankland/CNET

Internet Explorer's growth slowed once again, and Chrome shook off its slump in August, new statistics show.

Although Microsoft made progress in its goal to exterminate IE6 in favor of IE8's more modern and secure design, Internet Explorer overall slipped from 60.7 percent to 60.4 percent of global usage, as measured by Net Applications.

Chrome had slipped for the first time in its history, sinking to 7.2 percent in July, but returned to growth with 7.5 percent of August usage, Net Applications said.

Mozilla's Firefox market share was essentially flat, with 22.9 percent usage. Apple's Safari rose from 5.1 percent to 5.2 percent, and Opera dipped from 2.5 percent to 2.4 percent.

After years in which IE's dominance led to a largely dormant browser market, the software has become highly competitive again, with new entrants and new uses. The Web is growing increasingly significant as a medium not just for browsing content but also for using applications; as Web technology evolves, so must browsers.

IE has been a laggard at this evolution, but Microsoft is trying to dramatically overhaul its browser with the upcoming IE9. It's released several Platform Preview versions in 2010 and plans to launch the first IE9 beta on September 15.

Microsoft's overall usage may have slipped for August, but the company is happy to see IE8 growing at the expense of IE6.

"For August, IE share worldwide decreased 0.34 [percentage points] to 60.40 percent worldwide, but in a world of customer choice, we are pleased that people are continuing to choose Internet Explorer 8 three times more often than other browsers when they make that move [away from IE6]," said Ryan Gavin, senior director of Internet Explorer Business and Marketing, in a blog post Wednesday. "While there is still a significant number of Internet Explorer 6 users who have not upgraded, most of these users are concentrated in developing or emerging markets, as well as enterprises with substantial application dependencies that take time to migrate."

Firefox, meanwhile, is racing to finish Firefox 4, in beta testing now but still 692 bugs and a few features away from final release. Google is set to release Chrome 6 soon, though with its behind-the-scenes automatic-update feature, few people know which version they're using.