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Microsoft IE 8 is taking a big chunk out of IE 7

Microsoft's IE 8 is doing very well, but at IE 7's expense. Meanwhile, Firefox 3.5 has topped 30 million downloads and shows every intention of giving Microsoft a run for its money.

Microsoft may be its own toughest competitor. As noted by Mozilla's Asa Dotzler, Microsoft's new Internet Explorer 8 browser is taking the browser market by long as you define "browser market" as "Internet Explorer 7." Mozilla's Firefox 3.5 browser, at 30 million downloads and counting, isn't being affected by IE 8's uptake. But then, neither is IE 6.

It's only IE 7 that is getting squeezed by IE 8. And you thought they were friends...

Here's the data on IE market share:

Asa Dotzler (Data from Net Applications)

This suggests that Firefox, with roughly 22 percent of browser market share, is the second-most widely used browser on the planet. Not bad when you consider the previous state of affairs when Firefox 1.0 was launched, as Dotzler does:

Back then IE 6 was the most popular browser with almost 85% of Web usage followed by older IE versions accounting for another 10 points of share, and with all other vendors' browsers accounting for only 5% of usage.

In other words, we have real competition again, competition that sees an open-source upstart seriously challenge Microsoft for first place in browser usage. Mozilla has accomplished this by making Firefox easy to use, easy to contribute to (which keeps getting easier, as Glyn Moody reports), and powerful through a large and growing community.

Importantly, Mozilla has had to fight for every user. Unlike IE, Firefox isn't pre-installed with Windows. That "30 million" number I cited above? That's not even due to an auto-update feature, which Mozilla has yet to turn on. Once that happens, Firefox 3.5's impressive download numbers should soar.

Perhaps Microsoft should stop competing with itself and start competing with Firefox...?

Follow me on Twitter @mjasay.