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Fairfax Media

2016 was the year Chrome became most popular browser

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is no longer the world’s most popular web browser

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 January, 2017, 3:19pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 January, 2017, 3:20pm

By Tim Biggs

Though its decline has been a long time coming, 2016 was the year that the iconic Internet Explorer ceased to be the most popular way to browse the web.

Though IE was the most popular browser in the world at this time last year, reports Ars Technica, citing numbers from Net Market Share, 2017 has heralded a new king in the form of Google Chrome.

The IE brand was more or less abandoned in 2015 when Microsoft announced it was working on new software, eventually revealed as Microsoft Edge. At the end of 2015, 46 per cent of web users were using IE — then built on 20 years of history — as their favoured browser. But now, even though the software is still working and receives security updates, that number has fallen to 21 per cent.

Yet those fleeing IE have not turned to Edge, which is only available on Windows 10. Microsoft’s new browser started 2016 with 2.8 per cent of web users, finishing at just 5.3 per cent, giving Microsoft around a quarter of the market between its two offerings.

On the other hand, the platform-agnostic Chrome browser increased its share from 32 per cent at this time last year to 56 per cent by the end of 2016, meaning it’s used by a majority of web users overall.

As well as being available on the most devices, Chrome excels at security and compatibility and has the advantage of being advertised through Google’s various sites and services.

Longtime underdog Firefox makes up much of the remainder, with 12 per cent of web users favouring it, leaving around six per cent of people using smaller browsers like Opera, Vivaldi and Brave.

Comparing the browser figures to the number of users who have upgraded to Windows 10, Ars Technica calculates that only 22 per cent of Windows 10 users are using Edge, while 32 per cent of those on older versions of Windows have stuck with IE. This suggests that either people generally prefer IE to Edge, or that the kind of people who upgrade to new operating systems when possible are not interested in using a Microsoft browser.

Goodbye Internet Explorer: 2016 was the year Chrome became most popular browser