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Web Browsers

Which Ones Are Most Frequently Used?

Copyright © 2008-2013, 2015, 2018, 2024 by David E. Ross

The information below clearly indicates that Chrome is NOT the only browser used today. This is especially significant for commercial Web sites, sites that attempt to attract customers. Thus, it is important that Web sites do not exclude non-Chrome browsers by incorporating "bells and whistles" that are peculiar to Chrome and its clones. After all, what business will succeed by ignoring as much as one-third or even half of its potential customers?

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Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

Netscape Navigator logo While earlier browsers had been developed, Netscape's Navigator brought the Web into everyday use. As the dominant product of Netscape, the browser was often called "Netscape", obscuring other products of the company.

Close to the time when Time Warner bought AOL, AOL bought Netscape. Shortly thereafter, AOL terminated further development of Navigator, turning all rights over to the non-profit Mozilla Foundation.

Navigator continued to be released by AOL's Netscape, but it was then merely a rebranded repackaging of Mozilla products, initially the browser from Mozilla Suite and then Firefox. In 2008, Netscape announced that it was discontinuing further releases of Navigator.

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Contrary to popular belief and publicity from Micro$oft, Internet Explorer (IE) and its successor Edge are not the only browsers available. While Micro$oft does indeed dominate the market for desktop computer operating systems, the user base held by Micro$oft's browsers has steadily dropped since 2003. During the same period, the user base held by Gecko browsers such as Firefox surged and then lost user base to Google's Chrome. Some surveys indicate that Gecko browsers now hold a greater user base than IE, Chrome is now the dominant browser. (While many discuss market share, browsers are generally freeware and are not marketed. Thus, I use the term user base here.)

Besides IE/Edge, Firefox (the principal browser product of the Mozilla organization), and Chrome, browsers currently available for various platforms include Opera and Apple's Safari.

Both users and browser developers would really like to know what user bases are held by different browsers. Since most browsers are distributed as freeware, however, there are no sales figures. Comparing download counts might indicate the size of user bases except for the fact that many downloaded software files are never installed while many other are often downloaded once and then installed on more than one computer.

To many, the only measure of user base is how frequent various browsers are used to access Web sites (the statistics presented below). This too is not quite accurate since it is skewed by individuals who are avid Web surfers.

Browser Surveys

Most of estimates of user base are derived by logging Web sites to determine which browsers are used to view their pages. These will vary widely (and wildly) depending on the audience for the logged Web sites. Thus, statistics on browser user base — and operating systems too — are biased according to which users are logged.

In Tables 1 and 2, Gecko represents Mozilla browsers such as Firefox, SeaMonkey, and others. IE/Edge, Gecko, Chrome, and Opera include versions for hand-held devices (e.g., mobile phones) unless data specific to such devices are available. "Others" includes browsers no one of which has at least 0.5% of the user base. In all three surveys, Chrome dominates the user base.

Table 1 is based on logging the W3Schools Web site operated by Refnes Data of Norway. This site is of primary interest to Webmasters. Thus, the statistics in this table reflect browser usage by those with a high technical interest in browsers.

Table 1: Browser User Base Determined by W3Schools
Browser FamilyUser Base
May '18Jan '24Change

From April 2018 through January 2024, W3Schools reports the overall share of the operating systems market held by all Windows versions dropped from 76.0% to 70.2%, with Windows 7 accounting for more of the Windows user base (1.3%) than the newer Windows 8 (0.5%).

Table 2 contains data reported by StatCounter. This table is based on logging many different, unrelated sites around the world whose owners agree to allow StatCounter to collect logging data.

Table 2: Browser User Base Determined by StatCounter
Browser FamilyUser Base
Apr '18Feb '24Change

I used to report browser data from Net Applications. Per the following announcement on the Net Applications Web site, however, that source is no longer available:


After 14 years of service and being used as a primary source in tens of thousands of articles and publications, we are retiring NetMarketShare in its current form. October, 2020 is the last month of data.

Why? An upcoming change in browsers ( will break our device detection technology and will cause inaccuracies for a long period of time.

Log of My Own Web Site

From the host for my own Web site, I downloaded the log of non-SSL visits to my site and examined the 34,181 entries for 1-7 February 2024. The results — excluding 13,282 entries by explicitly named bots — are shown in Table 3.

Table 3: Browser User Base from the Log of Visits to my Web Site
Browser FamilyUser Base
Apr '18Feb '24Change

* Includes Firefox, SeaMonkey, and Thunderbird. In February 2024, SeaMonkey's user base was 0.2%, twice the size of Opera's. Although Thunderbird is an E-mail client, it does support viewing simple Web pages.
** Includes the use of Safari on mobile phones.
*** Might include bots that do not have "bot" in their names and crawlers. Might also include browsers used by mobile phones.

"Phone" or "Mobile" appeared in 1,901 user agents (UAs) visiting my site, which was 9% of the non-bot visits. Note that I do not provide a version of my site that is designed for viewing on a phone.

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Some ISPs assert that video and music downloads consume too much band-width and cause Internet congestion. They want to charge users extra for such activities. Perhaps they should instead look at the band-width used by bots and spam.

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Among bots (which includes crawlers, scrapers, and spiders) with significant numbers of visits to my Web site during the examined week were:



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