One of the things I have to review periodically is what browsers people are using. I am looking for a few things specifically. I don’t really care which browser is edging out the number 1 spot. No, I’m generally looking at the bottom of the scale, to which browsers are falling out of use, and are safe to discontinue testing on.
I’m currently particularly interested in the stats for Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 3.6. Why those 2? Starting with Firefox 5, Mozilla implemented automatic upgrades similar to (although a bit more manual than) the upgrades to Google Chrome. And if you look at the stats for Firefox 5+ or Chrome, you see very quick abandonment of preview versions when a new version comes out. Firefox 4 never got much traction, but Firefox 3.6 had a lot of holdouts that either upgraded and then rolled back or never upgraded at all.
Mozilla recently end-of-lifed Firefox 3.6, auto-updated users with auto-update enabled to version 12, and now it prompts the user to upgrade every time they open the browser. So I’ve been interested to see if this has had an impact on the usage. Sure enough, it looks like the usage has been on a steady decline the last couple months, and is now just over or under 2%, depending on where you look. It’ll probably stabilize right around 1% over the next month or two, which will account for businesses and users that insist on standing pat.
As for Internet Explorer7, IE8 and IE9 are pretty well entrenched. But Microsoft has been encouraging users to upgrade, to IE9 if they can, but at least to IE8. It looks like IE7 is continuing it’s steady but slow decline as well. But it is harder to judge if we can stop supporting it, as the numbers vary depending on where you look. Some sites show it as high as 8% usage, while other sites have it under 2%. If you average it out, it comes in at around 3%-4% usage, but is probably going to vary wildly from site to site, depending on the site demographics. I don’t expect to see IE7 drop much more than it has unless Microsoft puts out a Windows update to prompt users to abandon it, or just outright upgrades it for them like what Mozilla is doing with Firefox 3.6.
Now, this isn’t as easy as just pulling up the stats for my website. There are a couple of websites that I review that give me a decent average of browser usage on the web.
My favorite is probably still StatCounter, and I compare those numbers against NetMarketShare, who gives away just enough stats for free to get the information needed. Others I’ll cross-reference from time to time include GlobalStats, StatOwl and GetClicky.
In the end, if I can get them, I prefer to rely on the actual usage stats of the client’s website. But I like to see how the industry as a whole looks, and see the trends at a glance, and these tools help me stay on top of things.