IE losses share to others

Web sites saw visitors deserting Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser in favor of Apple’s Safari, Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome in December, according to Web analytics company Net Applications.Internet Explorer was used by 68.15 percent of Web surfers monitored in December, down from 69.77 percent in November and 71.27 percent in October, according to preliminary figures published by Net Applications on its Hitslink Web site Friday. IE’s share has slipped from around 75 percent since the start of 2008.

Safari, Firefox and Chrome all profited from the slide in IE’s popularity.

Firefox’s share rose to 21.34 percent, from 20.78 percent in November and 19.97 percent in October, while Safari’s climbed to 7.93 percent, from 7.13 percent in November and 6.57 percent in October.

Google’s Chrome browser topped the 1 percent mark in Net Applications’ survey for the first time, with a share of 1.04 percent, up from 0.83 percent in November and 0.74 percent in October.

Opera’s share remained steady at 0.71 percent.

Net Applications warned that decreased workplace use of the Internet in December may have biased its results.

Google Suggests Gmail Users Dump IE

Google Inc. is pushing users of its Gmail  e-mail service to dump Microsoft Corp.’s Internet Explorer for its own Chrome browser or Mozilla Corp.’s Firefox.

When users of IE6 reach Gmail.com, a “Get faster Gmail” message appears in the Web-based service’s menu bar. The message, in turn, links to a page on Google’s Web site that touts Chrome and Firefox 3 as being “twice as fast” at running Gmail.

Last week, the Gmail site also displayed the message to users browsing with Microsoft’s IE7, but Google has since discarded that version of the notice. Users running other browsers, including Apple Inc.’s Safari and Opera Software ASA’s namesake browser, haven’t been shown the speed-up message.

Google currently lists IE7, Firefox 2.0 and later releases, Chrome and Safari as the only supported browsers for Gmail . Others, including Opera and older editions of IE, Firefox and Safari, can be used to access the e-mail service but aren’t able to handle some of its features.

More than 21% of users who browsed the Internet last month ran IE6, according to Web metrics company Net Applications Inc. IE7, meanwhile, accounted for about 48% of the browser market during November, with Firefox 3 in third place with nearly 16%.

Google has been aggressively marketing Chrome since it stripped the browser of its beta label earlier this month. A day later, for example, Google dropped Firefox as the default browser bundled with Google Pack application bundle and added Chrome in its place.

Google, Mozilla and WebKit — the open-source project that provides the engine for Apple’s Safari — have spent much of the second half of this year trumpeting JavaScript performance improvements , a necessary move, they say, to make Gmail and other Web applications run at speeds similar to that of traditional desktop software.