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Microsoft Says Chrome Market Share Records are Misleading

By - Source: Microsoft | B 36 comments

Part of the entertainment of watching browser market share statistics is the interpretation of data, the consideration of validity as well as the reaction of browser makers.

Obviously, statistics carry marketing value in a negative or positive view and there is a clear motivation to comment on numbers that are primarily published by NetApplications and StatCounter (even if there are plenty more sources such as Clicky, StatOwl, or W3 Browser Statistics).

While Mozilla and Google have been largely quiet about market shares (but certainly care, as mentioned by Mozilla CTO in this blog post), Microsoft has used market share numbers only from Net Applications to highlight the decrease of importance of IE6 and the runaway success of IE9, especially on the dedicated blog Exploring IE. Last week, Microsoft reacted to data published by StatCounter that Chrome has exceeded IE market share for the first time. Microsoft's opinion is that StatCounter's data are slanted and incorrect and best. The reason? StatCounter evenly counts market share across its user base and does not consider geoweighting. To make matters worse, StatCounter also considers Google's prerendering feature, which obviously puts a positive spin on Google's data.

Without going too deep into analytics, Microsoft complains that the pages that are pre-rendered in Google's Omnibox count for market share at StatCounter. In February, pre-rendering counted for 4.3 percent of market share, Microsoft says. Also, Microsoft believes that, depending on the available data set, browser market share data has to be weighed against the entire Internet population. For example, China (where Microsoft dominates the browser market share arena) has 21.39 percent of the Internet population, according to CIA Internet user statistics, but it has only 0.96 percent in StatCounter's data.

According to Internet World Stats, the CIA estimate may be a bit conservative, as the user share in China could actually approach 25 percent. So, does Microsoft has a point? Sure. But we should not forget that NetApplications has also its problems as the scientific process of data collection isn't entirely transparent with missing margins of error, for example. My personal gripe with NetApplications has been that the freely available data change on a frequent basis and the company has denied consistent access to the same data sets over time. For example, Net Applications has strongly limited access to market share data to the fragmented versions of IE. Were they removed because of monetization reasons? Because of integration into IE overall? We have no idea as the company declined to comment. I cannot help but have some doubt about the data distribution between browser versions and within a browser itself. I am not accusing NetApplications of shady data publications, but there are clearly inconsistencies that make it difficult from the outside to assess the value of the data.

Like NetApplications, StatCounter has its issues as well. It is common sense to assume that no market share estimate can be entirely correct and there will always be opportunities to criticize the data published and interpret the data in the way you prefer. Those on the outside have to remember that browser market share statistics are merely trend indicators. In any case, absolute numbers should always be taken with a grain of salt.

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Top Comments
  • 22 Hide
    memadmax , March 25, 2012 6:10 PM
    The numbers are prolly skewed anyways as more and more people turn on script blocking, ad blocks etc.
  • 22 Hide
    lahawzel , March 25, 2012 4:55 PM
    @The first three commenters:

    You guys forget that IE is actually decent now. Nothing like the old interweb exploder 6. Although I'd still never use it due to the lack of useful plugins, it's no longer objectively bad in every possible aspect. Heck, it even beats Firefox and Chrome in Flash while having strong showings in HTML5 compliance and acceleration.

    And for the average user, using IE instead of Chrome or Firefox to browse facebook is not going give them a substantially different experience. Many people who install chrome or FF don't even take advantage of the plugins at all; they simply think "well it's better" and use the vanilla install, perceiving web browsing as being overall faster and better when the difference is objectively negligible.
  • 15 Hide
    josiasfratelli , March 25, 2012 4:18 PM
    I say chrome is better than ie
Other Comments
    Display all 36 comments.
  • 15 Hide
    josiasfratelli , March 25, 2012 4:18 PM
    I say chrome is better than ie
  • 4 Hide
    tomfreak , March 25, 2012 4:21 PM
    The butt-hurting of Microsoft to admit its defeat is strong here. Why does they care for this, if their browser is good, they dont have to respond about this statcounter. The user feedback will speaks itselfs.
  • 4 Hide
    moonshire , March 25, 2012 4:44 PM
    hmm, well microsoft also forgot that Internet explorer is installed on every device. so what if statcounter discounted china in the approximation of browser share? It shouldn't even be that close in the first place.

    Chrome, Firefox is the superior browser regardless of what microsoft says
  • 1 Hide
    lahawzel , March 25, 2012 4:48 PM
    "Microsoft's opinion is that StatCounter's data are slanted and incorrect and best. "

    I see that the best data is slanted and incorrect over here. :p 
  • 22 Hide
    lahawzel , March 25, 2012 4:55 PM
    @The first three commenters:

    You guys forget that IE is actually decent now. Nothing like the old interweb exploder 6. Although I'd still never use it due to the lack of useful plugins, it's no longer objectively bad in every possible aspect. Heck, it even beats Firefox and Chrome in Flash while having strong showings in HTML5 compliance and acceleration.

    And for the average user, using IE instead of Chrome or Firefox to browse facebook is not going give them a substantially different experience. Many people who install chrome or FF don't even take advantage of the plugins at all; they simply think "well it's better" and use the vanilla install, perceiving web browsing as being overall faster and better when the difference is objectively negligible.
  • -5 Hide
    synd , March 25, 2012 5:39 PM
    The only misleading thing here is IE's security, speed and stability. No one will ever use it if he knew how much better Chrome/Firefox/Opera are.
  • -3 Hide
    theuniquegamer , March 25, 2012 5:43 PM
    If i were the ceo of amd/nvidia then also i can say that my rival company's market share records are misleading (cause we sell a large no of gpus). Believe it or not MS the latest chrome and firefox are better than ie
  • 22 Hide
    memadmax , March 25, 2012 6:10 PM
    The numbers are prolly skewed anyways as more and more people turn on script blocking, ad blocks etc.
  • 12 Hide
    xerroz , March 25, 2012 6:23 PM
    I often wonder if people have ever used IE9. I like to think that when hating on IE they're referring to IE6 because IE9 is quite a decent browser
  • 12 Hide
    billybobser , March 25, 2012 6:27 PM
    Microsoft comes with most installations, Chrome piggy backs on to other software. Firefox/Opera just stand in their own magnificence.

    Chromes growth has nothing to do with it's technical accomplishments, but more to to with having to decline it at every turn when installing programs.

    That stats are misleading, and Tom's seems to be in a chrome love in.
  • -3 Hide
    cookoy , March 25, 2012 8:24 PM
    When IE was dominant without much competition, MS let it stagnant for years, not bothering to improve it until FF came along and started to peck slowly at its market share. Then Chrome came along. So why should MS care now?
  • -5 Hide
    alidan , March 25, 2012 9:26 PM
    LaHawzel@The first three commenters: You guys forget that IE is actually decent now. Nothing like the old interweb exploder 6. Although I'd still never use it due to the lack of useful plugins, it's no longer objectively bad in every possible aspect. Heck, it even beats Firefox and Chrome in Flash while having strong showings in HTML5 compliance and acceleration. And for the average user, using IE instead of Chrome or Firefox to browse facebook is not going give them a substantially different experience. Many people who install chrome or FF don't even take advantage of the plugins at all; they simply think "well it's better" and use the vanilla install, perceiving web browsing as being overall faster and better when the difference is objectively negligible.


    internet explorer is horrible, even in its current incarnation, flash plays like crap, it loads things slow, and all around is unable to beat out chrome in speed, or firefox in usefulness.

    and for some reason for me ie9 still cant play flash as well as chrome.
  • 4 Hide
    Combix , March 25, 2012 9:27 PM
    This might just be me, but it seems like you can make a problem out of everything. even some as simple as what freaking browser people use.....

    i would think that even MS pretty much dont care if you use their browser, you're useing their OS.
    and i think thats what really matters :)  not whatever browser you use for porn :S
  • 2 Hide
    thorkle , March 25, 2012 9:39 PM
    I hate to be that guy, but this article is riddled with typos... what do tomshardware's editor's do?
  • 0 Hide
    blazorthon , March 25, 2012 10:28 PM
    For everyone complaining about IE not being horrible, yes, it's not horrible anymore. IE 9 is decent. however, it is not great like Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and many derivatives of FF and Chrome. IE is less stable than FF, Opera, and Chrome. IE is usually slower, but in this context, it often isn't enough to truly make much difference. However, IE sometimes is really a whole lot slower. Fortunately for MS, these aren't very common situations for most people, but they are considerable. IE is at or near the bottom of performance charts far more often than the other browsers that it's up against. IE9 isn't horrible, but the alternatives are better.

    What you do with your web browser can make the differences between the browsers more pronounced in some situations. It's like graphics cards and CPUs, you use the browser most suited to your needs if you really care about that. I have several browsers for different situations including Palemoon (performance-optimized Firefox), Comodo Dragon (security and slightly performance-optimized Chrome), Lunascape (has all three of the most common rendering engines Trident (IE), Gecko(FF), and Webkit(Chrome, Safari)), and Opera.

    I have add-ons like Ad-block, fasterfox, and several others to get more performance and security out of the system.

    Now more on topic for the article, pretty much all market share data could be called misleading. Is MS in the wrong for saying that a certain statistic is misleading? no. However, like any other company, they don't publicly admit that EVERYONE regarded here is either wrong, misleading, or both.
  • 0 Hide
    beayn , March 25, 2012 11:11 PM
    I had the IE9 automatic update hidden so that it wouldn't get installed. One day I load up IE (I use it for my credit card site only, as it doesn't work in FF) and my settings are all reset... then I notice it's IE9!?

    MS sneakily returned it from my "hidden" updates and automatically stuck it in with other updates... I immediately uninstalled it. That was pretty freaking lame though. I'll probably turn off auto updates as well now because of that BS.

  • 2 Hide
    jaquith , March 26, 2012 12:02 AM
    Microsoft bitches about everything or anyone pulling market share from them always and all of the time. Frankly, I cannot stand Internet Exploder Explorer (IE), but some 'services' we use require Active X controls. Microsoft has been very lackadaisical since Gates departure and has (is) becoming a stale company; it's their own doing!

    Q - How many of you guys 'Bing' vs 'Google'? ... you have your answer.

    Yeah, I saw this graph already:


    I prefer Chrome and I have ALL of them installed (old to current) for site testing. However, IMO use the browser you like best and renders the pages correctly (1.2 vs 1.15 sec is meaningless unless you're a Borg). The last thing I want to do is to get into mine's better than yours argument.
  • 3 Hide
    hiruu , March 26, 2012 12:37 AM
    My problem with this data is that most AVERAGE people I run into, and see what they have on their computer ISN'T Chrome, not in any way shape or form. The only people i hear raving about CHROME are the same people who rave madly about Linux's eventual rise, and how Chrome is going to be a great OS. That is not to say that Chrome isn't rising in use, but somehow, I think this is garbage reporting, to the extent that has been reported on some of these tech sights.
  • -5 Hide
    hiruu , March 26, 2012 12:39 AM
    Look at the comments on this link...is this REALLY a sampling of the internet population...what garbage...lol.
  • -1 Hide
    jkflipflop98 , March 26, 2012 12:40 AM
    Yeah I like Chrome. It's quick and easy to use. Haven't had any website incompatibilities for a long time now. Love the Omnibar. Chrome is the way to go.
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