Web Browser Popularity

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 21, 2009
Updated • May 29, 2017

If you take a look at the five most popular web browsers right now, you will notice huge differences in popularity among them. The web browsers in question are Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari and Google Chrome.

Firefox was - and is still - the only web browser that was able to take away a huge chunk of the web browser market from Microsoft. Opera, Safari and Google Chrome remain niche browsers that have not reached the popularity of Firefox up to this point in time.

The question to ask is therefore the following: Why is the Mozilla Firefox web browser more popular than the other three Internet Explorer contenders? Microsoft's Internet Explorer is in a unique position as it is distributed automatically with the Windows operating system. This alone ensures that the browser has a sizeable share of the browser market.

A look at a comparison of all five web browsers at Google Trends and their search and news volume over the last five years reveals some interesting information. Firefox started to become the most searched after web browser in 2004 and was able to keep the lead until today. The other web browsers spiked at specific times, e.g. during the release of Google Chrome, but failed to take advantage of those spikes.

Mozilla Firefox (light blue line) definitely gets more press coverage than the other web browsers which might be one of the reasons for its popularity. If you open a computer magazine you will most likely find Firefox articles but rarely anything about Opera, Chrome or Safari.

Speed or compatibility are most likely not a deciding factor for the popularity, as all web browsers are speedy and stable enough to provide a good user experience. Microsoft's Internet Explorer is still lagging behind speed wise but the latest Internet Explorer 8 made a huge jump in this regards and is closing in on the other web browsers.

The main reason for Firefox's success is its extensibility in my opinion. Firefox add-ons increase the functionality of the web browser enormously, and they also ensure that any new popular feature that might be introduced by another web browser company will be offered to the Firefox community as well. The main advantage of this approach is speed. When Opera introduced Speed Dial it took only a short time before the first Firefox add-ons appeared that mimicked that feature.

Ten years ago it would have taken months or even years as those features would be implemented by the developers of the web browser directly. The add-ons ensure that Firefox stays on top or close to the top in all regards. This is something that no other web browser offers currently.

Microsoft tried with the Internet Explorer Marketplace but it never gained the popularity that it needed to take off. Opera tried with their Widgets. Widgets are small extra windows that provide many of the features that add-ons do. The main problem for many users is that the widgets cannot be integrated into the web browser's interface. Both Safari and Chrome do not offer something similar yet. The extensibility is obviously not the only reason for the success but it makes a huge difference.

Now it's time to chime in and let me hear your opinion. What do you think about web browser popularity?

Web Browser Popularity
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Web Browser Popularity
Which web browser is the most popular one on Windows, and why? The article looks at Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Opera and Safari.
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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between name.com domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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