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23 Mar 12 Microsoft says Chrome didn’t top Internet Explorer last weekend

A day after the analytics firm StatCounter reported that Chrome had bested Internet Explorer as the world’s most popular browser on a recent weekend day, Microsoft says it simply isn’t so. Microsoft claims that StatCounter bases its findings on faulty data and incorrect assumptions.

Yesterday, StatCounter said that for one day last weekend, Chome’s usage beat all versions of Internet Explorer combined. But as Paul Thurrott points out, Microsoft posted a blog even before the findings were released, claiming that they were fatally flawed.

In the Exploring IE blog, Roger Capriotti, director of Internet Explorer Product Marketing takes StatCounter to task for browser rankings, claiming that they are flawed in three ways. First, he claims, the rankings don’t take into account that Chrome “pre-renders” pages, that is downloads pages assuming that users will click them next, even if users never view those pages. Secondly, he says, StatCounter doesn’t accurately geoweight “browser usage based on real-world Internet populations.” Third, he says, StatCounter counts page views rather than unique visitors, which he says is a more accurate way to count browser share.

Capriotti contrasts the StatCounter approach with that of Net Applications, which also measures browser usage. He claims that Net Applications discounts pre-rendered pages, properly performs geoweighting, and develops rankings based on unique visitors. As you might imagine, Net Application ranks Internet Explorer higher than does StatCounter.

Capriotti took the StatCounter figures for the entire month of February, and applied the various filters that he says Net Applications uses, and came up with very different numbers than did StatCounter for that month. For the month of February, StatCounter reported Internet Explorer market share at 35.8%, followed by Chrome with 29.8%, and Firefox with 24.9%. After filtering, he claims that Internet Explorer truly had 44.6% market share, followed by Chrome at 24.3%, and Firefox at 22%.

He didn’t, however, apply any of those filters to the one day that StatCounter said that Chrome beat Internet Explorer; as far as I can tell, those actual figures haven’t been released.

Who’s right here? I can’t say that I know. But one thing is undeniable: Chrome has been steadily gaining market share, while Internet Explorer market share has been declining. Even Net Applications figures show that. According to Net Applications, Internet Explorer had a 57.82% market share in April of 2011 to Chrome’s 12.53%. By February, 2012, Internet Explorer’s market share had dropped to 52.84%, and Chrome’s increased to 18.9%. That’s a far cry from Chrome being the number one browser. But it does show that Chome has been steadily eating into Internet Explorer’s lead.

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