Google's Chrome Overtakes Internet Explorer, Briefly

Dennis Faas's picture

Google's Chrome has become the most widely used web browser in the world. Although its lead is probably temporary, the surge in popularity ends a 14-year-reign by Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

The figures come from StatCounter's weekly usage charts. For the week ending May 20, the company estimates that 32.76 per cent of people across the world were using some version of Chrome, compared with only 31.94 per cent using Internet Explorer.

Mozilla'a Firefox took third place with 25.47 per cent of all usage, while Apple's Safari lagged behind the other three browsers at just 7.08 per cent. (Source:

The two leading browsers are currently close enough in popularity that they are likely to jostle for the top spot for some time to come. Right now it appears Internet Explorer will take back the overall lead next week.

Chrome's First Week-Long Triumph

Chrome had previously been the number one browser for a single day, though that was during a weekend. This is the first time Google's web-surfing offering has taken the top spot for an entire week, which is more representative of general usage patterns.

StatCounter's figures are based on actual use of websites that it monitors for clients. The company deals with enough sites, both in sheer numbers and in variety, that the figures are generally regarded as accurate reflections of the industry's overall trends. (Source:

In the case of Chrome, the trend has been steadily upwards since its release in 2008. It has been only a few months since Chrome began consistently supporting more users than Firefox.

The End of an Era?

Microsoft's Internet Explorer has held the top spot among browsers for so long that its #1 standing pre-dates Statcounter's data gathering.

One must go back to data collections by other statistics companies to find a time when Microsoft's Internet Explorer was in second place. The last time it ranked #2 was in 1998, when it trailed Netscape Navigator.

The Statcounter figures cover use of browsers around the entire world. In the United States, however, Microsoft remains number one, while Firefox holds the lead in Europe.

It's important to note these figures cover only desktop and notebook computers. Devices like smartphones and tablets, which access special mobile versions of websites, aren't counted. If you include these devices, all versions of Internet Explorer retain a slight lead over all versions of Chrome.

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