Firefox 1.5 Intro Sparks Gain Against IE

The hoopla around the release of Firefox 1.5 in late November gave the Mozilla-made browser a shot in the arm, a Web measurement company said Wednesday. According to Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based NetApplications, the introduction of Firefox 1.5 sparked new user adoptions, and raised the browser’s share to 8.8 percent, compared to 8.6 percent in October.

Apple’s Safari, which is based on the open-source Konqueror browser engine, also gained a bit of ground during November, climbing to 2.8 percent from 2.6 percent.

If Firefox 1.5 had rolled out earlier in the month, its numbers would be even rosier, said Vince Vizzaccaro, vice president of marketing at NetApplications.

“What’s interesting is that in the last week of November, Firefox hit as high as 9.09 percent market share, which is indicative of its potential to hit a critical mass of 10 percent,” said Vizzaccaro in a statement.

Firefox 1.5 has a 0.3 percent share, according to NetApplications’ data; Firefox 1.0, meanwhile, accounts for 8.2 percent. (Beta versions prior to 2004’s 1.0 make up the remainder of the open-source browser’s current 8.8 percent share.) “The new release is noticeably quicker and it offers improved security over its predecessor. Furthermore, its rendering of complex pages is greatly enhanced. Mozilla promises a steady pattern of upgrades to Firefox, positioning itself to keep the market share gained so far, and to set the stage for greater growth in the future.” Microsoft’s Internet Explorer still commands an overwhelming market share, even though it continued to dip during November. By NetApplications’ count, IE fell from 86.5 percent of all browsers used in October to 86.1 percent in November.

Twelve months ago, IE owned 90.3 percent of the browser business, Firefox 4.6 percent, and Safari 1.6 percent.

In other Firefox 1.5 news, the Mozilla Foundation said that an online poll of users put the browser’s update feature–which streamlines upgrades–as the number one new feature.

Of the more than 1,600 votes cast on MozillaZine.org by mid-day Wednesday, 40 percent named the improved update as the best new feature. Faster navigation came in second with 21 percent of the vote.

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