After a Few Short Months, Firefox 4 Is Mozilla's Leading Browser Version

by Ostatic Staff - Jun. 01, 2011

As Mozilla continues to contend with claimed performance problems with its new Firefox 4 browser (although some reader responses to our post on the matter argue that there are none), it is achieving new milestones. According to data from StatCounter, which specializes in web analytics, the Firefox 4 browser claimed a hefty 14.2 percent of the global browser market in May--higher than the 13.2 percent claimed by the longstanding version 6. Meanwhile, the Firefox 5 beta has arrived, and there is even a new version 6 of the browser in the Aurora channel. Mozilla is moving full steam ahead with its new rapid release cycle for Firefox, competing directly with Google Chrome's development schedule.

As The H Open notes, regarding Firefox 6:

"The new Scratchpad, located under the Web Developer menu, allows developers to quickly build and test JavaScript snippets within the browser. The Web Console can now be moved to other parts of the window or even into its own separate window. The latest Aurora version also features additional support for HTML5, DOM level 3, server-sent events and networking technologies, as well as other tools for developers; a full list can be found on the Firefox 6 for Developers page in the Mozilla Developer Center."

Mozilla announced a new rapid release cycle for Firefox earlier this year, which is an effort to enhance the browser at a rate more competitive with Google's Chrome browser. One major difference between Firefox 4 and Google Chrome is that Chrome updates automatically, while users need to opt-in to update to Firefox 4, which makes Firefox 4's early market share all the more notable.

StatCounter reports that Google Chrome had 19.4 percent of the global browser market in May. It also reports that Microsoft's Internet Explorer still leads in global share with 43.9 percent of the market. However, that share figure is sharply down from the nearly 80 percent share that IE had only a few years ago. 

Going forward, open source browsers--led by Chrome and Firefox--are defining innovation, and there are several parts of the world where Firefox has dominant browser market share. Many businesses that are standardized on Windows have not upgraded to Internet Explorer 9 yet, though, and upgrades to that new version could shake up browser market share stats in months to come.