MS Explorer Passes Navigator

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser software has bypassed Netscape’s Communicator and Navigator products, according to the latest Technology User Profile by the InfoBeads unit of Ziff-Davis.

Internet Explorer, according to InfoBeads, is installed on 33.8 million US PCs, compared to Netscape’s 32.0 million.

According to the study, Internet Explorer’s installed base grew by 16.5 million PCs in 1998, a 96 percent increase from year-end 1997, and triple Netscape’s 32 percent growth. As a result, Microsoft’s browser share rose from 39 percent in January 1998 to 50 percent in January 1999. Netscape’s share fell from 54 percent in January of 1998 to 47 percent in January of 1999.

Most of Explorer’s increase was seen in the home segment, although workplace PCs saw the largest increase. According to InfoBeads, the workplace remains the only segment in which Netscape holds onto its majority, with a Netscape browser installed on 53 percent of workplace PCs compared to Explorer’s 42 percent. This is in contrast to an earlier study by Zona Research, which examined 308 enterprises and found that 59 percent of respondents are using Internet Explorer as their primary browser, while 41 percent of respondents are using the Netscape Navigator.

According to InfoBeads, Internet Explorer holds the edge in the home and self-employed segments.

“Internet experience does seem to play a limited role in browser choice,” said Miran Chun an InfoBeads analyst. “Almost 60 percent of those with five or more years of Internet experience use a Netscape browser, while only 42 percent of those with one year and 51 percent of those with two years of experience use Netscape. In contrast, IE’s use is unaffected by the user’s experience. Its share remains between 50 and 52 percent among all groups, regardless of years of experience.”

Multiple browser installations may explain some of this, especially among long-time Internet users, according to InfoBeads. For example, 19 percent of users with 5 or more years experience used both Netscape and Microsoft browsers, while less than 10 percent of users with one or fewer years of experience did. More experienced users may be more comfortable downloading and installing new browser software, and may also appreciate the differences in the new features, according to InfoBeads.

InfoBeads’ Technology User Profile is based on 11,000 interviews completed with US PC users in the workplace, home, and self-employed segments.

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