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Posted on June 27th, 2008 by Barry Collins

Firefox 3 already rules the roost

The full version of Firefox 3 has been available for all of 10 days now, and already it’s the most popular version of the browser being used to visit our website. I know Mozilla had a huge publicity drive to encourage people to download on day one and that Firefox is pretty active at encouraging people to upgrade to the latest version, but even still, the rapid take up of the new browser is impressive.

Here’s the breakdown of Firefox browser versions visiting this week:

1. Firefox 3.0 – 55.13%
2. Firefox – 39.27%
3. Firefox – 0.96%

And for comparison, here’s the breakdown for Internet Explorer:

1. Internet Explorer 7 – 68.86%
2. Internet Explorer 6 – 30.97%
3. Internet Explorer 8 – 0.09%

So Microsoft still has three out of ten people running an old version of its browser more than 18 months after Internet Explorer 7 launched, while Firefox has converted more than half of its users to the latest version in just over a week.  That should set a few alarm bells ringing in Redmond…

The big question, reader David Wright asks on comments below, is what has Firefox 3 done to its overall market share with PC Pro readers? Here’s the answer:

1. Internet Explorer – 53.74%

2. Firefox – 39.40%

3. Safari – 3.83%

4. Opera – 2.15%

Watch out Microsoft. The Fox is gaining fast.

Check out next month’s PC Pro – on sale 17 July – for our Power User’s Guide to Firefox 3.

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34 Responses to “ Firefox 3 already rules the roost ”

  1. David Wright Says:
    June 27th, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    What would be interesting is to see the overal figures as well:

    How many using Firefox, IE, Opera, Safari (as numbers or percent).

    And nobody was using IE5.5? I know it is supposed to be under 5% of the internet userbase now.

  2. admin Says:
    June 27th, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Good question, David. I’ve updated the post accordingly.

  3. Fintan Says:
    June 27th, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Thank you for those stats.
    Can you also give us the stats on the os’s used?

    Vista, xp, mac (vers. if possible) linux (distro if possible), etc

  4. David Veillon Says:
    June 27th, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    This could actually mean something if it weren’t for the “Down load Firefox 3 to break a world record” day.

    Or, did you just forget about that? What would the numbers look like if had not pulled that stunt?

  5. Rene Millman Says:
    June 27th, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    When I read this I had to check your website’s figures against mine and the stats breakdown pretty much the same – which is a tad spooky! Looks like your right and Microsoft should be a bit worried!

  6. Jaguar5150 Says:
    June 27th, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    Who cares if they pulled a “Stunt”. It’s called marketing. Something every company should do when rolling out a new product. Mozilla happened to come up with a clever way of doing it. They’ll probably do it again when 4 comes out.

  7. David Veillon Says:
    June 27th, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    They and you should care because it makes these numbers worthless. What will the adoption curve look like in three months?

    It is very likely that the stunt caused a spike in the data and over the next few months adoption will fall like a rock.

  8. Adrian Says:
    June 27th, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Are Firefox users so starving for attention that they have to draw unfounded conclusions just so someone will pay attention?

    For example: “So Microsoft still has three out of ten people running an old version of its browser more than 18 months after Internet Explorer 7 launched, while Firefox has converted more than half of its users to the latest version in just over a week. ”

    How do you draw the conclusion that Firefox has converted more than half of its users to FF3 based on’s logs? One out of millions and millions of sites out there does not indicate such a pattern to make such a bold statement. Consider the demographic of your users at PCPro: Computer geeks, IT professionals, Internet junkies, and power users. Imagine what the breakdown would be on or even better, and then try drawing a conclusion about firefox users around the world based on their web logs. How about Are people over the age of 50 driving the Firefox numbers?

    I use Firefox 2 and IE6. Big deal. I don’t have anything against FF3; I just haven’t gotten around to downloading it. My life doesn’t revolve around my browser experience. I’ve got bigger fish to fry right now. It would take a really good feature I need for me to drop what I’m doing to download the new Firefox. For example, if they added the “Open all sites currently open in tabs” option when I close Firefox (like IE7 gives), then I would do it right away (and please nobody start making suggestions like Task Manager->firefox.exe->End Process then “Restore Session” when launching firefox. This is not a tech support request, it’s a comment about the Firefox numbers).

    I agree with David. The stunt they pulled will skew the numbers and the next quarter will show that. The numbers from,, google,com,, and would be far more interesting than


  9. Jaguar5150 Says:
    June 27th, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Except that the shift in market share with remain the same, and the adoption rate for the new version will still be higher than IE.

    The point is, after a year and a half, IE has only a slightly better adoption rate then FF3 has in only ten days.

  10. koresho Says:
    June 27th, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Yeah, lets check the logs of… which only works from IE…

  11. Casper Gielen Says:
    June 27th, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    Most people that really care about what browser they use have already switched over. The remainder doesn’t really care, and will keep running their current browser until someone (or something) replaces it for them.

    Although the numbers above might be skewed because of the “download firefox” campaign, the fact is that a lot of those downloaders will keep Firefox as their default browser.

  12. MentalNotes Says:
    June 27th, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Firefox 3 saves your tabs when you quit, if you wish it to.

  13. David Veillon Says:
    June 27th, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Let’s see what the adoption rate for FF3 is like after 18 months.

    What you , possibly deliberately, fail to see is that without the stunt, FF3’s adoption rate could have, and probably would have, been a lot lower.

    I have a good idea, after 18 months lets look at the adoption rate in “average adoptions per day” and see what the result is.

  14. Callum Says:
    June 27th, 2008 at 6:02 pm


    Actually… FF3 does have the option to save and restore open tabs.

    and yes, while it’s probably true that the marketing hype for FF3 helped people switch early, they’re probably not going to change back once they’ve gotten it.

  15. Adrian Says:
    June 27th, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    That was the point. The comment was not about adoption rates or browser preference, but about a conclusion drawn on faulty statistics.

  16. Malloc Says:
    June 27th, 2008 at 6:41 pm


    Actually even Firefox 2 allows you to save and restore tabs:
    Tools -> Options -> Main-> Startup ->When Firefox Starts
    select “show my windows and tabs from last time” i have been using this for a long time.

    However the upgrade to FF3 is worthwhile, especially if you use web 2.0 heavy web apps (gmail,google docs,yahoo mail etc).

  17. Nick Says:
    June 27th, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    I think its funny that you all get pissed at Mozilla for the FF3 download day “Stunt” but fail to mention that all those IE6 users are willinging clicking the “No i don’t want this” on Auto Update to NOT move forward.

    What if FF2 users kept being nagged with a system tray pop-up warning you of the possible security threat of not downloading the new version?

  18. Malloc Says:
    June 27th, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Who cares about the statistics. The article says: ‘of pcpro readers’ there is a high FF3 adoption rate. Obviously you can’t generalize to say all FF users have a high FF3 adoption rate, because of the english speaking only demographics of pcpro’s user base. But it is still interesting to see FF3’s adoption rate using 1 site’s statistics.

  19. Jaguar5150 Says:
    June 27th, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    David, it seems you are creating a circular argument. Without the stunt/marketing, the adoption rate would certainly have been lower without a doubt. Are you suggesting that Mozilla NOT market their product?

    Perhaps I misunderstood and misused the term “adoption rate”. I was simply noting that in the short amount of time that the upgrade to 3.0 was available, the numbers are quite high for Firefox. And yes, I understand that these are relatively narrow-scope figures, but it is interesting nonetheless.

    Nick also makes a good point too regarding the fact that people for a long time after IE7 was released, they were willing to NOT upgrade. Whereas FF3 was upgraded right away.

  20. Ray Curiel Says:
    June 27th, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    You will only be nagged about updating to IE7 on XP or higher. I can’t upgrade my W2K boxes to IE7 nor my NT4 systems. Of course, I can use FF3 on those systems…

  21. Mortal Says:
    June 27th, 2008 at 7:27 pm


    Yeah, let’s look at numbers from, which is targeted at geeks and enthusiasts, most of whom are probably eager to switch…

    What about numbers from before the official release? Firefox 3 has been publicly in development for months if not years – while this is also true of IE releasing betas, I would bet a higher percentage of Firefox users switch to beta before the official release than IE users.

  22. Gregg Says:
    June 27th, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    I just checked the stats for the university alumni page I manage (we have 15,000 students and 100,000 alumni). My stats show Firefox 3 was 20% of Firefox users on release day and has been climbing a few percent each day. As of today it’s at 48%. So my stats are slightly lower than yours, but still in line with it.

    The Firefox release day record also pushed overall Firefox usage up too. It was steadily increasing over the last year and reached 23% for May 2008. Since June 18 Firefox now has 25% usage. In the same period since June 18 IE had 68%, Safari had 5% and Opera had 0.3%.

    We have a CS faculty, but the majority of our students would be in other disciples: sciences, arts, medical, etc. I think this would likely be a tech-friendly demographic, but not geeks.

  23. Felipe Says:
    June 28th, 2008 at 4:18 am

    Today, IE is the target browser for most of the malicious software.
    For that reason, my choice is Firefox. It’s also faster and it supports MathML, SVG, etc.

  24. David Wright Says:
    June 28th, 2008 at 4:29 am

    I think the figures for the PC Pro site are a relatively good representation of the technical community, although many people will be browsing from work, where they will probably not have a choice of browser.

    As to switching to Betas. I switched my Mac over to RC3, the rest of my machines stayed with FF2 until release day, with a virtual machine on my work computer for testing.

    The slow take-up of IE7 doesn’t bode well for IE8, and web developers. I hate developing web applications currently, because I have to write them so that they work with all other browsers than IE, and they validate fine. I then have to take the working code and go back and deliberately break it and make it non-compliant, just so that it will work in IE6 and IE7. I’m just glad that IE5.5 usage has dropped off the radar, that made things even worse!

    Looking at the Beta of IE8, the sooner they fix the bugs on that and it becomes the most used version of IE, the better. That will make making websites much easier, while we only need a single, unbroken, version of the site!

  25. Ben Coman Says:
    June 28th, 2008 at 10:18 am

    Yeah, the FF3 download day was a stunt. But hey, it was still voluntary!!!! How do you compare that to Microsoft’s FORCED upgrade to IE7. That completely skews Microsoft’s results – good marketing trick for sure.

    What I’m really curious about is that how are there still so many IE6 users? Why have those users gone to the considerable trouble to disable the forced IE7 upgrade. What does THAT say about IE7 popularity?

  26. Ben Coman Says:
    June 28th, 2008 at 10:27 am

    Whoops, further… the PCPRO site might have a higher concentration of techies and not be representative of the rest of the population, but who do you think the rest of the population look to when they need advice on the best software for their system?

  27. Andb Says:
    June 28th, 2008 at 11:45 am

    I’d like to draw attention to the effectiveness of FF’s “stunt”. Look at how much MS had to invest in its Vista publicity “stunt” and yet how many people were eager to move over? The point here is that FF has succeeded in building community with its users – they are excited to be using FF and using the newest versions. It is very comparable to the Ubuntu phenomenon. Best of all, this is done at nearly no monetary cost. IE, and MS products in general, require million dollar campaigns (and these are indeed stunts too) but yet the vast majority of users are strongly hesitant to move to the newer versions (I can not say upgrade for obvious reasons).

    More power to FF. It’s built a strong community of not just users, but supporters, by being open, honest and by valuing what its users need and want. When you have something great, the people will want it.

  28. Bill Pattillo Says:
    June 28th, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    The new version will not leave the addresses in the upper tool bar. The old version would leave the addresses in the tool bar and not delete them. Why the change?

  29. Ravi Chhabra Says:
    June 28th, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    It would be more interesting to see the IE 7 number filtered via Vista. That is how many were using IE 7 simply because it came with Vista, and how many upgraded *to* IE 7

  30. Markcr Says:
    June 30th, 2008 at 9:27 am

    Andb – you are comparing something free with something you have to buy. Of course something free will have a massive take up. You only buy something when you have a need to, but when something is free, the mere invitation is enough for almost everybody.

    Put in the ‘be part of a world record’ and every Numpty on the planet will have a go.

    I am not a follower of fashion, thus I didn’t rush in where angels fear to tread, and waited until this weekend to download FF3. To say I am under whelmed is an understatement.

    Some of the sites I visit everyday don’t render as expected under FF3, text stretches and overlays incorrectly, where under FF2 it didn’t.

    Of course, the same is true of some sites under IE8, but you come to expect things not to work under IE, whereas under FF you tend to think they will render more accurately.

    As for Vista, well, I don’t like the GUI; the nipple buttons ruined it for me enough to only use it when I have to test my applications.

    Necessity is the mother of invention. Where is the need for these upgrades?

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