Browser Buzz

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Browsers have been generating a lot of buzz this week.

Opera just released Opera 9.5, which I’ve already downloaded and installed on all of my machines. I’m also going to be downloading and trying out the new Dragonfly JavaScript debugger, since I’ll be covering it (and other JS tools) in the second edition of Learning JavaScript.

Now, it would seem that next Tuesday is the official Firefox 3 download day. Of course, if you even use Firefox on that day you’ll be downloading the released version on that day.

I’m particularly happy about Firefox 3, as I’ve had some SVG rendering issues related to Firefox 2 that made me hesitate in using SVG more completely in my various web sites. Now, I can go to town.

The IE team also released a new post about IE8 beta 2, out in August. Unfortunately, the news about IE8 isn’t as positive as the news about Opera and Firefox. What’s happened is that the initial use of a meta element in order to trigger “IE7” mode, has been proven to be problematical, and needing to be further refined. Now, developers are encouraged to use the EmulateIE7 mode, in order to emulate IE7 behavior, rather than enforce IE7 standards. This is going to be causing confusion, and doesn’t necessarily lead to a sense of warm and coziness that the IE team has their act together.

Unfortunately, no word on support for opacity. The IE team removed the MS proprietary opacity filter in IE8, which was good. However, the team did not put in place the standards-based opacity, which is causing a great deal of unhappiness.

I decided to check the browser statistics on my own sites, particularly my new ones, and my older Burningbird, which I’ve been cleaning up in Google. What I found is the following:

Only 10.5% of visitors to my new Just Shelley site use MSIE. Of the remaining, Safari users account for 8.9%, Opera users 4.4%, and Firefox users account for a whopping 65.1% of the user base.

At RealTech, MSIE 5.5 users account for 6.7%, 6.0 users 5.4%, and 7.0 users account for 4.6%. IE8 beta testers only account for 0.5% of the users. For the rest, Safari has 8.6%, Opera 4.5%, and Firefox, again, accounts for 53.1% of the user base.

For the Burningbird site, which has the oldest material and most visitors from Google, IE use increased to 25.9%. Firefox accounts for 16.2%, Opera for 4.5%, and Safari accounts for 6.6%. Who is the big winner at Burningbird? NetNewsWire, which accounts for 27% of file accesses at Burningbird. That’s a lot of feed reads.

Finally, for Painting the Web, MSIE only accounts for 5.8% of the users, Safari accounts for 10.3%, Opera users have increased to 9.9% (those Opera folks, they love SVG), and last but not least, Firefox accounts for 65.1% of users at Painting the Web.

What does this all mean? It means that active readers of my sites are using Firefox much more than any other browser, while IE users tend to come in via search results on older posts. Safari users have increased, helped along, no doubt, by Apple’s installing Safari on Windows machines, via a Quicktime upgrade. (Why on earth people would complain about Apple putting a standards-based browser on Windows, beats the hell out of me–would we prefer IE?)

Opera users form a good, consistent base at all of my sites, except for Painting the Web, which has double the number of Opera users. Again, I think people who like SVG also like Opera, which has been consistently a strong supporter of SVG.

In summary, at my sites at least, the number of people using IE is dropping. Most people who come to my site using MSIE do so through some Google or Yahoo search, seldom stay more than a quick look at a page, and then move on. Most are using older versions of MSIE, which implies (and the stats also bare this out) that they’re using older versions of Windows and the Mac OS. I frankly never get IE8 beta testers, while I’ve consistently received larger numbers of beta testers for Firefox and Opera.

In other words, MSIE users do not make up a significant portion of my regular readership. More importantly, their numbers have dropped almost 50% from the statistics I had last year.

Now, it’s true that the topics I write about tend to attract the tech community who, other than those who specifically work with IE, professionally, rarely use IE. I have two other sites opening later that cover non-tech fields, not to mention Just Shelley, which isn’t going to be focused on technology. I’ll check in about six months, and see how the statistics do at these and my other sites.

Regardless: Congratulations, Opera! Congratulations, Firefox!

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