Top web browsers 2020: Microsoft’s IE and Edge move up

Microsoft’s browsers last month surged to close the year with the highest user share since August 2018, giving its maker a morale boost just weeks before it is to deliver a totally revamped Edge.

According to data published Wednesday by metrics vendor Net Applications, Microsoft’s December browser share — a combination of Internet Explorer (IE) and Edge — climbed 1.4 percentage points to 14.2%, the highest mark in all of 2019. The year’s total user share increase of 1.8 points marked the first time since 2014 that Microsoft’s browsers put in a positive January-to-December.

Over half of December’s gain came from Edge, which added eight-tenths of a percentage point, reaching 6.8%, a record for a browser Microsoft will relaunch in two weeks. IE also climbed last month, adding six-tenths of a percentage point and rising to 7.4%, the most for that browser since August.

(On Jan. 15, Microsoft will begin replacing the homegrown version of Edge on Windows 10 with the new browser built on Google’s technologies.)

Edge’s increase bettered, proportionally, the accompanying December increase of Windows 10, and so the percentage of the latter’s users relying on the browser ticked up to 12.3%, the best number since last summer. December may be the last month that Edge’s portion of Windows 10’s browser activity can be reliably pegged, what with the impending launch of the final “full-Chromium” version for Windows 7, which at the end of 2019 accounted for nearly 31% of all Windows. Although Windows 7 will receive its final security updates on Jan. 14 – except for businesses that pay Microsoft for the post-retirement Extended Security Updates, or ESU – there will be a sizable number of PCs globally running the OS after that date (an estimated 446 million, give or take). It’s almost certain that some will dump IE for the new Edge.

But how much ground the new, Chromium-based Edge gains, if any, once it is in polished form remains unclear. Much will depend on how strong users’ ties are to Chrome, whether IT admins will return their charges to Microsoft’s browser and Google’s reactions. How Edge plays out during 2020 will be among the year’s more interesting enterprise stories.


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