Internet Explorer Extinct by 2013? 2009 Update

Now I copped a bit of flack the last time I posted about this, but hey, I’m a sucker for punishment. One year on from my original post, I thought I’d check again to see if my prediction (albeit using less than precise mathematics) was still true—and gasp!

The rate of decline of visitors to sitepoint.com who are using Internet Explorer has not slowed. Using the same linear approach, the latest stats still suggest that IE will have disappeared from sitepoint.com by 2013 …

But wait—let me add to that prediction.

With the current growth in users of Chrome, more people will visit sitepoint.com using Chrome than IE by 2011.

IE Safari Chrome Usage

Let me answer some questions that will no doubt arise.

Linear Analysis: Yes, there are better mathematical approaches. Regression analysis would be more accurate; however, it’s more complex and time-consuming. All I want to illustrate is a continuing trend, so a simple, quick analysis should suffice for what I’m trying to show.

For those interested, a linear equation is a straight line using the least squares method. Its weakness is that it only accepts one variable and ignores other factors that may influence the result. Regression analysis on the other hand, can cater for numerous variables, both dependent and independent.

sitepoint.com traffic: We have an early-adopting, technical audience, and that means our browser stats are no true reflection of the general Web. That said, it’s easy to underestimate the influence the tech crowd has over browser usage.

If you’re a site owner, I’d love to hear if you’re experiencing a similar reduction of IE users on your own site.

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  • ow1n

    Your graph needs some markers on the x-axis in order to be useful. And why no data for Firefox?

  • Richard

    Good to see Internet Explorer is on its way out. How does Firefox fare in your comparisons?

  • http://www.olsenportfolio.com/ nrg_alpha

    I’m personally glad to see IE decline. IMO, it doesn’t deserve to thrive whatsoever (excuse me while I wipe away my crocodile tears). I am curious though, no Firefox statistics in that graph? (I’m a Chrome user myself though – just curious more than anything)

    “With the current growth in users of Chrome, more people will visit sitepoint.com using Chrome than IE by 2011.”

    Hmm.. will be interesting to see if that holds true or not. Colour me ‘optimistically skeptical’ :

  • http://www.mikedesign.net/ mauteri

    Well, taking a look at analytics from 2 of my sites that get 300+ hits a day, one is 85% IE and the other is 67% IE. These are lowest common denominator traffic sites. In fact, the 85% owners still use IE6. Oh well, nice to dream…

  • Chris – codepuzzling.tumblr.com

    If the IE dev team won’t stop developing, I don’t believe that it will be there an IE extinction. I’m sure there’s a decline, but an extinction it’s too much IMHO.

  • Lee Johnson

    I agree with the figures but what I think you may have overlooked with this article is that due to the fact that you can do more with firefox (plugins) and SitePoint is for the more technical web users this is quite a natural trend rather than IE is dying.

  • Tomek

    In effect, by supporting Google Chrome, we are supporting another version of Microsoft. Once Google becomes the default browser, which it has a very chance of it, it can dictate the rate of development. Like all major companies, Microsoft, Dell, Yahoo, HP, IBM, etc… Google will become too big and will start making bad products and then we will be faced with a IE 6, 7 and 8 issue all over again, but this time it will be Chrome 6, 7 and 8. Firefox anyone?

  • Leslie

    God bless you sitepoint.com. I looked at our stats to see if this could possibly be true and low and behold, when I looked at the percentage of people using ie, there is a slow but steady decline! Yay!
    Over the last year, it has dropped from 80.66% of our visitors using ie to now 72.6%. I couldn’t look at the total numbers of users because we are in higher ed so our numbers fluctuate during registration time. But the percentages can’t lie!
    Thank you, you made my day:)

  • mh

    I work for a prominent oil and gas website and our IE usage has actually increased since December 2007. Our demographic has proven to be slow adopters of new technology.

    For the past month, 34% of our IE-based traffic still uses ie6 and 52% use ie7. 13% use ie8. In total, IE accounts for 84% of our traffic.

    Firefox usage has quadrupled since December 07 and is 11% of our overall traffic.

    Chrome usage has tripled since September 08 and is only .53% of our total traffic.

  • http://www.cemerson.co.uk Stormrider

    Google will become too big and will start making bad products and then we will be faced with a IE 6, 7 and 8 issue all over again

    This is ridiculous – Microsoft never made ‘bad products’ – IE was the leading browser in the world for a number of years, and IE6 was bang up to date when it was released. The only trouble is, a lot has changed since its release, expectations have changed, the way web development is thought about has changed, and the browser is out dated. MS made a mistake in not continuing development of IE after v6 for a while, but they don’t set out to make bad products as you put it.

    All that needs to happen is enough people adopting IE8 to drop support for 6 & 7 (or just 7 if you don’t support 6 now, many don’t).

  • The Ron

    @Tomek: No, we won’t be. Chrome uses the WebKit rendering engine, which is the same thing used by Safari, Adobe Air, and many other applications. IE uses the Trident rendering engine, which is only used by IE. Microsoft chooses the development pace of Trident, but Chrome does not choose the development pace of WebKit. So if Chrome takes over, as long as WebKit remains current with W3C standards — which it will, since it’s so widely used — Chrome will, too.

    As to the article, I’m not that excite by it. Sure, SitePoint may be IE-free by 2013, but normal websites that are visited by the general populace (not just webdevs) will be plagued for much, much longer. (Although I’m happy as soon as IE6 goes out the window)

  • http://www.ryanreese.net RyanReese

    I know the point he is trying to make but true there will always be IE users, and given the fact that this is a web development forum where the users are anti-IE fanatics, I think, given this argument, it will be just a little bit longer after 2013 that IE will be fully extinct. Or, at least to the point where IE users will be up to at least version 8, which isn’t that bad, considering the CSS2.1 support it has.

  • Martin

    the best browser is safari 4 both for mac and pc, why still argue? it’s just THE BEST, period. 2md is firefox, third chrom, fourth IE and opera in the last place.

    it would be beautiful if ie6 dies and we can only develop websites for safari / firefox / ie7+, because if you do good in safari, it looks good on chrome and if good on ie, good in opera. Now we have to still be in a stone age and pain because of those dumbasses who use ie6.

  • Beavis

    Where’s the Firefox Stats? Opera?

  • http://www.patricksamphire.com/ PatrickSamphire

    Taking a quick look at one of my bigger sites, I’ve still got 69% of IE users. It’s fallen about 10% in the last year, but it’s still got a hell of a long way to go before it’s even a minority browser, let alone extinct. Even assuming that this short-term trend continues.

    Sitepoint stats are fairly irrelevant for the web as a whole. What is surprising is that so many sitepoint readers are still using IE at all.

  • Ketira

    You forgot a browser – FIREFOX! Why isn’t it in your chart?

  • adimauro

    @Stormrider

    I agree with you completely. Bashing Microsoft has gotten to be so cliche. People do it out of habit, even when they make the right choices.

    ALL browsers have their good and bad points. There is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ browser.

    @RyanReese
    If this forum is so adamantly anti-IE, then why does it still have the majority of site visitors? Somebody here is using it…

    I’m on Firefox, by the way. I also wonder why Sitepoint left off Firefox stats.

  • adimauro

    Now we have to still be in a stone age and pain because of those dumbasses who use ie6.

    Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. While almost every computer where I work uses IE7 (except mine, I have IE8 installed), there are still a few with IE6. Why? Because this is a government job, and the county payroll/hr systems are still so old and work in nothing but IE6. Now, let’s see somebody try and convince the government to upgrade! The amount of paperwork, committees, red tape, etc, etc. It’s not going to happen anytime soon, especially during a recession.

  • not a statistician

    why don’t the numbers add up to 100%? even tho there is no x-axis reference, at any horizontal point the total percentages should add up to 100%, no?

  • AnonJr.

    @adimauro:

    Ditto. I work at a county health system and we have some old apps that are not “certified” for anything other than IE6. While they will probably work in newer versions, we can potentially be denied support for using “non-certified” systems. Stupid? yes. Stuck? yup.

    So as long as I keep visiting SitePoint from work, you’ll still see IE on your stats.

  • http://www.lowter.com lotrgamemast

    They left firefox off the card because it was above IE and if they included it the scale of the y axis would be smaller and the IE trend would be harder to see clearly without a larger image. A simple reason really…

  • ravi

    where is FF ?

  • adimauro

    @not a statistician

    They don’t add up to 100% because not all browser stats are included. Firefox takes up the majority of omissions, I’m sure, but there’s also Opera, Konqueror, etc.

  • Arlen

    “This is ridiculous – Microsoft never made ‘bad products’ – IE was the leading browser in the world for a number of years, and IE6 was bang up to date when it was released”

    Ummmm, no. IE6/win wasn’t even as good as IE5 Mac (the mac team at MS, led by Tantek Celik, had created a new rendering engine — tasman — that the rets of us hoped would be adopted by the IE/Win team; instead they scrapped the whole thing). I feel a little like the ancient mariner having to chime in on this, but there was absolutely no point in history where IE6 was the best available browser. It was an improvement on IE5/Win, yes, but that’s about the extent of it.

    “If this forum is so adamantly anti-IE, then why does it still have the majority of site visitors? Somebody here is using it…”

    It doesn’t. Look at the figures and do the math. If IE is running under 30%, and Safari and Chrome together are running between 10-15%, that leaves around 55% of the visitors for every other browser. Opera would have to have a share in the double digits to keep Firefox behind IE.

    @tomek, you have a flaw in your reasoning. Like Mozilla, WebKit (the rendering engine behind Chrome) is Open Source. The only piece of Chrome Google controls is the UI. Everything else is controlled by someone else, so Google can hardly dictate the browser development.

    Some interesting numbers in the log, but the problem is the sampling method isn’t statistically sound. All stats that rely on the logs of one site (or a family of sites) are self-selecting, which makes projections based on them mathematically indefensible.

    Projections must be based on valid data to be relevant. The best you can say is the projection may hold true for sitepoint.com visitors, but not for any other site on the net. And even then, it’s not defensible, because this sort of curve is never a straight line. There’s always a near-asymptotic curve at the end. You could probably come up with an approximation of that part of the curve by breaking out the stats by browser version, and watch how the browser stats perform as they near EOL, then apply that performance to the overall projection.

    Still, it’s good to note that the use of standards-compliant browsers is rising (please, I don’t list IE8 there, because IE8 is an attempt to comply with standards a nearly a decade old; I mean it’s nice to see MS finally admitting that CSS1 and CSS2 are worth following, but they’re still way behind the rest — check their Acid3 score for a reference as to how far behind they are).

  • Mark

    It doesn’t matter who makes the browser. There will always be new technologies. There will always be early adopters and late adopters. There will never come a day when 100% of your users are 100% up to date on all the latest and coolest stuff. Deal with it.

  • Michael

    I work for a local government of a non capital city in Australia. Over the past 18 months the decline of IE6 usage has been linear however the estimation is that it will be extinct December 2010.

    But personally I believe it won’t continue to be linear… it will drop to about 7% or so (from 14.5% unfortunately) and then slow right down. I think.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com ShayneTilley

    Thanks for all the comments and for sharing some of your own browser stats. Just with regards to FF – it’s over 50%, so the dominant browser. I didn’t include it as I wanted to focus more on the decline of IE. If you’re interested, I’m happy to share the FF growth stats.

    Also on the scale, yes I should have included it, but just so you all know — it’s stats going back 5 years, only sitepoint.com traffic.

  • Michael

    Correction of my data… 21% is current IE6 usage. 14.5% was from W3C stats.

    Also you can get interesting results by combining IE browsers less than IE7 in the category “bad browsers” and IE8 + all other browsers in the category “good browsers”

    According to w3 stats the “good browsers” overtook the “bad browsers” in september 2008. and currently good browsers are at 63.60%

  • Ziller

    Any web developer who codes correctly, knows what a headache it is to get a site working in IE. Why each version of IE reads HTML to every other version is beyond me, and in my opinion the sonner IE goes the better.

    People only use IE because they dont know of any alternate version. If they tried the likes of Safari, Firefox or even Chrome, I am sure they would not go back to IE.

  • Derrick Peavy

    Yes, seeing a similar trend on http://www.CollegeClassifieds.com – one year ago, IE was at 70%, now down to 58%. Varies a bit each month, but across all tools that I use (GA, internal DB reports, etc.,) IE continues to slip.

  • http://www.roguearcadescript.com RogueScripts

    Just goes to show, if you make a junky product like internet explorer, and much better products come out like FireFox and Chrome, you will lose your market share no matter how big it is.

  • Tomek

    @Arlen and everyone else who replied to my comment. My point was missed. Here it is again: FF is the best thing to happen to the web dev community. Why would you take away from that? Its free and we control it, not Google, not Microsoft! This is your chance to “stick it to the man”.

  • jaijaz

    This is a ridiculous exercise. Of course site point users will be moving away from IE. The very next blog post, “What is a Web Browser? No One Knows!”, on the Site Point blogs proves that the above figures mean nothing. Obviously the average person who visits the Site Point site are in the “8%” who know what a browser is.

    Our personal experience supports that blog. We don’t support IE6 with our CMS. We find, with at least 90% of our clients they have no idea what a browser is when we ask them what browser they are using.

    For those bitching about IE6 etc. The big reason why 25% of the world still uses it is because they don’t know there is an alternate and/or their company won’t upgrade them. Microsoft has failed to provide a better operating system since XP. XP installs ie6. I don’t believe IE6 will disappear until people upgrade/downgrade from XP and have a new browser installed.

  • Anon

    Because Internet Explorer is part of Windows it wont go extinct, for the non technical minded, they would just stick with Internet Explorer because it’s all they know. However I am hopeful that Internet Explorer does decline as soon as possible!

  • Anonymous

    No firefox?