Browser Trends January 2015: IE8 Usage ... Triples?!

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In last month’s browser trends report, Internet Explorer slipped further below the 20% mark but the latest figures from StatCounter indicate some strange user behavior…

Worldwide Desktop & Tablet Browser Statistics, November to December 2014

The following table shows browser usage movements during the past month.

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Have US web users suddenly turned nostalgic for ancient browsers?

Maybe everyone went home for the holidays and used their parents’ dusty old desktop, which hasn’t seen a software update since 2009…


That’s the best answer I’ve heard so far.

Or what if a bunch of people who mostly use a phone/tablet for their ‘daily drive’ all of a sudden got Fitbits or Vivoflexes or Parrot Drones or whatever for Christmas? And all these gadgets are best set up using a computer rather than a phone, so they drag the laptop out for the first time in months?

Dunno. Just thinking out loud.

It reminds me of the T-1000 Terminator falling into a vat of molten metal: seconds before extinction, it appears to have a resurgence, morphing into all sorts of tortured, animated forms … before fading to a few bubbles and then disappearing forever …

Well, here’s hoping, anyway! :stuck_out_tongue:

I still love Vista, baby!

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IE 8 traffic is fake bot traffic, generated by CPM ad networks to deceive advertisers.

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If you’re serious, I’d love to see some evidence of that. Got a link?

For me, the most likely explanation is an error made by SiteCounter when inputting or recording the raw data. This kind of jump in a dying browser, and in only one country, just isn’t possible.

I don’t think it’s necessarily impossible but it’s certainly not indicative of real user behaviour. A StatCounter problem or algorithm update is a reasonable explanation but it’s strange it’s affected one browser in one country only?

The scale and focus of the increase leads me to DoS attacks but it could be a combination of unusual factors.

This sounds feasible to me. I love using Windows Server 2005 R2 to do some automated stuff, simply because it has one of the smallest hardware footprints available and makes the least amount of impact when running it as a VM. It comes with IE 6 and is only upgradable to 8 I believe. I usually install a lightweight Opera instance, though…

Adding to that, StatCounter isn’t exactly a mainstream service anymore and could probably easily swayed like this from a single distributed bot network. Be it a CPM scam or just any other kind of legitimate or illegitimate network. Does anyone know the actual numbers behind StatCounter’s analytics?

Though, I’m kind of with @louislazaris and I wonder if you have any real data to back this up or if you’re just making an assumption?

Definitely not a data entry error. The trend continues in their January graphs:

I’m inclined to agree that this is the result of bot or zombie traffic. Could be the DDoS attacks on Sony / PSN / Xbox / et. al., or CPM fraud, or any one of a million things… but IE8 wouldn’t just jump up that high overnight based on real utilization. It HAS to be a miscount by some means.

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The use of Windows 8.1 share increased September to November per:

With the increased use of IE 11, perhaps more instances of compatibility mode also went with this? The user agent for IE 11 will reflect MSIE 7.0 or 8.0 depending on the enterprise mode vs. compatibility view:

I was going to say something close to what Ophelie said; my guess is that a lot of older people who rarely use computers were shopping online in December to avoid going out to the malls. We’d need to see what sites these numbers were pulled from to know. Otherwise, this is all conjecure.

Haha that is gold, Ralph!

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Wouldn’t the statistics from Net Market Share be more accurate?

How can we know? They sure are different!

NetMarketShare collect information from 40,000 websites. StatCounter is from 3 million. It’s definitely not “more accurate” - just different. In addition, NMS apply weightings to individual countries which could sway the results.


Compatibility mode is generally enabled on corporate intranets rather than the wider web. Therefore, it shouldn’t have a significant impact because StatCounter wouldn’t be monitoring that traffic.

Besides, Windows 8.1 usage increased worldwide - so why did the IE8 growth only occur in the USA? Even Canada and South America didn’t experience it.

Possibly, but I don’t think it’s that simple - older people exist outside of the USA!

In my experience, the older generation aren’t using antiquated PCs either. Those with more time and disposable income (and perhaps less mobility) tend to use their PC more often and update regularly.

Do we know the sites or types of sites that experienced the increase in IE usage? If they’re data heavy sites, my other theory is that web scraping technology might rely on old browser editions/emulation and therefore if those sites are being heavily scraped it could influence the amount of older user agents they’re seeing.

I don’t know very much about statistics myself, but I was talking to someone who works for IBM and handles statistics as part of his job. His input about it was, “the NMS stats are from the top sites which probably account for 80% of the network traffic. StatsCounter is “free” and not used by major players that account for the majority of network traffic. I would do the match for you, but let’s take an example. If StatsCounter has 3,000,000 “FREE” subscribers with 3,000,000,000 (3 billion) hits a month, then NMS has over 15,000,000,000 (15 billion or 5X) the data. That means StatsCounter is not the weight of all internet usages. Multipliers are statistical ways to weigh data and it’s normal.”