In the North American Browser War, there is only one winner.
When Microsoft released its super-duper Windows 10 in July 2015, it aggressively pushed people with Windows 7 and 8 to “upgrade” for free to what has turned out to be highly functional and slickly presented corporate spyware. Since then, Windows 10 has been the default system pre-installed on most desktops and laptops sold in North America. It worked: According to StatCounter, Windows 10 now runs on 49% of all PCs (desktop and laptops) in North America.
All Windows versions combined, including Windows 10, run on 74% of PCs in North America, with Apple’s operating systems running on 21%, Chrome OS on 3%, and Linux on 1.6%.
Part of the goal of Microsoft’s push to get people to install Windows 10 was to get them to use Edge, the browser that comes with Windows 10, so that Microsoft could more seamlessly track what these people are doing on the Internet. But people are spurning Edge.
This is clear on my own site, where 42% of all sessions currently take place on mobile devices (smartphones 28% and tablets 14%). Laptops and desktops garner 58%. Edge doesn’t play a visible role on mobile devices. But given how widespread Windows 10 has become, Edge should be a dominant browser on PCs.
Microsoft lost the Browser War a long time ago – against Google. Edge was supposed to reverse that fate. But Microsoft is now getting totally crushed, despite all its efforts with Windows 10 and Edge.
This is confirmed more broadly by StatCounter: Edge has a share of just 3.8% on PCs, smartphones, and tablets in North America, despite the aggressive methods with which it has been pushed since July 2015.
Even Internet Explorer (IE) – which Microsoft stopped supporting and updating, and which by now has so deteriorated that it crashes constantly and thus has become essentially useless – still has a share of 6.1%.
So for PCs, smartphones, and tablets in North America, these are the current results of the Browser War, according to StatCounter:
- Chrome (Google): 49.8%
- Safari (Apple): 29.2%
- Internet Explorer 6.1%
- Firefox (Mozilla): 5.9%
- Edge 3.8%.
All other browsers combined make up the remaining 5.2%.
After Edge hit the market, its share inched up to 1% by September 2015, to 2% by March 2016, and to 3.8% by September 2017. It has remained stuck at this inconsequential level at the bottom of the heap, far below the major browsers.
Since July 2015:
- Chrome gained 9.5 percentage points (from 40.3% to 49.8%)
- Safari gained 5.3 percentage points (from 23.9% to 29.2%)
- Edge gained 3.8 percentage points (from 0% to 3.8%)
- IE lost 9.4 percentage points (from 15.5% to 6.1%), but has stabilized since July 2017.
This chart shows the developments in the Browser War in North America since January 2014 (data from StatCounter). Edge is the red line at the very bottom that is going nowhere:
In other words, Edge, at a 3.8% share, has gained less than half the share that IE has lost over the same period. The rest of IE’s loss went to Chrome. And the combined share of IE and Edge on PCs, smartphones, and tablets dropped from 16.4% in July 2015 to 9.9% now, a miserably low level it has occupied since March 2017:
OK, Microsoft is not a major entity in the mobile space anymore. But its browser should dominate on PCs, where Windows is the dominating operating systems. But no. In North America, on PCs only:
- Chrome: 59.89%
- IE: 11.15%
- Firefox: 10.41%
- Safari: 9.85%
- Edge: 6.97%
- All others: 1.72%
Since the arrival of Edge in July 2015 on desktops and laptops only:
- Chrome’s market share has soared nearly 15 percentage points.
- IE’s share got crushed, as planned, losing nearly 13 percentage points.
- Edge picked up less than 7 percentage points.
- Safari lost less than 1 percentage point.
- Firefox lost over 5 percentage points.
Edge was able to pick up only part of IE’s losses and gave the rest to Chrome. The chart below shows the share of browsers in North America on PCs only:
Most revealing: The share of IE and Edge combined on PCs – despite the fact that Windows is the dominant operating system – has plunged 6.2 percentage points since July 2015 to 18.1% now, with Edge accounting only for about one-third:
There is nothing in the data that indicates Microsoft is making headway with Edge, whose acceptance appears to be, for all practical purposes, dead.
If people spurn Edge on Windows 10 machines for privacy reasons, it would be a step in the right direction, making it just a little harder for Microsoft to collect all their data so easily.
Ironically, the big winner in all this is Chrome – and the corporation behind it, Alphabet. “Ironically” because Alphabet considers browsing and personal data that it can obtain via Chrome a valuable asset to be horded and monetized endlessly via its advertising empire. And it designed Chrome specifically to facilitate this. So switching from Edge to Chrome isn’t doing much to protect your data. It just changes the location where it is stored, analyzed, and monetized. But so be it. People have gotten used to the simple fact that they have become the product.
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