Internet Explorer 8 has overtaken Internet Explorer 6 as the most popular browser in the world, after security flaws were publicly exposed in the older version.
The latest version of Microsoft’s browser has finally overtaken Internet Explorer 6, now accounting for 22.3 per cent of the global browser market in January 2010, according to market share measurements carried out by NetApplications.
Interestingly IE8 only took 10 months to become the global browser leader. However, its recent boost can probably be attributed to many people moving away from IE6, after Microsoft admitted that Internet Explorer was the weak link in recent hacker attacks on Google's systems in China.
Both France and Germany’s governments respectively advised computer users to download an alternative web browser to the most popular browser in the world, after a security flaw was detected.
The French government issued an advisory to computer users, recommending that they switch to a different web browser, such as Firefox or Google Chrome. It follows a similar move by the German government, after it was discovered that Internet Explorer contained the serious security flaw that could be exploited by cybercriminals. The UK Government did not issue a similar warning.
However, Microsoft advised that Internet Explorer users should download the latest version of the browser, as no exploitation of IE8 had yet occurred, according to their research.
As a result IE6, famously the long running most popular browser on a global scale, saw its market share fall to 20.1 per cent last month.
Earlier this week, both Google and the Department of Health respectively announced that they would be phasing out support for IE6.
The ageing version of Microsoft’s browser is still used by some 300,000 health workers, but the Department of Health is now advising that hospitals and other users upgrade to at least version seven of the software as soon as possible. Security flaws are the main reason that has been cited, but poor performance is also a problem for users of IE6.
Google, which is currently marketing its own browser Chrome, said that it will begin to phase out support for IE6 from March 1. From that point Google Docs, the online word processor, and Google Sites, the website building tool, will cease to offer the bulk of their functionality in IE6. Both currently invite users to upgrade to a more modern browser, as does Google’s YouTube video site. The company has said that it will phase out all support, including for Gmail, from IE6 by the end of the year.
In the latest browser statistics, Google’s Chrome grew its global share to 3.9 per cent – but is still a long way behind Firefox, which saw its share rise with Firefox 3.5, its latest version, and now accounts for 17.1 per cent of the market.