Microsoft: Don’t compare IE9 downloads to Firefox 4

Microsoft has attempted to cast doubt on Firefox 4’s download success, saying comparisons between the Mozilla browser, Chrome and IE9 aren’t fair.

Microsoft: Don't compare IE9 downloads to Firefox 4

The trio of browsers were all recently updated, leading many to compare the number of downloads – which Microsoft said was “premature at best, and misleading at worst.”

Mozilla claimed 7.5 million downloads in the first day – well over the 2.3 million Microsoft recorded on IE9’s debut day a week earlier. Firefox 4’s download tracking page claims more than 48 million at the time of publication.


Check out our reviews of Internet Explorer 9 and Firefox 4

However, Microsoft is claiming the comparison is unfair, as most IE9 users don’t download new browsers directly, but receive the update via Microsoft’s automated system.

“In the case of IE9 which RTW-ed [released to web] on 14 March, we just turned on Windows Update for IE9 RTW yesterday – even then only for existing IE9 Beta and RC users,” said Ryan Gavin, senior director for Internet Explorer business and marketing, on the Windows blog.

“We have yet to turn on any updating for any Windows customers who have not previously downloaded the IE9 Beta or IE9 RC,” he claimed. “So, every IE9 download is from a customer actively seeking out Internet Explorer 9 and downloading it. No automatic update or in-product prompts.”

Of course, what matters in the end is not how many people download the browser, but its usage rate. As of yesterday, Net Applications reported Firefox 4 had a market share of 4.06%, while IE9 had 1.41%.

No IE9 on XP

Microsoft also vaguely acknowledged complaints that its latest browser doesn’t work on its most used operating system, the ten-year-old XP.

“To truly move the web forward and give developers and designers new capabilities that will make their experiences as rich as native apps, you can’t optimise for the lowest common denominator,” Gavin said.

“Adoption on Windows 7 is what we care about most,” he added.

Because the only target is Windows 7, Gavin said to really compare between browsers, analysts must consider the installed user base.

“With IE9, you essentially need to multiply by a factor of almost three times to account for the difference in addressable base,” he claimed.

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