Microsoft Corp. released a new version of its Internet Explorer Web browser today, aiming to stem market-share losses to Firefox, Google Inc.’s Chrome and Apple Inc.’s Safari.
Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, marked the public release of a test version of Internet Explorer 9 at an event in San Francisco. The software offers support for HTML 5 technology and loads pages faster.
Internet Explorer’s share of the browser market has fallen to 60 percent from 74 percent about two years earlier, as Firefox, Chrome and Safari gain ground, according to Net Applications. With Chrome usage up sevenfold, Microsoft needs to ensure that users keep their focus on the Windows operating system, rather than run programs through Google’s browser, said Matt Rosoff, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, a research firm in Kirkland, Washington.
“Based on developer buzz, it seems tech enthusiasts are more excited about IE 9 than any version of IE in recent times,” Rosoff said. “We might start to see IE regain some market share from Firefox,” whose growth has slowed, he said. “Chrome still seems to be the one people are most interested in, in terms of the cutting edge.”
Market share for Firefox, made by Mozilla Corp., rose to 23 percent last month from 19 percent about two years earlier, according to Net Applications, which tracks Internet usage statistics. Chrome jumped to 7.5 percent from 1.1 percent, and Safari climbed to 5.2 percent from 2.8 percent.
Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, had as much as 97 percent of the Internet-browser market as recently as 2003.
Internet Explorer’s HTML 5 support delivers high-quality video playback faster and lets users do things like open a virtual book and flip through its pages. The set of technologies may eventually replace Adobe Systems Inc.’s Flash and Microsoft’s competing Silverlight, Rosoff said.
At the event, the company showed how its Bing search engine can take advantage of the new browser to put video images on the home page and let users zoom in to images on the home page.
Microsoft rose 9 cents to $25.12 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have dropped 18 percent this year.