Fully patched versions of Firefox, Chrome, IE 11 and Safari exploited at Pwn2Own hacking competition

As in years past, the latest patched versions of the most popular web browsers around stood little chance against those competing in the annual Pwn2Own hacking competition. The usual suspects – Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer – all went down during the two-day competition, earning researchers a collective total of $557,500 in prize money.

The event, which took place at the CanSecWest conference in Vancouver, was sponsored by the Hewlett-Packard Zero Day Initiative. During the first day, HP awarded $317,500 to researchers that exploited flaws in Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Internet Explorer and Firefox.

eWeek notes that the first reward, paid to a hacker by the name of ilxu1a, was for an out-of-bounds memory vulnerability in Firefox. It took less than a second to execute which earned him a cool $15,000.

Firefox was exploited twice during the event. Daniel Veditz, principal security engineer at Mozilla, said the foundation was on hand during the event to get the bug details from HP. Engineers are already working on a fix back at home, he added, that could be ready as early as today.

Another security researcher, JungHoon Lee, managed to demonstrate exploits against Chrome, IE 11 and Safari. As you can imagine, he walked away with quite a bit of money: $75,000 for the Chrome bug, $65,000 for IE and $50,000 for the Safari vulnerability. He also received two bonuses totaling $35,000.

 

via Fully patched versions of Firefox, Chrome, IE 11 and Safari exploited at Pwn2Own hacking competition – TechSpot.

‘Super cookies’ can track you even in private browsing mode, researcher says

If there’s one thing websites love to do it’s track their users. Now, it looks like some browsers can even be tracked when they’re in private or incognito mode. Sam Greenhalgh of U.K.-based RadicalResearch recently published a blog post with a proof-of-concept called “HSTS Super Cookies.” Greenhalgh shows how a crafty website could still track users online even if they’ve enabled a privacy-cloaking setting.

The key to the exploit is to use HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) for something it wasn’t intended for. HSTS is a modern web feature that allows a website to tell a browser it should only connect to the site over an encrypted connection.

Say, for example, John types SecureSite.com into his browser with HSTS enabled. SecureSite’s servers can then reply to John’s browser that it should only connect to SecureSite over HTTPS. From that point on, all connections to SecureSite from John’s browser will use HTTPS by default.

The problem, according to Greenhalgh, is that for HSTS to work your browser has to store the data about which sites it must connect to over HTTPS. But that data can be manipulated to fingerprint a specific browser. And because HSTS is a security feature most browsers maintain it whether you’re in private or normal mode—meaning that after your browser has been fingerprinted, you can be tracked even if your browser is in incognito mode.

hstssupercookies

Even under cover of incognito mode, HSTS Super Cookies still make browsers trackable.

When in private browsing or incognito mode (sometimes called as “porn mode”) your browser won’t store data such as cookies and browsing history once the private browsing session has ended—unless it’s tricked into doing so by a Super Cookie.

The story behind the story: Although Greenhalgh’s blog post is gaining traction, people have been talking about the privacy and security trade-offs of HSTS for some time. The Chromium team, which creates the open source browser that Chrome is based on, discussed the issue as early as 2011. In 2012, security firm Leviathan published a blog post raising similar concerns, and Robert “RSnake” Hansen raised the issue on his blog ha.ckers.org in 2010.

Protecting yourself

Although this issue has been known for some time it’s not clear if any sites are actually using this weakness to track users. Regardless, you can protect yourself on Chrome by erasing your cookies before going into incognito mode. Chrome automatically flushes the HSTS database whenever you delete your cookies. Firefox does something similar, but Greenhalgh says the latest version of Firefox solved this issue by preventing HSTS settings from carrying over to private browsing modes.

Safari is a bigger problem, however, as there is apparently no obvious way to delete the HSTS database on Apple devices like the iPad or iPhone, Greenhalgh says. HSTS flags are also synced with iCloud, making HSTS Super Cookie tracking even more persistent (at least in theory) when using Apple hardware.

HSTS Super Cookies only appear to work if you first visit a site in a non-private mode. Anyone visiting a site for the first time in private mode will not carry over an HSTS super cookie to their regular browsing.

As for Internet Explorer users, the good news is you are completely protected from this type of tracking! Now for the bad news: It’s because IE doesn’t support HSTS at all.

via ‘Super cookies’ can track you even in private browsing mode, researcher says | PCWorld.

Android passes iOS on the Web, Windows 8 still plateaued

 

Windows 8 and Internet Explorer, especially version 11, have been growing steadily since their release. But that growth came to a halt in June, and it didn’t pick up in July, with Microsoft’s new operating system in fact declining ever so slightly. But one battle that’s been raging for years has quietly seen a big change: Android’s presence on the Web has passed iOS’s.

 

 

The big desktop mover in July was Chrome, which is now up past 20 percent usage share. It gained a substantial 1.03 points, making big gains for two months in a row. Internet Explorer and Firefox both lost out, dropping 0.37 and 0.46 points respectively. Safari and Opera were also slightly down, falling by 0.12 and 0.06 points.

 

 

Safari has been on a downward trajectory for the better part of a year, as Android is making its presence felt on the Web. While Android has been consistently outselling iOS, this hasn’t been well reflected in Web data, suggesting perhaps a different usage pattern among Android buyers. But all those sales count for something. Apple’s browser is down 1.24 points. Android Browser is also down, falling 0.81 points, but Chrome is up a whopping 1.36 points, and the cross-platform Opera Mini is also up, gaining 0.8 points. Mobile Internet Explorer reached a new high, too, gaining 0.49 points in July.

The mobile operating system share (not graphed) is closely aligned with these browser numbers. iOS sits at 44.19 percent, compared to Android’s 44.62 percent, marking the firsts time (according to Net Market Share, the provider of the data we use) that Google’s operating system has passed Apple’s. Windows Phone is also at a new high, at 2.49 percent.

 

 

 

Internet Explorer 11’s growth seems to be well and truly at an end. In June it saw a negligible 0.02 point decline, but in July it was a little more pronounced, dropping 0.23 points. Internet Explorer 8, however, was up 0.31 points. While it does look as if every Internet Explorer 10 user who wants to upgrade to 11 has indeed made that switch, the decline likely represents a shift in Windows usage: Internet Explorer 8 is the version that’s preinstalled in Windows 7, and the newest version that’s available in the obsolete, unsupported, and insecure Windows XP…

 

 

… and as we can see, Windows 7 ticked upwards in July, and Windows XP refuses to disappear. More alarmingly, Windows 8.1 was very marginally down, dropping 0.05 points, and Windows 8.0 fell 0.01 points. Windows 7 was up 0.67 points, in contrast. Windows XP fell 0.49 points, so still a long way to go before that magnet for malware is off the Internet.

 

via: ArsTechnica

Windows 8.x growth flatlines, Internet Explorer 11 makes a splash

November was the first full month of availability for both Windows 8.1 and OS X 10.9. After the initial surge in October, Windows 8.1 increased its usage share of the Web by fifty percent. OS X 10.9, however, almost tripled its share—bringing Apple’s operating system within spitting distance of Microsoft’s.

In the browser space, the launch of Internet Explorer 11 for Windows 7 (as an automatic update, no less) has seen that browser more than double its share in a month.

The state of the desktop browser market as a whole was largely unchanged in November. Internet Explorer, Safari, and Chrome were up marginally, gaining 0.14, 0.06, and 0.02 points respectively. Firefox and Opera saw slight falls, dropping by 0.16 and 0.03 points, respectively.

The mobile market shows a bit more variation. Chrome continues to pick up steam, gaining 1.48 points. Internet Explorer was also up, adding 0.26 points. BlackBerry was down sharply, falling 0.75 points. Safari was also down a little, falling by 0.17 points.

The migration between Chrome and Firefox versions follows the predictable pattern provoked by those browsers’ automatic updates. The newcomer here is Internet Explorer 11. It made its debut with Windows 8.1, and in November it was released for Windows 7 as an automatic update. Rather than the near-immediate global rollouts of those browsers, Microsoft favors a staggered release for Internet Explorer, with the browser being pushed out on a country by country basis.

The advantage of even this limited automatic updating is immediately clear. Internet Explorer 10 lost 1.44 points in November, and Internet Explorer 11 gained 1.78 points.

Internet Explorer 6 and 7 are slowly declining. Nonetheless, there’s clearly a big Internet Explorer 8 sized problem in Microsoft’s browser strategy. This is the newest version of Internet Explorer that works on Windows XP. Much as Microsoft might wish these users to upgrade to a newer operating system, they plainly haven’t.

In a very practical way, they’re holding back the rest of the Web, and even policies such as Google’s decision to support only the current and previous browser versions on many of its services (meaning that the company only supports Internet Explorer 10 and 11) hasn’t done anything to shift these users. Something needs to be done about the problem, especially with Windows XP itself only having a few more months of security updates available, but it’s not clear what Microsoft’s answer is, or if it even has one.

The operating system share has some surprises. Windows 8’s market share wasn’t growing explosively, but it was at least growing. The release of Windows 8.1—an operating system that’s almost universally superior to Windows 8—should, if anything, have helped stimulate that growth. But that appears not to be the case. The total share between the two operating systems (8 and 8.1) was 9.25 percent in October. In November it had barely grown to 9.30 percent.

The contrast with OS X continues to be striking. OS X 10.9 went from 0.84 percent share in October to 2.42 percent in November. This is still behind Windows 8.1’s 2.64 percent—but not by much.

via ArsTechnica

IE10 captures second place among Microsoft's browsers

Internet Explorer 10 (IE10) jumped into second place among Microsoft’s browsers last month, pushing past IE9 through an enforced upgrade.
IE10’s user share climbed from 16.5 percent to a record 24 percent of all copies of Internet Explorer in June, according to Web measurement firm Net Applications.
Among Microsoft’s five supported browsers, IE10 was the second-most-used, leapfrogging the two-year-old IE9, which shed user share to end June with 20.9 percent of all copies of Internet Explorer. The 12-year-old IE6 was fourth with 10.9 percent, while 2009’s IE8 remained in first with 40.4 percent.
IE10’s climb has accelerated: June’s user share increase was the largest since the browser’s introduction on Windows 7 in February. As in previous months, June’s jump was fueled by the automatic update from IE9 to IE10 on Windows 7 that kicked in last winter.
Windows 8’s gradual if not dramatic rise in user share also contributed to IE10’s increase, since that and Windows RT come with IE10: Windows 8’s share grew in June by the largest amount since its October 2012 launch.
Users dump IE9 for IE10
IE10’s climb was mirrored by a large fall in IE9’s user share; the browser that once threatened IE8’s dominance plunged from 27.5 percent of all copies of IE to 20.9 percent. IE9 peaked in February 2013 at 38.8 percent, but unless Microsoft soon runs out of Windows 7 PCs to upgrade, the browser could be eclipsed by the still-surviving IE6 within a couple of months.
Overall, IE remained flat with approximately 56 percent of the user share of all browsers, implying that few if any of IE10’s gains came from people switching browser brands. About 39 percent of all Windows users ran a non-Microsoft browser in June, slightly less than in May.
IE8 lost about seven-tenths of a percentage point in June—the largest decrease since December 2012—to end with a 40.4 percent share of all copies of Internet Explorer. IE8 will remain the most popular of Microsoft’s browsers for some time, experts have said, because as the most modern version available for Windows XP it’s been made the standard in enterprises supporting heterogeneous environments with both Windows XP and Windows 7 systems.
Migration atypical for Microsoft
The rapid rise in IE10’s user share has been unprecedented in Microsoft’s experience. It has been much more akin to the quick turnover by rivals like Chrome and Firefox, which also automatically upgrade users, than any previous edition of Internet Explorer, showing that the Redmond, Washington developer can, if it wants, migrate large numbers of users to a newer browser.

But IE10’s time as a climber will probably be short lived: Microsoft has promised to deliver IE11 for Windows 7, which will trigger a downturn in IE10’s user share and corresponding rise in IE11.
Other browsers stayed in their long-inhabited positions grew and shrank in Net Applications’ measurements, with Chrome exiting June with 17.2 percent, an increase of 1.4 percentage points, and Firefox dropping by 1.5 points to 19.2 percent. Apple’s Safari and Opera Software’s Opera remained flat at 5.6 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.
via IE10 captures second place among Microsoft’s browsers | PCWorld.

Internet Explorer 10 takes chunks out of IE9, Windows 8 closes on Vista

One wonders what the browser market would look like if Microsoft had enabled automatic updates before. Though the overall positions in the market were little changed in May, one thing is clear: Internet Explorer 10’s uptake is fast, in a way that no older version of the browser has ever been.

Internet Explorer was up slightly, picking up 0.18 points for a 55.99 percent share of the desktop market. Firefox had stronger growth, up 0.33 points to 20.63 percent. Chrome was the month’s big loser, dropping 0.61 points to 15.74 percent—its lowest share since August 2011. Safari was marginally up, adding 0.08 points to reach an all-time high of 5.46 percent. Opera ended the month up 0.04 percent points, at 1.77 percent.
As such, there are no major changes in the overall positions and shares. The big change comes within each browser. Microsoft has traditionally seen fairly slow uptake of new browser versions. Unlike Firefox and Chrome, Internet Explorer didn’t upgrade automatically, instead being distributed via Windows Update with a license click-through generally needed before it installed.

Internet Explorer 10 is different, distributed as an automatic, silent update for Windows 7 users. It looks like this is having quite an effect on its uptake. 9.29 percent of Web users are now using Internet Explorer 10, up from 6.04 percent last month. This means that it has overtaken crusty old Internet Explorer 6 with its 6.4 percent share and is well up on Internet Explorer 7, at just 1.79 percent.

IE 10 is still some way behind versions 8 and 9, at 23.09 percent and 15.39 percent, respectively. There wasn’t much overall growth in Internet Explorer’s market share. That’s because 10 grew largely at the expense of 9, which lost 2.78 points last month—which is what one would expect if the growth is coming from updaters.
Compared to Firefox and Chrome, it’s clear that Microsoft’s cut-overs to new versions are nowhere near as clean and efficient as the competition, which can both boast that the lion’s share of their users are on a recent version. Nonetheless, this is still a big improvement on past versions of Internet Explorer. Version 9—which was, at its launch, a good browser—never managed to add as much as 3 points in a single month. Version 10 has now done so two months running. If Microsoft had used automatic updates on older versions of its browser, it’s easy to imagine that versions 6 and 7 would by now be distant memories. Alas, no such luck.
This growth is coming almost all on the back of Windows 7, not Windows 8. Windows 8 now stands at a 4.27 percent share of the market—growing, but only slowly. Windows 7 is still the leader at 44.85 percent, with Windows XP second at 37.74 percent—in spite of that operating system having less than a year to go before its support ends.

Over in the mobile space, it’s the same old story as always. Safari and Opera Mini were up a bit each, gaining 0.56 points and 0.63 points, respectively. Android Browser was down, falling 2.16 points, though this was offset slightly by Chrome, which gained 0.59 points. Mobile Internet Explorer is also back on the up, adding 0.33 points for a 1.97 percent share.
via Ars Technica

Chrome hits 17-month low, Windows 8 still only creeping upward

Microsoft’s browser did as well as Google’s browser did badly in February. Internet Explorer’s share is the highest it’s been in a year and a half. Chrome’s is the lowest it’s been in almost as long.

Internet Explorer was up 0.68 points to 55.82 percent. Firefox was back up above 20 percent, growing 0.18 points to 20.12 percent. Chrome was down sharply, losing a surprising 1.21 (giga) points, for a share of 16.27 percent. Safari and Opera were both up slightly, with gains of 0.18 and 0.07 points for a total of 5.42 and 1.82 percent, respectively.
Good news for Internet Explorer, but rather more mixed news for Windows 8. Microsoft’s new operating system is growing, but not fast. Its share in February was 2.67 percent, a rise of 0.41 points on a month ago. This makes Windows 8 bigger than any single version of OS X (10.8 is the largest, with a 2.61 percent share), but it’s still the smallest supported version of Windows. Even Windows Vista is faring better, with 5.17 percent of the Internet-using public.
As we noted last month, the results are better in certain demographics. According to the Steam Hardware Survey, Windows 8 grew by a total of 0.87 points, taking it to 9.63 percent of that gamer-heavy user base. Among Steam users, this means that Windows 8 has overtaken Windows XP, which has an aggregate of 9.33 percent, though 32-bit Windows XP is still slightly larger than 64-bit Windows 8, with 8.97 percent compared to 8.89 percent.
Just how bad is this? It’s not the explosive growth that Microsoft or its OEMs were probably hoping for. On the other hand, it’s not altogether surprising given the way the product is positioned. Windows 8 is a consumer play. There are features that are desirable in corporate environments, but Microsoft knows that corporations are still working on ditching Windows XP and continuing their Windows 7 deployments. A company that has only switched to Windows 7 in the last couple of years—much less a company that’s still in the process of switching to Windows 7—isn’t going to be in any hurry to get Windows 8.
Strong consumer growth, however, needs strong consumer products, and so far these have been lacking. The hybrid devices that mix aspects of the tablet and the laptop are getting better, but they’re still not perfect. On the software front, the Windows Store still leaves plenty to be desired, too; Microsoft’s built-in applications, especially Mail, remain a serious weakness, and third-party support has been lackluster. Notably absent is any kind of a widely appealing “must-have” touch application.

In the more volatile mobile space, now representing a little over 13 percent of all Web users, Safari remained on top, though it dropped 5.61 points from last month. Internet Explorer is continuing to grow. It’s still tiny, but at 1.58 percent, it has now passed Symbian (1.37 percent), BlackBerry (0.96 percent), and Opera Mobile (0.63 percent), putting it within striking distance of Chrome for Android, which in February had a 1.96 percent market share.

Mozilla is showing no ability to reach out to users of old versions of Firefox to get them upgrading. While about three-quarters of the Firefox user base is doing a reasonable job of staying up to date, there’s a long tail of obsolete versions, some of them very out of date. These versions are all susceptible to numerous security flaws.
In the early days of Mozilla’s post-Firefox 4 releases, there was a period of initial user discomfort due to the way the company had implemented its rapid release process. Firefox extensions would regularly break, and the update process wasn’t automatic. Perhaps as a result of this, users chose to ignore updates or refused to install them. This decision might have made some sense at the time, but it’s rather harder to justify today.

Internet Explorer 9 and 10 both grew. Over the coming months, many Internet Explorer 9 users should be switched automatically to Internet Explorer 10 thanks to this week’s release of Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7. For the first time, Microsoft is publishing this release as an important update that Windows Update will install automatically on systems using the default configuration.
This isn’t going to give Internet Explorer the same kind of rapid uptake that new versions of Chrome manage, but it will nonetheless be a big step in the right direction, helping the adoption of the actually rather good Internet Explorer 10.
via Ars Technica

Internet Explorer still growing as Windows 7 starts its decline

In the first month of 2013, Internet Explorer’s desktop market share is continuing to slowly climb upwards, with Firefox consolidating its number two spot. There are signs that Windows 7 may have peaked as Windows 8 is slowly picking up users.

January was a good month for Microsoft’s browser, up 0.37 points to 55.14 percent. Firefox also grew, up 0.12 points to 19.94 percent. Chrome fell, down 0.56 points to 17.48 percent. Safari was unchanged at 5.24 percent, and Opera up a hair, gaining 0.04 points to reach 1.75 percent.
The improvement of Internet Explorer’s position masks a story that’s decidedly mixed for Microsoft. Windows 7 fell for the first time in January, dropping 0.63 points from a high of 45.11 percent to 44.48 percent. Windows 8’s slow growth is continuing, up 0.54 points from 1.72 percent to 2.26 percent. There’s also a small number of tablet users, with 0.08 percent on Windows 8 Touch and a minuscule 0.02 percent on Windows RT Touch.
Taken together, the growth by the Windows 8 family seems to be covering the losses Windows 7 has incurred, but that’s surprisingly weak. With corporations still migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7—a process that should continue even in spite of Windows 8’s release—one would expect Windows 7 and 8 to both be growing.
There are, however, signs that Windows 8 is catching on, at least in some audiences. Valve’s latest hardware survey results are out, with Windows 8 up 1.83 points in January, to a total of 8.76 percent (overwhelmingly favoring the 64-bit version). The Valve hardware survey arguably represents the enthusiast segment of the market; virtually all hardcore gamers are using Steam (though Steam also has plenty of non-hardcore games), but it appears that at least that group is happy to make the switch.

The news in mobile is more unambiguously improved for Microsoft. Unsurprisingly, Safari remains totally dominant, up 0.46 points to 61.02 percent. Android has a firm hold on second place, down 0.64 points to 21.46 percent. The surprise story is Internet Explorer; after languishing below 1 percent for years, it has posted relatively strong gains for the last couple of months, in January picking up 0.18 points for a total of 1.34 percent. Windows 8 may be struggling to win hearts and minds in the tablet space, but Windows Phone seems to have turned a corner.

The Chrome and Firefox automatic updaters remain as solid as ever. Over the last year a familiar pattern has emerged: while almost everyone is updated by Chrome’s installer, each new version of Firefox is leaving some users behind, and those users are sticking with their old browser versions for a prolonged period. Why this should be isn’t clear; although the Firefox updater was initially problematic, nowadays it’s pretty solid and effective. The users of the very old versions are susceptible to all manner of security flaws; it is perhaps only their relative obscurity keeping them safe.
Just as January saw Windows 7’s first decline, so too did it see Internet Explorer 9’s first decline. Similarly, just as the Windows 8 gains offset the Windows 7 losses, the Internet Explorer 10 gains are offsetting the Internet Explorer 9 losses. Internet Explorer 10 usage is still less than half of the level of Windows 8 usage, however, indicating that a majority of Windows 8 users simply aren’t interested in Redmond’s browser. The release of Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7 isn’t too far off; this should see greater uptake of Microsoft’s latest and greatest browser.
via Ars Technica

The BIG browser benchmark (January 2013 edition)

It has only been a couple of months since the last Big Browser Benchmark but there has been enough changes to warrant a re-running the tests. There’s also a new benchmark test to put the browsers through their paces.
Let’s pit the leading browsers against four of the toughest benchmark tests available to see which one is triumphant. Here are the browsers that will be put through their paces:
Chrome 24
Chrome 23 (left in the listing for comparison with newer release)
Firefox 18
Firefox 16 (left in the listing for comparison with newer release)
Opera 12
Internet Explorer 9 (32-bit)
Internet Explorer 10 (32-bit)
Safari 5
Here are the tests that the browsers will face:
SunSpider JavaScript 0.9.1: A JavaScript benchmark developed by Apple’s WebKit team in 2007 with a focus on real-world problem solving;
V8 Benchmark Suite: A pure JavaScript benchmark used by Google to tune the V8 JavaScript engine;
Peacekeeper: FutureMark’s JavaScript test which stress-tests features such as animation, navigation, forms and other commonly utilized tasks;
Kraken 1.0: Another JavaScript benchmark developed by Mozilla. This is based on SunSpider but features crucial benchmarking enhancements;
RoboHornet: A Google-led open-source browser benchmark.
Octane: Google’s new benchmark, based on the V8 test suite.
All testing carried out on a Windows 7 (32-bit) machine, running a P8600 2.4GHz dual-core processor, 4GB RAM, and an NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics card.
Full Story: The BIG browser benchmark (January 2013 edition) | ZDNet.

Internet Explorer ends the year on a high, Windows 8 slow to get noticed

Internet Explorer finished 2012 with its highest market share since August 2011. In spite of a few close calls, Firefox maintained its lead over Chrome, holding on to second place for the full year.

Microsoft’s browser was virtually unchanged, up 0.01 points at 54.77 percent. Firefox was down 0.62 points at 19.82 percent, dropping below 20 percent for the second time in three months. Chrome was up 0.8 points to 18.04 percent, its first gain since August. Of the also-rans, Safari was down slightly, dropping 0.09 points to 5.24 percent, and Opera was up 0.04 points to 1.71 percent.
Chrome suffered setbacks in early 2012, with Google penalizing its own browser for a promotional campaign that broke the search engine’s marketing rules, and accordingly saw Chrome’s online presence plummet in Google’s rankings. Mozilla, meanwhile, started hitting its stride with its rapid release schedule for Firefox: over the last year, the browser has gained both an automatic, mostly transparent updater (similar to Chrome’s), and a series of enterprise-friendly releases that promise to provide long-term security updates (though “long-term” in this rapid release world translates only to about 30 weeks).
Microsoft’s position has been buoyed by the continued strong uptake of Windows 7, and with it, Internet Explorer 9.

In the mobile market, Android’s position has continued to strengthen over the course of the year, but Apple’s iOS devices remain more widely represented on the Web. December presented a rare highlight for Microsoft on the mobile Web, too; for the first time in more than two years, Internet Explorer took more than 1 percent of the mobile browsing market. Redmond’s browser remains a tiny player overall, but a larger share of a larger market may be a small sign that Windows Phone is starting to see a little success.

Chrome and Firefox are settling into their now established updated patterns. Both browsers see a majority of their users make the switch to each new version automatically, but a minority of users are getting stuck on an older, unsupported version of the browser, and subsequently taking a long time to upgrade. About 1.8 percent of Web users are on a version of Chrome that’s at least two versions out of date (that’s about 10 percent of all Chrome users), and 5 percent of Web users are on an obsolete, unpatched version of Firefox—fully a quarter of all Firefox users.

The end of the year was more mixed for Microsoft. There are some things that the company will be pleased about. Its overall share of the browser market grew, with Internet Explorer 9 almost doubling its usage, and the ancient Internet Explorer 6 losing about a quarter of its users over the course of the year. However, Redmond’s big concern is likely to be Windows 8.
The picture here is murky. Net Market Share tracks the operating systems that browsers report alongside the browser versions themselves, giving some insight into usage levels. For December, Windows 8 had a 1.72 percent share, compared to 39.08 percent for Windows XP, 5.67 percent for Windows Vista, and 45.11 percent for Windows 7. This level of usage puts it closer to Linux, at 1.19 percent, Mac OS X Mountain Lion, at 2.27 percent, Mac OS X Lion, at 2 percent, or Mac OS X Snow Leopard, at 2.07 percent.
That’s not the explosive start that the PC industry was hoping for. However, there are some slightly more encouraging signs out there. Akamai, the content distribution company, has published Web usage stats for the last few months. The broad trends that Akamai identifies are comparable to those of Net Market Share; Internet Explorer has the lead, with around 55 percent of the desktop market, with Chrome and Firefox trailing behind it (though according to Akamai, Chrome, with a share of about 18 percent, is leading Firefox, with a share of about 15 percent).
Akamai, unlike Net Market Share, provides data with daily granularity, albeit with a lag of a few days (the most recent day available is December 27). This demonstrates a consistent trend. During the working week, Internet Explorer 7 and 8 gain users (about 9 and 19 percent, respectively), at the expense of Internet Explorer 9 and Chrome (at 29 and 19 percent each). During weekends, the two old Microsoft browsers lose users (down to 8 percent for 7, 13 percent for 8), and Internet Explorer 9 and Chrome both gain them (up to 32 and 20 percent). The implication here is that people are more likely to be stuck with some combination such as Windows XP and Internet Explorer 8 at work, but have access to Windows 7 and Chrome when they’re at home.
Christmas Day showed a similar trend; as a non-working day, Internet Explorer 9 was up, 7 and 8 were down. However, Akamai’s data also shows a surge in usage of a version of Internet Explorer that isn’t explicitly identified, but which isn’t version 6, 7, 8, or 9. These unknown Internet Explorer versions have registered at about 1 percent during the week, 1.3 percent during the weekend, but went up to 2.4 percent on Christmas Day—a sign that there just might be a lot of new Windows 8 or Windows RT PCs given as Christmas gifts.
Akamai is yet to publish data spanning the first weekend after Christmas, so it’s too soon to see if this new version will continue to show up on non-working days, but if it does then it might just show that Internet Explorer 10—and hence Windows 8—is starting to gain traction, at least among home users.
via: Ars Technica