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Modern web browser adoption better than expected: 71% run latest version

Web browsers

Web developers fight a constant struggle: They want to use modern web browser features, but they also need to take browser adoption into consideration. If a large portion of their users run older versions of browsers, web developers will be limited in what they can accomplish.

With this in mind, we decided to find out how many people are running the latest version of their browser, whether it be Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari or Opera.

The current situation

Before we go any further, we should point out that what we examine in this article is the situation right now. The numbers will vary a bit over time since they are dependent on new browser versions being launched, how long ago the latest versions have been on the market, etc.

To make sure the numbers are up-to-date, we based them on stats for the first four days of November. That should be a decent snapshot of the current situation. The data is from StatCounter, based on visitor stats from more than 3 million websites.

How many are running the latest version of their web browser?

For the record, the latest official (major) versions right now are Internet Explorer 8.0, Firefox 3.6, Chrome 7.0, Safari 5.0 and Opera 10.6.

Summary:

  • 91% of Chrome users run version 7.0.
  • 81% of Firefox users run version 3.6.
  • 77% of Opera users run version 10.6.
  • 71% of Safari users run version 5.0.
  • 60% of Internet Explorer users run version 8.0.
  • The share of Internet users who are running the latest official, major version of either Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari or Opera is 71%.

It’s not strange that Chrome “wins” this since it’s currently the only browser with automated upgrades (they are handled in the background). It will most likely be a bit higher a few weeks from now since there’s still a small portion of version 6 users that haven’t upgraded yet. Another thing that brings down the number a bit are the various beta and developer versions.

Getting users to upgrade

Convincing users to upgrade their browsers can be a challenge, and browser developers have had varying levels of success with this. We studied this in detail a while back, and it’s still an interesting read if you’re curious to see how quickly various browsers tend to be upgraded.

We can’t help but think that webmasters can do their part here as well by educating their users when possible (and where appropriate, of course).

Final words

To be honest, the situation is better than we expected. To know that 71% of users are running the latest version of their browser is good news for web developers. It means that websites hoping to make use of the latest browser features have a pretty good user base to pick from.

The black sheep in the flock is Internet Explorer. Of the people running Internet Explorer, 25% are still running version 7, and 14% are still running version 6. Hopefully Microsoft will be able to convince most of those users to upgrade to version 9 once it becomes available.



16 comments
vulcanmeister
vulcanmeister

I use Firefox (3.6.12), but I was wondering if the results for IE might be misleading. When they are referring to "users", how many are for personal use and how many are corporate users. Speaking for my own company, we are forced to use IE and the upgrades to the latest version are not fast in coming. Therefore the 60% IE response could, at least in part, be due to corporate users who don't have the option of upgrading. Just a thought.

NISHAD
NISHAD

I'm using Mozilla Firefox 4.0 Beta 6

Paul
Paul

The comparison needs to incorporate time since the last major release for each browser - otherwise it isn't comparing apples with apples.

Rafael
Rafael

0.29% of all users are running IE9. Of course the stats aren't that accurate...

Oleg
Oleg

Let's say thanks to Mozilla for their update system - most of common Firefox users run latest version of browser, making all the web more secure

Liberty
Liberty

While the updates are comming fast and furious for browsers. It seems that folks don't upgrade their OS's very fast any more. So many people still running XP. Maybe its the economy .. Browsers don't involve cash investment.

Peter Kasting
Peter Kasting

It seems like a more useful stat would be "number of users on the latest stable version, or higher". So users of Chrome 7/8/9, Firefox 3.6/4, Opera 10.6/11, etc. This would more accurately show "outdated" users. Right now, they're mixed with users who are on the bleeding edge, which doesn't seem like a good grouping.

Sebastian
Sebastian

It would also be nice to see the long tail of two major releases back. This would be for example FF prior to 3.5 or IE6 and older. Or are these numbers so low, that they would not show up in the chart at all?

Bozzy
Bozzy

Like someone stated earlier, your article hopes that everyone gets to IE 9 at some point, but you make no mention that XP is not going away anytime soon (And if you don't already know, IE 9 will not be compatible with XP).

Ian
Ian

Just curious, how many folks were running IE9?

Erik
Erik

When defining the latest version, do you take into account the major version or all small updates. In other words, do you differ between Firefox 3.6.10 and 3.6.11? I've seen similar patterns from my logs where the users of safari/firefox/chrome/opera almost always use the latest version while the distribution for IE is something similar to your numbers. Unfortunately i don't think IE9 will change this very much, most people running IE do it by default and not by choice so they will not know about the update plus IE9 does not run on XP. Actually the numbers for IE might even get worse after IE9 is released as it's not default on any Microsoft OS yet and the XP-base is still very big. This also brings up how unfair the comparison is, IE8 has been out for what? +2 years, while chrome 7 was released this month.

S
S

You guys do realize that Microsoft has left no hope for folks running Windows XP wrt Internet Explorer 9. :) Of course no one should be running Windows XP after like 8-9 years of launch. But a lot of people still do.

Raki
Raki

I curious that is the 71% takes into account of the market share of each browser posses into the equation

Pingdom
Pingdom

@Peter Kasting: Although you have a point, the number of users who run versions newer than the official version are just a tiny share of the browser users. This survey would have looked almost identical had we included them. For example, Chrome 8 and 9 users together make up less than 2% of all Chrome users, IE 9 users make up less than 0.6% of all IE users, Firefox 4 users make up 1.2% of all Firefox users. You get the picture.

Pingdom
Pingdom

@Erik: Those would be considered the same. As the article states, it's about "the latest official (major) versions."

Pingdom
Pingdom

@Raki: Yes, it does. I.e. it reflects the actual share of Internet users running the latest version of their web browser.