Which is the more popular web browser?

Late yesterday, I asked "Which web browser do you use?" -- not really planning a follow-up post. But given Betanews reader response, the informal -- and purely anecdotal -- poll warrants something more. Drum roll, please. And the most popular browser -- Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari or something else -- is: none of them. Betanews readers generally use more than one, which supports what I explained yesterday: NetApplications' monthly browser stats refer to usage share, not the stated market share.

That said, you generally prefer the newest browser(s) when available, and some of you generally use one lots more than others. Very few respondents cited need to use Internet Explorer for corporate compatibility reasons, suggesting Microsoft's efforts to move enterprises away from ActiveX has largely succeeded. In fact, only one respondent mentioned ActiveX at all, which further supports my supposition.

A few qualifiers: Early respondents largely favored Internet Explorer and later ones tended towards Firefox or Chrome. That difference reflects US readers responding first and those in Europe later. Additionally, the responses I've chosen are not representative of reader support for Internet Explorer. For this post, I ignored commenters who hadn't given a formal (hopefully real) name -- with one exception. For some reason, more IE users are anonymous commenters.

Tom Thumb (his real name?) is the quintessential multiple-browser user -- to an extreme: "Firefox 4 is my primary browser, I like the ability to customize it to my preferences, but I have a copy of perhaps 9 other browsers which I experiment with. I do not use IE8 very much -- for an IE clone I prefer Avant, or Maxthon 2, even Slimbrowser. Have tried Chrome and its variations, but just can not warm up to them. Opera, is ok, but I don't use it anymore than IE8. I have no experience with IE9 as I still run XP, but am considering a move to Windows 7, so we will see."

David Xaus: "Opera 10 at home, Firefox 4 at work. Keep checking every Chrome build and like it, but don't use it so much."

Jason Kohlhoff uses "IE 9 RC at home, and IE 8 at work. IE is still the only browser that corporate IT can manage and trust."

Jeff Faughn gives statistics: "Chrome 90 percent; IE8 9 percent; Firefox 1%. I use the most current versions of each." I asked in follow-up email what the statistics looked like a year ago. "Actually, they were the same. I have a specific use for Firefox (CrazedList for multiple area Craigslist searches and so far Firefox is the only browser that will allow me to disable the referrer URL) and almost all of my personal browsing is done on Chrome, simply because of the speed of it. I use IE when I come across a site that doesn't behave with Chrome."

"I've tried em all, but have always preferred using IE," John Janoscrat writes by email. "It would be difficult for me to really say why I like IE over all the rest, but I guess I'm one of those that once they find a program they like, it's gonna take an 'earth shattering' program to make me switch. That said, a couple of things I do appreciate about IE is the intergration of the Norton Security Suite 2011 with namely the Norton Safe Search, and the Norton Identity Safe, both which I rely on."

Tobias Lind answers in comments: "I've used Chrome for the last year. I used to use IE and Firefox, but no more. I still use them to test my webpages, but they feel very slow now compared to Chrome (just starting FF takes a lot of time!)."

"IE8/FF, depending on my mood," Frank Wick writes in comments. "I will likely increase my share of IE9 when it is RTW. I am using the RC now on another machine and LOVE LOVE LOVE it."

I made one exception to real names in the responses -- Betanews reader ye110mann Mann, for being a member since 2004 and posting a funny response:

Firefox is like Windows. No matter how much I complain and want to switch to something else, I always come back because it just does almost everything I need it to do.

Chrome is like Mac OS. Trendy. Cutting edge. Built for dummies.

Safari is like iOS. It's Chrome's little brother.

Opera is like Linux. The 5 people who use it are fanatics.

IE is like paper and pen. We all started out on it and we still occasionally fall back on it.

"I mainly only use Firefox and Internet Explorer on Windows," Steve Pattison answers in email. "This is because I'm vision impaired and these are the only two browsers that have very good support for accessibility which is essential for me. Chrome has only very basic accessibility support at this stage." I asked which of the two browsers had better accessibility options. "Firefox is slightly better than what is provided in Internet Explorer." His main reason is something Microsoft should listen to, as it affects other users, too: Minor updates "released fairly frequently compared to IE that has major updates every couple of years or so. As a result accessibility issues can be fixed more quickly in Firefox. Also Mozilla have a blind person working for them to test accessibility issues which certainly gives them some credibility in this area. See his blog."

Andrew Rossetti writes in comments: "I use both IE8 and Chrome on my primary XP workstation, Chrome for most web use, IE for our SharePoint site and some other browser related applications out of necessity. My Windows 7 machines run IE9 and Chrome, again for the same reasons. I still have Firefox installed everywhere, but rarely use it since it is much slower than Chrome in general."

"Firefox all the way for several years now," Ian Brunton writes in comments. "I rely quite a bit on the extensions, it's reliable, and despite what other people have said on many websites I don't find it slow. I've never tested its start-up with a stopwatch against anything else, but my microseconds aren't really in that short supply that I can notice, let alone care about, a difference in start-up time between Firefox and, say, Chrome."

Amandio Goncalves Pereira's response surprised me: "Chrome 11.0.686.1 beta." I responded by return email: "You're a real adventurer. Do you usually use the newest Chrome beta?" The answer: "Allways. Is very fast and really very good. Never had problems until now. Waiting for Chrome OS."

Kevin Baron: "I try them all often. Internet Explorer 8 is my favorite. There is specific UI and features that make other browsers just a no-go for me. Firefox is a close 2nd. IE is the only browser that I really enjoy. The others lack something somewhere that turns me off. The lack of a favorties sidebar on chrome is a major deal breaker for me."

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