Beware of browser and OS numbers

By Rick Jelliffe
September 16, 2009

A reader complained recently when I called the non-Microsoft browsers the minor browsers in a blog a couple of days ago, and I gave my reasons. It wasn't intended as an insult, but I understand their point: just because they are relatively minor does not mean they are not formidable/better/preferable/holier etc. nor that their absolute numbers are not enormous.

And certainly not that they should be denied a voice: the whole SGML/XML movement was largely driven by small players bucking the WYSIWYG/PC system that dominated, so I get it.

I quoted some numbers to the effect that IE has 2/3 of the share in general.

This week I was looking at logfiles for a large government health site we developed, here in Australia. It has been running for several years and it gets aver 1,000,000 browser page hits per month, from consumer, industry, pharmacist and governments, almost entirely in Australia. So what numbers does its logfiles say currently (September 2009)?

  • IE: 63% (8 = 10.5%, 7 = 18.3%, 6 = 34.6%)
  • Unknown: 25%
  • Firefox: 7% (3.5 = 1.7%)
  • Safari: 2.1%
  • Others: <= 0.1% each

I'm looking into what the unknowns are. I suspect it is a particular robot company which does not mark its hits as robot requests. That IE 6 is still used is a big maintenance burden on us.

As for OS:

  • Windows: 71.1%

  • unknown: 26.7%

  • Mac: 2%

  • Linux: < 0.1%

If the unknowns are all fakes from a robot, it would mean Windows has 97% of the OS market, and that IE has 84% of the browser market, for these kind of commercial users. How could this possibly be a healthy situation?

I guess it is a bind for the FOSS players: if they talk up the market domination they look irrelevant but if they talk it down they lose some of their compelling sales points (such as avoidance of monocultures) and the urgency which regulators may view the situation.

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