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Last Updated: Monday, 12 July, 2004, 13:39 GMT 14:39 UK
Rivals nibble at Microsoft's IE
Bill Gates
Internet Explorer is most popular web browser in the world
Security flaws in Microsoft's web browser are prompting internet users to try alternatives, research suggests.

The number of people using Internet Explorer (IE) has dropped by one percent in the past four weeks, according to US analysts WebSideStory.

With nine out of 10 people still using IE, the fall scarcely dents Microsoft's dominance of the browser market.

But it suggests that net users are following the advice of security experts to try out other web browsers.

Alternative choices

Microsoft's browser is a favourite target for hacking due to its widespread use. The software giant regularly issues fixes to close security loopholes in it.

Last month, net users were told to avoid using Internet Explorer because of a loophole which could allow malicious hackers to take control of a computer.

We do not feel that switching to an alternative browser and giving up the functionality and compatibility of IE is warranted
Microsoft spokesperson
The US net watchdog, the Computer Emergency Reponse Center (Cert), and the internet security monitor, the Internet Storm Center, both issued warnings about the flaw in IE.

The warnings appear to have been heeded, with statistics from WebSideStory suggesting that millions of people are switching to alternative browsers.

It said that IE market share fell by one percentage point to just over 94% between June and July.

By contrast, the share of alternatives, like the open source Mozilla browser Firefox, rose substantially.

WebSideStory said the combined Mozilla and Netscape market share rose from 3.21% in June to 4.05% in July.

According to the Mozilla Foundation, downloads of its Firefox browser have hit 200,000 per day.

But even it is not immune from security holes. Last week, Mozilla released a security update to close a vulnerability in its browser.

Stay safe

Microsoft has reacted to the fall in market share by insisting that there is no reason for users to switch to other browsers.

"Microsoft is aggressively working to provide a comprehensive fix for all supported versions of IE," a company spokesperson told BBC News Online.

"In the meantime, we have provided customers with prescriptive guidance to help mitigate these issues at http://www.microsoft.com/security/incident/settings.mspx and do not feel that switching to an alternative browser and giving up the functionality and compatibility of IE is warranted."

The software giant still dominates the way people use the web, controlling more than 94% of the browser market, according to WebSideStory.

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