Firefox overtakes Internet Explorer in Germany

December 2, 2009

Firefox overtakes Internet Explorer in GermanyFirefox is now being used by more people in Germany than Internet Explorer. It’s thought to be the first major market where Microsoft’s browser has been knocked off the top spot.

A survey by German firm Fittkau and Mauss shows 45.6 percent of users are running Firefox while 44.4 percent are on Internet Explorer. Though other studies in the country have listed a particular edition of Firefox as the most popular individual browser, this is the first time Firefox has taken the lead when multiple editions of each browser are combined.

Germany has long been one of the most popular markets for Firefox. Since early 2003, the browser’s rising market share has been mirrored almost precisely by a decline for Internet Explorer.

One reason for this may be a report by the University of Gelsenkirchen’s Institute for Internet Security which said that Internet Explorer was so unsecure that users should avoid it altogether. It may also be a knock-on effect of Netscape – Microsoft’s original main browser rival – being particularly popular in Germany back in the day.

It’s notable that Firefox’s ascendancy to the number one spot comes before the recently-agreed ballot screen takes effect in Windows 7. Negotiated after European Union investigations into the way Internet Explorer is bundled with Windows, the system will offer users a choice of browsers when first setting up the system.

It will be interesting to see what if any effect this has on hacker activity in the country. Defenders of Microsoft’s security record have previously argued that viruses could be targeted at Internet Explorer as much because it offers the largest pool of potential victims as because of inherent flaws in the browser itself. That explanation has now – albeit on a very small and symbolic scale – lost a little of its credibility in Germany at least.

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