This past November, Microsoft’s web browser, Internet Explorer (IE), saw its market share fall below 70 percent for the first time, according to data from Market Share. And the numbers look worse for the limited data from December so far, with IE now accounting for 68.15 percent of web browsers, The Dallas Morning News points out.

Now, that’s still a huge share — over three times larger than the second most popular web browser, Mozilla’s Firefox, which has 21.34 percent — but there’s an undeniable trend that IE is losing ground, and pretty quickly. In early 2007, the browser had an 80 percent market share. By early 2008 it was down to 75 percent, but by the time the early 2009 numbers come it could well be near 65 percent, since the rate of loss is clearly increasing.

Meanwhile, Firefox’s share is at its highest levels ever, Apple’s Safari browser is also at its highest level ever (just about eight percent in December 2008), and guess who else is rising fast? Google’s Chrome browser. The early numbers for December have it on pace to surpass a one percent share for the first time — and that’s with no Mac support, something which will change in 2009.

All of these players are not-so-slowly whittling away at Internet Explorer’s lead — and for good reason, it’s simply not a very good browser, and it hasn’t been for a long time. Back in 2004, IE controlled well over 90 percent of the market. Those days are long gone.