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According to Net Applications’ January stats for browser usage, Microsoft’s latest browser, Internet Explorer 8, is now the world’s most popular brand. But there’s a downside: Only one in four of the browsers counted by Net Applications are IE8. For Microsoft, 25 percent market share is practically failure. (Bing has only 10 percent. But hey, that’s against Google.)

To be sure, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer versions added together total 62% of the market. But I remember when it was 91% during Web 1.0. The new Internet Explorer doesn’t seem to be setting the world on fire.

After years of what seemed like an inevitable long march to an all-Explorer Internet, non-Microsoft Web browsers have become competitive again. Firefox, in various versions, makes up another quarter of the market.

Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari are down in the five-percent range, yet they occupy important positions — Safari as the built-in browser on all iPhones, and Chrome as the sole application that users of Google’s Chrome OS will use when products with Chrome OS begin shipping, possibly this year.

Opera and Opera Mini browsers from the Norwegian company have about 3 percent market share combined, according to Net Applications’ data. No other browsers reached one-half of one percent share.

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