Browser survey puts Chrome in first place -- for just one day

StatCounter reports that Chrome overtook Internet Explorer on Sunday, although Chrome's use of prerendering may have biased the results

Google's Chrome browser overtook Microsoft's Internet Explorer, all versions combined, to become the number one browser for a single day last weekend, according to figures from website analytics company StatCounter.

Chrome was the most-used browser in Brazil, India, and Russia on Sunday, enough to put it top of StatCounter's worldwide browser ranking too, although it remained in second or third place in China, Germany and the U.S.

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But by Monday, when many Internet users returned to work, it had slipped back behind Internet Explorer again.

Chrome usage typically rises on weekends and falls on working days, but this is the first time the browser has made it to first place, StatCounter said.

Version 15 of Chrome became the single-most-used browser version in the last week of November, with 23.6 percent of the market, narrowly ahead of version 8 of Internet Explorer, according to StatCounter. It had been regularly beating IE8 on weekends since October, the company said.

Chrome has an advantage in version-by-version comparisons such as this, as its autoupdate feature concentrates its market share in the latest version. Microsoft's share is split more evenly between different versions of Internet Explorer as not all its users are willing or able to upgrade to the latest version. IE6 still lingers in many enterprises where in-house applications will not run on newer versions of the browser, while the latest version, IE9, will not run on Windows XP: users of that operating system are still stuck with IE8.

StatCounter bases its rankings on data about visits to 3 million websites, totalling around 15 billion page views per month.

One factor that may boost Chrome's position in StatCounter's all-versions rankings is the browser's "prerendering" of pages: Versions of the browser released since June last year have attempted to predict which link a user will click on next and download it in advance. However, the downloaded page is only displayed if the user does click on the link.

StatCounter makes no allowance for Chrome's prerendering in its results, although other Web analytics firms do. According to Net Applications, the additional prerendering features in version 17 of the browser inflate Chrome's share by 4.14 percentage points.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

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