Microsoft Corp.’s share of the browser market has continued to slide, according to a new study, indicating a continued momentum for users switching to Internet Explorer alternatives.

Between the beginning of December and mid-January, Explorer’s market share dropped 1.5 per cent to 90.3 per cent, while the Mozilla Project’s Firefox browser rose 0.9 per cent to a total of 5.0 per cent, according to market researcher WebSideStory Inc. Researchers have shown Explorer’s market share falling since June, when WebSideStory had its market share at 95.5 per cent.

Other browsers, including Opera and Apple Computer Inc.’s Mac-only Safari, also gained just under 1.0 per cent to 2.1 per cent, WebSideStory said.

Figures from OneStat released late last year reflect the same trend, although with different figures. OneStat found that Explorer held roughly 95 per cent of the market in May of last year, down to 88.9 per cent at the end of November, while Firefox and other Mozilla browsers rose 5.0 per cent over the same period to hit a total of 7.4 per cent. Both companies track Web user activity from more than 100 countries.

Users and developers have long taken issue with Explorer over frequent security problems and the lack of features that have become standard in the competition, but only in the last six months have users begun to ditch Microsoft’s browser in significant numbers.

Firefox still appears to be maintaining the momentum of its highly publicized launch and says users have downloaded more than 19 million copies of the browser. But it could ultimately be stalled at a low figure by factors such as incompatibility with some Web sites.

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