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Microsoft: Chrome Didn’t Best Internet Explorer Last Sunday

As you may have seen in our report earlier this week, Google's Chrome browser was judged to have become the most downloaded browser in the world - at least for one day.

That was according to StatCounter, who said that Chrome's popularity at the weekend had meant it actually outstripped Internet Explorer in terms of numbers this past Sunday. Quite a remarkable, if only a one-off, feat.

However, Microsoft isn't going to let this one lie, and has been complaining about StatCounter's bean counting methods, comparing and contrasting them to the other big web metrics firm, Net Applications.

According to Net Applications, in monthly usage statistics, Chrome is actually still to overtake Firefox (whereas StatCounter had Chrome passing Firefox in December of last year).

As Roger Capriotti points out on the Exploring IE blog, the two firms use different evaluation criteria for estimating browser market share, and (naturally enough) Microsoft favours Net Applications where Chrome has a smaller share (and Internet Explorer a larger one).

Capriotti argues that Net Applications is a truer measure because it doesn't count Chrome's pre-rendering, and because it goes off unique visitors, not page hits. Finally, he states that only Net Applications geoweights the data based on real world net populations.

Regarding the final point, Capriotti writes: "This is absolutely critical to us in understanding what IE share is worldwide so we can better serve our customers. StatCounter, on the other hand, does not do geo or country level weighting. They simply report absolute global page views."

"This factors heavily into the disparate numbers from Net Applications and StatCounter, since StatCounter's data is entirely beholden to the coverage of its sites."

That's why Microsoft looks to Net Applications for market share figures, he says, and that's why you should, also.

StatCounter, however, had a response to this. The firm posted a reply to an article on Computerworld, stating that including Chrome's pre-rendering really doesn't make much difference, and its inclusion caused no visible jump in the firm's stats.

The company also dismissed the geo-weighting argument, stating that Chrome taking the lead was visible in individual countries such as the UK - where geo-weighting obviously doesn't apply.

StatCounter wrote: "If we ignore Chrome overtaking IE on the 18 March (which was only a narrow victory and only very brief - but notable all the same), there is an undeniable trend in our stats towards Chrome usage at the weekend at the expense of IE. You can see the troughs and peaks in the UK, for example."

StatCounter also noted that its website sample pool size is 3 million sites against a more narrowly focused 40,000 for Net Applications.

So who's in the right? Both companies are making estimations, and it's impossible to really tell. However, one point is clear, that being the fact that Chrome is on the up-and-up, and Internet Explorer is steadily falling.

That trend looks set to continue for the foreseeable, as Internet Explorer 9 hasn't provided the fight-back Microsoft had hoped it would.