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Google’s Chrome has surpassed Microsoft’s Internet Explorer as the world’s most widely used browser, according to the latest numbers from StatCounter. The trend shows a steady decline for IE over the past year overall, and a strong increase for Chrome, with more than 32 percent market share.

However, separate stats from NetApplications for the desktop browser market show Internet Explorer still in the lead by a wide margin, and actually gaining in recent months, from less than 52 percent in December to more than 54 percent as of the end of April.

Microsoft has disputed the StatCounter numbers in the past. Since then, the research firm says it has addressed one of Microsoft’s biggest complaints and stopped counting “prerendered” pages — pages that are preloaded by the browser for purposes of speed but aren’t actually viewed by browser users.

However, StatCounter has declined to give geographic weighting to its numbers based on population. Microsoft contended in the past that the lack of weighting distorted the StatCounter numbers.

Whatever significance you give to the different numbers, it’s clear that the browser market is as competitive as ever. Microsoft continues to focus on boosting Internet Explorer 9’s market share on Windows 7, but the world is bigger than that, and it will be especially interesting to see where these numbers are in another year or so.

Via Business Insider and the Next Web.

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