A study by IDC which analyzed the installed base of Web browsers through the end of 1997 shows that Microsoft's Internet Explorer is gaining further on market leader Netscape. According to the study, marketshare for Netscape Navigator fell from 54.6% in 1996 to 50.5%. Microsoft's share rose in the same time period from 16.4% to 22.8%. In third place is America Online's browser, which rose from 13.1% to 16.1%. Since America Online now uses IE as its default browser, most of those users will probably be attributed to Internet Explorer this year.

"Although Netscape only made gains in the small business segment, the company was still able to maintain its number one position in 1997," said Joan-Carol Brigham, an IDC analyst. "However, Microsoft--which increased its market share in all segments--was able to achieve a high rate of new user adoptions and upgrades. This was accomplished by landmark efforts to market version 4.0 of Internet Explorer, which kept recognition high throughout 1997, and by shipping the product toward the end of the year."

Microsoft's biggest gains were in the home and government markets, IDC said. Meanwhile, Netscape owns a commanding 75% of the educational market.

Since the survey was completed, Netscape has changed the way they do business in several dramatic ways: They stopping charging for their browser and began giving away the source code. Netscape has also turned to their Web site as a major source of revenue. IDC's survey of the first half of 1998, will better reflect the current browser market, which includes the impact of a free Netscape (arguably, not many people were paying for it anyway) and the maturation of Internet Explorer 4.0, which has almost universally been reviewed as superior to Netscape's browser.

For more information about the survey, please visit the IDC Web site