It looks like tech industry pundits are going to have to put away their shovels. After years of falling usage share, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) has rebounded nicely in 2012, not by halting its declines but by reversing them. The trend continued yet again in April, with IE edging up to 54 percent usage share.

IE share has grown a modest 2 percentage points this year. But after several years of steadily declining share, that’s cause for celebration. Most had written off IE and were waiting for first Mozilla Firefox and then Google Chrome to finish it off. That doesn’t seem to be happening: Firefox and Chrome usage was essentially flat in April after months of slow declines.

The data comes from NetApplications, which measures browser usage share each month.

Microsoft for some reason continues to highlight only the newest IE version, IE 9, running on its latest Windows version, Windows 7. And those results, as before, are positive, too: IE 9 on Windows 7 grew 4 percentage points in April to control 35.5 percent of that part of the market, compared with 21 percent for Chrome and 15.3 percent for Firefox.

In the United States, IE 9’s control of Windows 7-based web browsing is far more dominant. There, IE 9 controls 53 percent of browser usage, compared with also-rans Chrome (15 percent) and Firefox (12.5 percent).

Whichever metric you look at, there’s no overlooking the fact that IE is experiencing a small renaissance this year. As I first reported a month ago in Internet Explorer Usage Share Is On the Rise in 2012, IE usage has grown in 2012 while Firefox and Chrome usage has fallen overall. This suggests that the market for web browsers can comfortably handle three major players, which is quite a different situation than a decade ago, when it was IE and then just a few niche browsers.