Microsoft's Edge now more popular than Firefox for the first time

Major changes, and a pivot to businesses, sees the Chromium-powered web browser leapfrog its rival

Fundamental changes to the Edge platform have seen Microsoft’s flagship browser swell in popularity to the extent it’s overtaken Mozilla’s Firefox as the second most widely-used browser.

Microsoft Edge crept up from a market share of 7.38% in February to 7.59% during March 2020, versus a slightly reduced 7.19% share for Firefox against 7.57% the previous month, according to NetMarketShare.

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A steady rise in popularity for Microsoft Edge against the steady fall of Firefox’s market share over the last couple of years has seen a crossover moment occur for the first time.

The milestone follows a period of change for Edge, that comes pre-packaged with its Windows operating systems. Among these changes are a reangling towards business users, and an overhaul of its codebase to the extent it’s now based on the open source Chromium browser.

Another feature, known as Collections, allows workers in procurement to drag and drop items from search results into a list that can be shared with others, complete with image and metadata for all items.

The Chromium-powered Edge has also seen a brand redesign to distinguish itself from the previous iteration of Edge, which has languished for years, as well as Internet Explorer, which has sustained an organic month-by-month decline.

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Although Chrome enjoys a near-monopolistic market share of desktop browsers, often hitting between 60% and 70% in market share over the last few years, the tussle for second has been closely fought between Firefox, Edge and Internet Explorer.

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Firefox has, itself, undergone a series of key changes focused almost exclusively on protecting user privacy. The most recent step forward in its development, which typifies this trend, involves the launch of a paid-for virtual private network (VPN) that encrypts users’ connections across apps and devices.

Unfortunately for Mozilla, these efforts haven’t paid off in the way the developer may have hoped, given its market share has continued to fall over time, from 9.27% in March 2019, for example, to just above 7% last month. Comparatively, Edge held just 5.2% market share the same time last year.

The rise of Microsoft Edge has also coincided with the fall of Internet Explorer, which held a market share above 12% during 2018. This is largely due to the fact many businesses still rely on the web browser to run business-critical applications.

The fact the new Edge is powered by Chromium is also sure to attract a swathe of users simply curious as to how it compares against previous iterations, and whether this cleaner codebase leads to smarter functionality.

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