Chrome lures significant new browser usage

November was a good month for Google’s browser ambitions as Chrome won over a sizable new fraction of Web usage.

Chrome usage rose from 8.5 percent of worldwide Web usage in October to 9.3 percent in November, according to statistics released today by Net Applications, whose analytics software monitors Web traffic extensively.

Chrome claimed most of that share from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, which dropped in overall usage from 59.2 percent to 58.3 percent. Chrome’s gains means Google has an easier time pursuing its agenda–adding new features for Web programmers, modifying Net communication protocols to make them faster, and generally trying to make the Internet a place where people spend more of their lives.

Third-place Firefox was essentially flat yet again at 22.8 percent, while Safari crept upward from 5.4 percent to 5.6 percent and Opera slipped from 2.3 percent to 2.2 percent.

Microsoft, though has plenty of silver lining: its ancient Internet Explorer 6 is gradually fading from use, and the newer IE8 grew in usage from October to November nearly as much as Chrome overall did. (IE9, a more radical upgrade, remains in beta testing.)

“One of our main missions here on the IE team at Microsoft is to get people off of IE6 and onto a later version of IE as fast as humanly possible,” Roger Capriotti, director of Internet Explorer product marketing, said in the blog post. “In the last six months, IE6 usage is now declining faster among enterprises than it is among worldwide consumers. We believe this reflects how organizations are recognizing the need to migrate to a modern browser.”

Corporations’ software changes can be gated by conservative administrators, upgrade expenses, and dependence on a particular browser. Thus their lingering usage of IE6 has been a particular challenge for Microsoft and developers eager not to spend long hours trying to craft modern Web sites for the old browser.

Net Applications said China remains a major holdout for IE6, where 45.2 percent of people use it. That compares with 14.6 percent worldwide.