I thought I’d check my sites’ stats to see how quickly people are upgrading to Firefox 1.5. I’ve got a script I wrote a while back that totals hits by Firefox 0.x, 1.0.x, and now 1.5.x and shows the percentage of the latest version out of all Firefox hits.

I tried it on this month’s logs from the Alternative Browser Alliance first, since it’s a much smaller log file, and saw that Firefox 1.5 accounts for anywhere from 43% to 69% of Firefox users visiting the site on a given day. Then I checked it against Hyperborea, which gets a more mainstream audience, and found that only 15-24% of its Firefox hits were from users who have upgraded.

Sticking with the more mainstream site, I looked at some other statistics. While Firefox as a whole is doing quite well at 18.9% (plus another 1.4% for Netscape and 1.2% for Mozilla), there’s a shockingly large number of people still using Internet Explorer 5 for Windows. MSIE 5.0 and MSIE 5.5 are eachpulling 1%. That doesn’t sound like much, but there are more people on outdated versions of IE than any version of Netscape, and each IE version is pulling in more than all versions of Opera combined (0.9%).

This, frankly, sucks. MSIE 6 is a free upgrade that will run on any system that can run ether 5.0 or 5.5, and is a significant improvement over either. IE6, Firefox, or Opera will all run on even obsolete versions of Windows—and there are more ofthose than you might think as well! (I’m seeing 4.8% of traffic coming from Windows 98—more even than Windows Me.)

Internet Explorer 6.0 came out in October 2001, so people have had four years to upgrade, and 2.7% of IE users still haven’t upgraded. Maybe they can’t, because IT has locked their systems down. Maybe they don’t know there’s both a newer version and a wealth of alternatives. Maybe they don’t think it’s worth changing. Even IE5/Mac has its adherents after Microsoft abandoned it in favor of Apple’s own Safari. And while some might disagree, we’re stuck developing for it.

Firefox should have a faster upgrade curve than IE, if Dave Shea’s pre-installed/downloadable split holds true and people who make the effort to add a browser still make more effort to upgrade it. (It seems to be holding for Opera, at least, since the majority of Opera users are already on 8.5 after only a few months.) But I still see hits from Firefox 0.8 and 0.9, and I’ve seen a lot of people with that red update icon in the toolbar.  I have to wonder if the mainstream acceptance of Firefox may have altered the patterns that held during the IE6 era.

I’m hoping uptake of Firefox 1.5 will go faster. Aside from getting people onto auto-updates, it brings new design possibilities with SVG, canvas, etc. But I know there are a lot of fire-and-forget admins out there, and a lot of everyday users who just installed it once and don’t see why they need to upgrade. It’ll be interesting to see how SFX’s new dual mission will go.

Originally posted on my Spread Firefox blog.

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