Firefox and other ‘alternatives’ are gaining ground in the battle of the browsers at the expense of Microsoft’s (MS) market-dominating Internet Explorer (IE).

According to a recent survey by Web measurement software firm Net Applications, worldwide use of IE dropped below 70 per cent last month — for the first time since browser popularity has been officially measured.

At the same time, popular alternatives to IE, including Apple’s Safari, Opera and Google’s Chrome browser, all gained market share with Mozilla’s Firefox topping 20 per cent for the first time.

The Net Applications survey also indicated that, while IE is more popular in business environments, Firefox and other browsers tend to be more popular with home users.

Net Applications predicts that Firefox and Safari will continue to gain in popularity through the end of the year.

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