Netscape Communications is the overwhelming leader of the market for client browsers that view the World Wide Web -- it owns an 84% share -- market researcher Dataquest says.
Microsoft's Explorer browser family is a distant second with 7% of the market, according to Dataquest's Browser Scorecard, a report released at the Internet World show here last week. The browser market share figures are based on actual use, says Dataquest.
While Netscape holds an enviable position, Microsoft is inching ahead. In recent days Netscape posted its Navigator 3.0 beta for free evaluation.
Not to be outdone, Microsoft last week released free beta versions of Internet Explorer 2.0 for Windows 3.1, and early betas of its Internet Explorer 3.0.
The two software vendors are locked in a fast-paced battle to offer the best client products for cruising the graphical portions of the Internet and for accessing corporate intranet data. The battle is so pitched that a nearly constant barrage of beta browser versions are available on a host of platforms for free use and evaluation from the companies' own Web sites at any given time.
Nonetheless, a large number of users seem to be sticking with Netscape's Navigator 2.0 product, which became available in early February and sells for about US$49.
"More than 40% of the Netscape Navigator use is Version 2.0, and in fact the biggest shift in browser use has been among Netscape users upgrading from Version 1.1," says Kathryn Hale, principal analyst of Dataquest's online strategies worldwide programme.
Netscape and Microsoft are becoming the only two browser developers of note, says Dataquest.
America Online held onto the No. 3 position with 3% of the market, and NCSA Mosaic is in the fourth position with 1%. Web Crawler traffic accounts for 2% of the market.
Dataquest can be reached at http://www.dataquest.com.