Google's Chrome browser in August came within sight of the 30% user share milestone, a Web analytics company said Tuesday.
No other browser has threatened the dominance of Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) to that extent since the Redmond, Wash. company quashed Netscape earlier this century.
Chrome averaged a user share of 29.5% in August, according to Net Applications, which estimates the percentage of all users who run a specific browser each month. Chrome gained 1.7 percentage points last month, its biggest boost since December 2014.
In the last year, Chrome's user share has grown by 9.9 percentage points, its largest 12-month increase ever. The only other browser of the top five to also gain share during the past dozen months was Opera Software's namesake.
Chrome's increases came primarily at the expense of IE and Mozilla's Firefox, which have declined 6.3 and 3.6 points, respectively, in the last 12 months.
Perhaps not coincidentally, a year ago Microsoft announced that it would stop supporting most versions of Internet Explorer other than IE11 this coming January -- in effect, forcing the majority of IE's users to switch browsers. Net Applications' data seemed to show a causal link between that requirement and Chrome's user share surge: If users had to switch from, say, IE 8 to IE11, they may have been much more likely to change to a non-IE browser like Chrome than if Microsoft had not made that mandate.
If that's true, Microsoft's decision to force IE users to upgrade erased gains the browser made since January 2012, when it began climbing out of a long slump.
An uninterrupted march of Chrome at its current 12-month tempo would push Google's browser above the 30% mark by the end of September, and over the 35% bar by March 2016. Internet Explorer meanwhile, is on pace to drop under 50% by January.
Other browsers fared poorly last month, too.
After holding steady at 12% in June and July, Firefox again dipped below that mark, averaging 11.7% in August. And while Microsoft's new Edge browser gained significant ground last month, reaching a 2% user share, contrasting it with Windows 10's more robust rise to 5.2% meant that just 38% of all Windows 10 users relied on Edge as their primary browser.
Net Applications measures global browser user share by tallying unique visitors to its websites that run its analytics package.