• 200627 Dec

    Last month I did an audit on some websites I manage to see what kind of take-up IE7 had; the figure varied between 1% and 12% of total visitors. Now that Microsoft have placed the new browser into the automatic download programme, I decided to go back and revisit the stats again.

    Of 10 sites I own or manage, the figure now varies between 8% and 34% of total visitors – a huge increase over last month’s figures. In many cases it is the second most popular browser (after IE6) and accounts for more visitors than those using all versions of Firefox combined.

    Of course these statistics are not definitive, but as a straw poll they show that there’s been a marked increase in users.

    One thing that struck me looking through all my stats was the tiny number of people using Opera – in many cases, none at all. Opera is a very good browser – fast, lightweight and standards-compliant; so why aren’t more people using it? I know in my case I rely on the Addons for Firefox; and I know from experience that most Mac users prefer Safari. But what’s stopping everyone else from using it?

    Is it because it was paid-for or ad-supported for so long that people have got used to alternatives? Is it because it isn’t marketed well? I’d be interested to hear readers views on their reasons if they don’t use Opera.

    You can skip to the end and leave a response.

  • Comments

    • 01.

      For this site, it’s 7%, with IE6 at 9%…

    • 02.

      Some stats for December from a website of a fairly large pc manufacturer (1mln visits) in Europe:

      61.2% IE6
      22.7% IE7
      7.8% FF2
      6.5% FF1/NS6+
      0.8% Opera
      0.6% IE5/IE5.5
      0.3% Safari / Konqueror

    • 03.

      As a web developer, Opera 9 generally gives me few headaches. By far the most annoying to work with is unsurprisingly IE (even 7). Safari easily takes second place.

      The interesting thing is that both of these browsers that give the most trouble are developed by two large parent companies as the default browsers for their operating system.

      This is probably not the reason they are riddled with bugs. The reason is because they do not have a frequent release schedule. (And *this* maybe related to the previous fact).

      It’s too bad, because Safari *is* a neat browser, but I generally try to push for not supporting it.

      Especially since I often need to integrate some flash into the design, and Safari has an excellent feature where Flash will not display properly with “wmode=opaque” (or transparent). With slightly older versions of flash you get flashing of overlaid DHTML elements, and with the latest version of flash it simply draws DHTML elements underneath (until the flash redraws) — simply bizarre.

      This flash issue, of course, is not directly related to Safari’s general rendering abilities, but these too are also bug-laden.

      Oh woe be it unto the web developer, for he shall inherit all yon browsers and their bugs.

    • 04.

      I recently added Opera to my list of browser favs. I’ve shifted over from Safari to Firefox since v2 was released because of the stellar collection of webdesigner tools that are available for it.
      However, I’ve taken to using Opera for general browsing and surfing about because it is so incredibly quick and easy to use. I also like the Mac feel to the design: Firefox, in spite of its excellent plugins, is ugly.

      I simply hadn’t got around to Opera before because it didn’t come across my desktop enough. I was aware of it but wasn’t bothered to try it.

      Now I am glad that I did.

    • 05.

      I have Opera on my PC, but I don’t use it because it’s interface isn’t intuitive and pleasant. And I have broadband connection so speed isn’t an issue in any of my browsers.

      I use Firefox because his huge collection of addons and efficiently beautyful interface.

    • 06.

      In Russia ~10% of surfers use Opera…
      This is fast, easy to use, security browser with very good usability, perfect support of web standarts…
      It’s crossplatform — Win, Linux, Mac, mobile phones (on java) and Videogame consoles (Nintendo Wii, DS)
      It’s my favourite browser! I love it!

      It’s interesting: on 7 and 8 versions (may be 6 too) browser identified on sites as IE (but adds ‘Opera’ to end of string) by default… On 9 it’s identifies as Opera by default.

    • 07.

      Anonymous: i’d urge you to reconsider on Safari, but perhaps only support WebKit, it’s nightly. If you support that, you might end up being all good in 10.5 :)

    • 08.

      A big reason for this is that Opera is set to “Identify as MSIE 6.0” by default (in all the Operas up to version 8 at least) and a lot of people never change that option …
      I think that is why Opera’s browser share is underreported.

    • 09.

      When doing stats, on a site dedicated to web design, your stats are ALWAYS going to be skewed.

      I normally use Firefox all the time, but I will visit several sites, in IE7, IE6, Opera and Konq when testing… or to verify bugs/features. (e.g. something looks really cool on a site… now, how about in IE… does it still look cool? or does it fall flat on its face like always)

      “me” is correct above also, Opera’s ID is MSIE 6.0 for compat reasons… although smart developers have “sniffed” for it via the .opera property, to feed it more advanced JS and CSS than IE6 can handle.


    • 10.

      The stats I used in the article are from 10 different websites, from a personal blog to a large European business, although they’re all UK-based. They’re not in any way meant to be definitive, but merely reflect a snapshot of an overall general trend.

    • 11.

      53% Firefox
      13.8% Firefox
      10.8% IE 6 with Service Pack 2
      6% Firefox 2.0
      4% IE7
      3.4% IE6 (all versions except XP/SP2)
      0.7% Firefox

      Except for the constant updates to Firefox (between each month) the share of IE at my site has been relatively low. But considering the poor quality of the Trident rendering engine and dedicated visitors I’ve been able to get people to switch.

    • 12.
    • 13.
    • 14.

      i have recently written a website from scratch and it validates as correct CSS (no warnings or errors) and valid XHTML 1.0 Strict (no warnings or errors). obviously these results vary while i am editing the website, but at the end of each edit i make sure it is valid for both, and fix it up if it’s not.

      according to my calculations of the physical aspects (css positioning and dimensions) of All of the elements on my page when put together, IE7 and IE6 are the only browsers that display them the way they are written.

      today i downloaded the most recent versions of Opera, Netscape and FireFox and all of them have the same issues displaying the contents where they are supposed to be physically displayed (remember that my codes all validate).

      i’ve not tested it on safari yet.

      and these are not dimensions that could be affected by all of the browsers defult padding settings (eg, table padding) and the difference in the font sizes are not an issue. IE is simply the only browser that displays it the way it’s actually written.

      so if anyone has had any issues on where elements display on webpages and they use one of those browsers, it doesn’t display correctly in IE because you have made adjustments to your website for the other browsers

      so IE is the only one the cuts it with me.

      but i still enjoy using opera! it is by far the best looking… most customizable and fastest browser there is!

    • 15.

      this is the website!


      however i only very recently registered the .au domain so dns settings may not have ‘propagated’ yet.

      if not,


    • 16.

      Hi Jacob,

      Good work on getting it to validate! However, just because it validates doesn’t necessarily mean it’s ‘right’; IE (especially 6) has issues with margin widths (and more), so by fixing it to display correctly in IE6 means it will still validate, but doesn’t work properly across more standards-compliant browsers.

      In my opinion, you should get the site displaying properly in Firefox and Safari first, IE later.

    • 17.


      I understand exactly what you’re saying, but how do i know which browser is right?

      I mean, I can trust that maybe FireFox is technically correct, but how can i be absolutely Sure of which one is correct. I realised that the ‘browsers in conflict’ in this situation had problems with padding, and that is most unfortunante, because i don’t know the javascript code for tiny snippets of my external css file, the bits which make all the difference in the defult padding sizes in various browsers.

      maybe someone could write a javascript code that “nueturalized” all padding and other values in browsers to 0, so that no one had to worry about writing their website for everyone elses browers. do know anyone who could do this? :P

      however, if no one can do that than i suppose i’ll have to write css for each individual browser :S ….

      if anyone had any advice for me on any of these topics… please tell me!


    • 18.

      You could try reading a book like this one for good tips:


      You can ‘turn off’ padding and margins on most elements by putting a line like this at the beginning of your style sheet:

      body, div, p, ul {
      margin: 0;
      padding: 0;

      That will get rid of most of the serious problems. Some people like to put ‘body *’ to turn off margin and padding for all elements, but I think that’s overkill.

    • 19.

      if i did the “body *” thing… i could still turn padding and margins back on for any element within their individual styles couldn’t i.

      i had just been looking at the article for that book when i got your comment… it looks good

      but if i can just turn of settings in all browsers at once and then rewrite them for each individual element i needed them… that would be fantastic.

      but the only thing is that will require going through and putting margins and paddings in for every single element that had them in the version of the page i see best… that might be a bit of a task. hmmm

      thanx for your help =]

    • 20.

      That’s why I prefer to turn off only margin and padding on the main offenders, rather than every single page element!

    • 21.

      oh yeah. i get it. lol sorry

      i will try doing this and see if i can get all the margins back to were they are for the elements concerned

    • 22.

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for the kind words about Opera. It is a mystery why many of your sites are showing no Opera users. In general we are seeing Opera take up increase since we went free and Opera 9 came out. There is a list of sites that we ‘mask’ as another browser, and it may be possible some of your sites are on this list. These are sites that we get sent broken code for, so identify ourselves as another browser and completely remove ‘opera’ from the UA string. It may also be that there have been issues in Opera on the pages in the past, so users haven’t came back.

      Of course, if there are any issues with Opera on your sites, I’ll gladly look into them.

    • 23.

      Hi David, nice to see you drop by here :) is this list of sites you “mask” for public?

    • 24.

      […] I’ve said before that I think Opera is a great browser, and I’ve started using it more for my day-to-day browsing. They have a web developer toolbar, which is one of my biggest demands, but Firefox still edges it for me as the range of extensions makes all the difference. If you haven’t tried it already, you should think about giving it a go. […]

    • 25.

      […] I’ve said before that I think Opera is a great browser, and I’ve started using it more for my day-to-day browsing. They have a web developer toolbar, which is one of my biggest demands, but Firefox still edges it for me as the range of extensions makes all the difference. But if you haven’t tried Opera already, you should think about giving it a go. […]

    • 26.

      Why is Opera not used so much

      1. It sucks on Mac. My favourite browser by far on Windows (Firefox did not existed when I was on Windows) but not a chance on Mac (this would be OmniWeb). Opera 9 is a tad better, but still inferior
      2. Opera is targeted at powerusers. The vast majority of Web users are not powerusers.
      3. Opera does not have the communication/openness of Firefox or the automatic download/preinstall that IE enjoys.
      4. In 1998, Opera gave up trying to compete with IE. They know their money is on embedded stuff. “Desktop” is but a loss leader for “mobile”.

      For now, when I want to print a complex layout (dl.run-in dt {display:run-in}, dl.run-in.colon dt:after {content:”: “}. That is “name: definition”), I use Opera, because it is the only to render it correctly. Opera as a longstanding tradition of great standard support (sometimes, like here, better than Firefox — including latest nightly). Still, how many people needs it? A lot, for sure, but not “enough of a lot” ;-)


      Jacob Seabrook: some years ago, Jukka “Yucca” Korpela wrote an article about the different rendering in different engines. I can’t remember the page, but I do remember Opera was using the right values until 3.xx, after, it did the same as all the other browser: using its own values. So, for a while, Opera was the reference. Then the market forced it to change, I guess.


      Six months ago, I wrote a debunking about Opera being underreported. Sadly, it is in French.


      (Google-translated version: http://tinyurl.com/2gaz2x)

      To make it short: no, Opera is not underepresented

      0. Opera? What’s that
      1. Opera? 2% of marketshare
      2. Opera is much more, but they indentify themselves as Internet Explorer for compatibility. That’s why they are underepresented
      3. Opera substring does show the right information. And serious surveys look at this substring. No underepresentation there.
      4. Opera [is] underepresented, but for another reason: a powerful cache (this is Opera’s explanation http://www.opera.com/company/chat/party/ceo/)
      5. Serious surveys count only one visit by IP and day, therefore preloading is not taken into account (or so little).
      6. Say one searches on Google. All the sites are audited but only one is visited. Opera: one access, Firefox: 10 accesses. Underrepresentation (well, exactly, this is Firefox’s overepresentation)
      7. Level 7 anyone?

    • 27.

      Thanks for a very comprehensive reply, David. Just one point: I don’t think Opera identifies itself as IE anymore, does it? I think it identifies as Opera first, but can identify as IE on a site-by-site basis. You seem to have done more research into it, so I’m prepared to be corrected.

    • 28.

      I don’t know, since I configured my Opera to identifies as such once and for all a long time ago. If that is the cases (default is now “Opera”), the main interest of my reply would be in historical evolution of Opera adoption. You are right about site-per-site identification.

      Does someone has reliable source regarding 10% in Russia?

      For something like 6 months, I’m noticing a growing interest for Opera. No doubt its gratis distribution is a major cause for this, but I don’t think this is the only one; rise of alternative browsing sis help too. Considered that way, Firefox is very good for Opera (Microsoft also, since it shipped IE7 five years after IE6).

      Since you are talking about per-site preference, I have to tell you about OmniWeb (Mac-only): this is what Opera should have been on Mac (interface/feature-wise; engine is WebCore): first pop-up blocker, first thumbnail preview, first browser with per-site preferences, with a ton of useful features (like remembering window size, so you can safely resize for just one site, workspaces – think upgraded sessions)… And like was originally Opera, it is shareware – 30 separate (!) days for evaluation. And you can still extend the period by downloading the previews. For now, it is using nightly builds of WebCore/WebKit as standard so, compared to vanilla Safari (2.0.4), its standard support is much better.

    • 29.

      > “is this list of sites you “mask” for public?”

      Yes, in the profile folder of any Opera installation inspect the file “override_downloaded.ini” to see the downloaded site spoofs. Similarly, in the same folder there resides a file “browser.js” which contains Opera-supplied javascript fixes for many sites.

    • 30.

      Is it because it was paid-for or ad-supported for so long that people have got used to alternatives?

      And where do you think FireFox’s funds comes from ? Why do you think Google is the default search engine in FireFox ? Why do you think there are tractations between FireFox and Google ?

      FireFox is not less commercial than Opera is. The main difference, is that the FireFix community pretends that FireFox is not commercial (while it is, peoples are paid for the developpement of FireFox), while the Opera team does not lie about it…. a it seems peoples like lies.

    • 31.


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