Microsoft is quite fond of tooting its own horn when it comes to the performance of Internet Explorer 9 on Windows 7, and the decline (at last) of Internet Explorer 6. However, it has a favorite place to get the data that it promotes: Net Applications.
Now, we like Net Applications just fine here at TNW, and we also enjoy StatCounter. Both services provide a ‘global stats’ picture of the world, tracking browser market share across the planet. It’s good stuff as the data they provide let’s us track platform shifts and consumer mindshare.
However, Microsoft recently came out and endorsed Net Applications over StatCounter, saying that as it tracks Internet Explorer 9′s performance, it will lean on Net over Stat. From a long, and technical blog post on the issue we will boil their argument down for you: roughly, Chrome prerenders pages for you, this speeds up performance, but often the user doesn’t see these pages, and therefore, Chrome might be counted more than once when it shouldn’t. Obviously, this could give Chrome a boon and whack the IE brand, which is bleeding market share to Google’s browser.
So, Microsoft doesn’t like this. Net Applications now deals with prerendering, making it more ‘fair’ in the eyes of Microsoft. So much so, that to defend its IE9 honor, they blagged about it. Yeah.
Here’s the rub, however: StatCounter isn’t exactly happy with all this. Our good compatriots over at NeoWin had the foresight to reach out to StatCounter, which it turns out had quite a bit to say. We quote the quotes from their post:
No stats service (even our own) is perfect and it’s up to users to decide which service suits their needs. That’s why we try to make our service as transparent as we can and to that end it would be helpful if people provided a balanced comparison between the various services. Unfortunately, in this case the Microsoft article appears to be somewhat one-sided.
From our perspective we are, of course, aware of pre-rendering but we haven’t felt that it’s something we need to adjust for at the moment. If you look at the trajectory of Chrome in our stats, pre-rendering introduced in June 2011 (per Roger’s article) did not have any significant impact on our stats at all. There is no bump or sudden jump in Chrome.
Essentially, StatCounter is calling foul over the impact that prerendering may have, and that it heavily skews their data. It’s hard to tell who is right in this case, unless we might manage to extract, from the larger pool of Chrome visits, only the prerendered hits, and make them their own metric. How possible that is I’m not exactly sure.
However, in all of this, Microsoft has picked the horse that tells it that is more beautiful, and there isn’t a thing wrong with that. If you want to dig into both StatCounter and Net Application’s browser market share data, just hit the links.