Mozilla's share gaining streak in the browser market seems to be losing steam in recent months. According to the latest metrics from Net Applications, Firefox lost about 0.2 of a percentage point in February to end with a slightly lower usage share of 24.2%. It was the third month in a row that it fell in the rankings, along with most other major browsers, even as Mozilla converted a sizable chunk of its user base to the newer Firefox 3.6.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer wound up grabbing 61.58% of the market after suffering a month-over-month loss of 0.54 percent, while Safari was down 0.08 points to 4.45% and Opera dipped 0.03 to a mere 2.35%. Google's Chrome, meanwhile, continued its climb for the sixteenth straight month. Its small 0.4 point gain isn't exactly overwhelming, but looking at the bigger picture its 5.6% share is remarkable given its short life on the market.

That trend looks likely to continue as Microsoft today starts offering a "browser ballot" encouraging IE users to consider the other browsers on the market. If Chrome keeps up the pace of the last three months it is estimated it will break the 10% mark in October, 11 months ahead of a goal it set last year.