Mozilla's Firefox has overtaken Microsoft's Internet Explorer to become the most popular browser in Europe, according to web analytics firm StatCounter. This is the first time Microsoft's browser has lost its top spot in a major market.

In December 2010, Firefox grabbed 38.11 percent market share in Europe, while Internet Explorer's share slipped to 37.52 percent. Google Chrome took third place as its share rose to 14.58 percent. The aggregate data collected by StatCounter is from a sample exceeding 15 billion page views per month collected from more than 3 million websites.

"This appears to be happening because Google's Chrome is stealing share from Internet Explorer while Firefox is mainly maintaining its existing share," Aodhan Cullen, StatCounter chief executive, said in a statement. "We are probably seeing the impact of the agreement between European Commission competition authorities and Microsoft, to offer EU users a choice and menu of browsers from March last year."

In December 2009, European Union regulators and Microsoft ended a long antitrust dispute over how Windows lets consumers get rival browsers. In March 2010, Microsoft began offering Europeans the option to choose from among 12 browsers on more than 100 million old and new Windows PCs via a browser ballot. Since then, IE has lost share, and while some say this is due to the browser ballot, we would disagree given that IE has been losing share worldwide, not just in Europe.