Google's Chrome is on track to surpass Mozilla's Firefox as the second most popular browser globally by the end of the year. Microsoft's Internet Explorer holds a solid lead among all other competitors, according to data from free website analytics company StatCounter.

StatCounter's top five browsers in September 2011 show that Internet Explorer holds a 41.7 percent market share while Firefox has 26.8 percent of users and Chrome is just behind at 23.6 percent.

When viewing the same data over the course of the past year, it becomes clear just how rapidly Chrome is closing in on Firefox and how many users are leaving Microsoft's offering. In October 2010, Chrome only had a 12.4 percent share, Firefox was at 31.2 percent and IE was at 49.2 percent. IE lost 7.5 percentage points in just one year while Chrome added 11.2 percent. If these same trends continue, Chrome should top Firefox before the end of the year.

As noted by Computer World, other stats providers often report quite different findings. For example, Net Applications' August 2011 report indicates that IE holds a 55.3 percent share while Firefox sits at 22.6 percent and Chrome is a bit further back at 15.5 percent.

The reason for the discrepancy between reporting sites has to do with how each company gathers and reports data. Net Applications is said to theoretically paint a more accurate picture because they factor in the Chinese market. As such, companies like Microsoft typically tend to quote Net Applications' results when citing market share.