Firefox was the most-used browser in Europe in December, edging out Microsoft's Internet Explorer for the first time, according to new data released by the web analytics service StatCounter on Tuesday.
The open source web browser held a 38.11 percent market share in Europe, while IE had a 37.52 percent share, according to StatCounter. The company compiles its statistics from its tracking code, which it says is used on more than 3 million websites worldwide that receive about 15 billion hits monthly.
Firefox may have secured the top position due to the strong gains made by Google's Chrome browser in Europe, according to StatCounter. Chrome had a 14.58 percent market share in December, up from 5.06 percent for the same month a year earlier.
Another contributing factor to IE's decline may have been the European Commission's antitrust settlement with Microsoft, which resulted in consumers being given a clearer choice when selecting a default web browser, StatCounter said.
Microsoft and the Commission reached an agreement in October 2009 that dictated that Windows users be presented with a ballot screen in which they can change from Internet Explorer to one of 11 other browsers. Microsoft is required to continue to present the ballot screen for about four more years.
However, IE is still on top in North America, where it holds a 48.92 percent share. In that region, Firefox had a 26.7 percent share, with Chrome at 12.82 percent followed by Safari at 10.16 percent, StatCounter said.