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Out of curiousity, I recently started looking at what software people use to visit my Web site. For the period 1 June through 18 August 2002, I got around 2000 hits that specified a "user agent" field. (This effectively excludes worms, which generally don't bother with full HTTP headers, but doesn't exclude Web robots.) I ran these headers through a script that built a histogram of browser and OS usage frequencies, after throwing away the cryptic details (e.g. browser build and Linux kernel version). I then did some manual consolidation of similar categories, e.g. over similar operating system versions.

For browsers, the basic breakdown is as follows:

Browser Hits Percent
MSIE 1472 71  
Mozilla (Netscape) 527 25  
Konqueror 51  2.5
Opera/6.x 16  0.8
other 9  0.4
Total 2075 100%
The "Mozilla" and "other" categories undoubtedly include some search engines, many of which advertise themselves as "Mozilla-compatible." (So does MSIE, for that matter.)

The versions of Internet Explorer seen included 4.x (27 hits) 5.0..5.2 (331), 5.5 (478), and 6.x (636). So people must not be in any hurry to upgrade their browsers. One can only hope they are not so casual about updating with security patches.

Even more interesting is the mix of operating systems people used, which breaks down as follows:

OS Hits Percent
Linux 406 20%
Mac_PowerPC 43 2.1
SunOS 43 2.1
Windows 1517 76  
Total 2009 100%

Given that my site has "Linux" plastered all over most of it, I find it astonishing that more than three-quarters of you all are running Windows. Perhaps this is the search-engine equivalent of "sorry; wrong number"?

Within the Windows camp, I notice that there are many people who haven't upgraded their OS in some time:

Version Hits Percent
Windows 95 57 3.8%
Windows 98 480 32  
Windows NT/2000 975 64  
Windows XP 5 0.3
Total 1517 100%

The NT figure also includes 108 users of Windows NT 4.0, for which Microsoft dropped support in early 2002. It also includes 636 users of Windows NT 5.0, which may be an alternate moniker for Windows 2000.

I can understand that there are Windows 2000 users who don't want to be bothered with XP, which appears to be even less popular than I had heard. And Windows 95 is getting extremely old now, for an OS, but maybe these people are using old hardware that doesn't support the newer OS versions, or doesn't run them fast enough. But Windows 98 is widely regarded as the flakiest OS ever released by Microsoft -- and that's saying something. I had a brief experience with Windows 98, and found it quite painful, even when I was only using it as a virtual terminal to dial in to the "real" computers at work.

Windows Me is conspicuous by it's absence, but maybe it advertises itself as something else within the MSIE "User-Agent:" string, perhaps Windows 98. A similar effect may also explain the low count of Windows XP users.


Bob Rogers <rogers@rgrjr.dyndns.org>