Microsoft's Internet Explorer is losing its former iron grip on the browser market, with Mozilla's Firefox gaining ground rapidly.

The global market share of Internet Explorer dropped under the 70% in November for the first time since browser use has been measured.

Mozilla's Firefox, Apple's Safari, Opera and Google's Chrome browsers all gained ground, posting gains for the month.

Mozilla FTW

Firefox has now edged up to a solid 20.8% share of the browser market. Vince Vizzaccarro, Net Applications' executive vice president of marketing, explained the move to alternative browsers as follows:

"The more home users who are online, using Firefox and Safari at home rather than IE, the more those browsers' shares go up," noting that more people are at home through November (with Thanksgiving in the US) than most other months.

Most people's office PCs typically run Microsoft's IE, while Firefox and Safari are far more prevalent in the home.

"I expect Firefox and Safari to go up in December, too," added Vizzaccarro.

TechRadar readers ahead of curve

TechRadar's own readers (yes, YOU) seem to have been making the switch away from Internet Explorer to Firefox and other competing browsers over the last year, as you can see from the latest breakdown of our user data, below:

January - June 2008 browser share:

Firefox 36%

IE7 36%

IE6 19%

Opera 3%

Safari 2%

July - December 2008

Firefox 48%

IE7 22%

IE6 9%

Safari 7%

Opera 7%

Google Chrome 3%

Check out the detailed Net Applications' browser share data online.