Google Chrome browser briefly surpassed Internet Explorer as the most used browser on the web at the weekend based on data compiled by StatCounter, and although the news may have taken some by surprise the writing has been on the wall for some time.

Since its public release in late 2008, Chrome has quickly begun to supplant Mozilla Firefox as the leading alternative to IE, which as recently as mid-2007 commanded fully two-thirds of the browser marketplace, according to statistics from W3Counter.

Nevertheless, there are some clear caveats to Chrome's achievement. For one thing, the browser's pre-loading of web pages based on search results is interpreted by some measurements as a page view, inflating its apparent usage totals.

Additionally, the timing of Chrome's apparent passage of IE is significant, with ZDNet blogger Zack Whittaker noting that differences between home and work browser use likely favour Microsoft's program. (Whittaker also pointed out that Firefox and Chrome have both surpassed IE in the European market.)

While there were factors mitigating the scale of the victory won by Chrome, however, there were also obstacles for it to overcome. Google recently penalised the browser's search engine rankings after admitting that paid links were used to boost its visibility. This slowed Chrome's market share growth, but clearly did not halt it.