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Most IE9 Testers Are Running the Beta on Windows 7

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October was a topsy-turvy month for Microsoft -- both for its browsers as well as its operating systems, according to the latest figures from Web analytics firm Net Applications. The report also has a few surprises.

For instance, Net Applicationsrevealed that, of the 10 million people who have downloaded and are using Internet Explorer 9 Beta in the past six weeks, the vast majority of them are running Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) beta browser on Windows 7.

"Our browser usage numbers show that Internet Explorer 9 Beta has grown about 2.5 times from 0.61 percent in September to 1.46 percent in October on the Windows 7 platform. Worldwide, Internet Explorer 9 Beta represents 0.32 percent of browser usage share across all operating systems," a Net Applications report said.

Also in October, according to Net Applications' calculations, Windows XP finally fell below 60 percent -- 59.07 percent -- of global operating system use. It is still the most installed operating system, however.

Microsoft has been trying for the past several years to move users away from XP. On October 22, the company quit allowing PC makers to pre-install XP on new PCs, although some volume customers still have the right to request "downgrade rights" -- so determined customers can still get XP.

Even without the new restrictions, XP's slippage has been fairly consistent over the past year. For example, use of XP fell by 10 percentage points in the past year.

In contrast, the graph of Windows 7's growth in usage has been the classic hockey stick curve of a sure hit. Microsoft announced in late October that Windows 7 had sold more than 240 million licensesfor the new system in its first year on the market.

According to Net Applications, Windows 7's market share jumped from 4 percent last November to 18.24 percent in October. Windows Vista finished October with 12.88 percent share, losing some 5 ½ percentage points from a year earlier.

In the meantime, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) continues to reign supreme in worldwide search markets, with 85.16 percent share in October. Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) held steady from September through October with 6.32 percent.

Next in line, however is, perhaps a little surprisingly, not Microsoft Bing. Instead, China's Baidu comes in third place with 3.35 percent share of search, while Bing only hit 3.23 percent of all global searches in October.

Given Microsoft's recently-completed integrationof Bing search and advertising technologies into Yahoo's search sites, though, a combination of Bing's and Yahoo's search share would come out to 9.55 percent share.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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