Microsoft flaunts 2M IE9 beta downloads

But usage share remains under one-tenth of 1%

Microsoft yesterday announced that users had downloaded more than two million copies of its Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) beta in the two days after its Sept. 15 launch.

"By comparison, when Internet Explorer 8 Beta launched in August 2008, we had 1.3 million downloads over the first five days," said Roger Capriotti, a product management lead on the IE team, in a post to a company blog Monday.

Capriotti also boasted that Microsoft's "Beauty of the Web" site had attracted nine million visitors and racked up over 26 million page views in the same period.

Microsoft released the first public beta of IE9 last Wednesday.

Most reviewers have given IE9 a thumbs up, citing its minimalist design, hardware acceleration and tighter integration with Windows 7. Computerworld's Preston Gralla was representative when he concluded that the changes "put IE back as a major competitor in the browser wars."

Web metrics vendors that track browser usage, however, were unable to verify that Microsoft's claim of IE9 beta downloads translated into people using the new browser.

"I don't doubt what Microsoft is saying," said Vince Vizzaccaro, a vice president with Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based Net Applications. "But for last week, IE9 achieved a 0.07% global usage [share]." Net Applications' week ends Saturday, so the 0.07% share includes the first two days, and more, of IE9's availability.

The firm kicked off IE9 usage tracking last week, so there was no available comparison to prior weeks when Microsoft only offered rough-around-the-edges developer previews.

IE9's out-of-the-gate download and usage share totals were less impressive than claims by rivals that have released new finalized, polished browsers in the last two years.

In June 2008, Mozilla touted 8.3 million downloads of Firefox 3.0 in the first day. The follow-up version, Firefox 3.5, scored over two million downloads within hours of its 2009 launch.

Google's Chrome grabbed 1% of the total browser share shortly after its early September 2008 debut.

And last April, Opera Software said that it had tracked more than a million downloads of Opera Mini, the Norwegian company's then-new iPhone browser, in the first 24 hours.

Opera Mini accomplished that in spite of the fact that Windows PCs able to run IE9 vastly outnumber in-use iPhones.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com.

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