In case there was any doubt that Windows Vista's days are numbered, it didn't take long for the installed base of Windows 7 users to pass its older sibling.
According to the latest figures from Web analytics firm Net Applications, by the end of July, Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows 7 was used by more people than Windows Vista.
After three and a half years on the market, Windows Vista holds 14.34 percent of the operating system market compared to 14.46 percent for Windows 7, which received its consumer debut at the end of October 2009, some nine months ago.
A week and a half ago, in announcing the company's fiscal year 2010 financials, Microsoft officials said they have now sold 175 million licenses for Windows 7.
The new figures may help PC decision makers make up their minds when and if to migrate from earlier versions of Windows to Microsoft's latest and greatest.
Vista's share of the operating system market has declined from 18.55 percent in November 2009, the first full month that Windows 7 was for sale to consumers -- a fall over nine months of 4.21 percent.
Over the same time frame, Windows 7 use rose from 4 percent to 14.46, adding 10.46 percentage points.
Still, the leader remains Windows XP, which holds 61.87 percent user share, underlining Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's mantra that the company's toughest competitor when it comes out with a new product is the previous version of the same product.
In this case, of course, the nine-year-old XP is the version that came out previous to Vista, which in turn was pre-empted by Windows 7.
However, XP's share hasn't exactly plummeted since Windows 7 went on sale.
In November, XP use was at 69.05 percent of all operating system usage. By the end of July, though, it had only lost 7.18 percent.
That steadfastness on the part of XP users may start to buckle soon, however, because in mid-July Microsoft stopped providing support to Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), by far the most popular release of XP.
Microsoft will continue to support XP SP3 until April 2014 but, by then the operating system will be 13 years old -- virtually an antique in the dog-years-world of high tech.
Of course, Microsoft has been pushing corporate PC decision makers to upgrade their systems from XP to Windows 7 since before the new system shipped.
Internet Explorer rebounds?
In the meantime, Microsoft is touting Net Applications' July data on browser usage as a turnaround of sorts for Internet Explorer (IE) which has been on the decline for several years. Perhaps a soft landing is a better term.
IE share had fallen to its lowest level yet in May, when it held 59.75 percent share. In June, those figures started back up, if marginally, reaching 60.32 percent usage share.
For July, that grew to 60.74 percent -- only 0.98 percent up from May, but still somewhat of a reversal of fortunes. The driver, according to Microsoft, has been the expanding use of IE8, which shipped in March 2009.
"Most interesting is the fact that Internet Explorer 8 continues to be the fastest growing browser with a 0.98 percent increase worldwide in July -- and now represents more than 30 percent of browser usage worldwide," Ryan Gavin, senior director of IE business and marketing, said in a post to the Exploring IE blog Sunday.