Respected Internet statistics site StatCounter.com just reported that Windows 7 has pulled ahead of Vista in market share, as it continues a very strong climb toward the heights still held by the venerable Windows XP.
Just nine months into its official lifecycle, Windows 7 has hit 19.9 percent, besting Vista's 19.2 percent.
That's particularly remarkable when you consider that it took Vista more than two years to hit 20 percent market share.
Three details about the numbers strike me: First, Vista isn't losing market share very quickly. Vista's market share peaked in October 2009, but the decline since then has been minuscule. Second, Windows XP's fall from grace can almost be described as precipitous. From 57.7 percent in June, it's now down to 54.1 percent; back in December 2008, it hit 76.9 percent.
To understand the numbers, you need to understand how StatCounter collects them. According to the company, StatCounter tracks website page views on more than 3 million sites worldwide, distilling data from more than 15 billion page views per month. So this market share report reflects the percentage of website hits using the indicated operating system -- hard data. It's not an attempt to count the number of PCs in use.