Microsoft struggled under a negative public image during the Vista years. However, the work it did would help to lay the foundation for Windows 7, perhaps Microsoft's most popular operating system to date. The new OS, which was released last October, was extremely well received thanks in part to an unprecedented public test program that saw millions download free trial builds of early versions of the OS and suggest ways Microsoft could improve it.
Now Windows 7 has hit a market share of 10 percent according to market research firm Net Applications. To put those gains in context, Windows Vista did not hit over 10 percent until May 2008 – what took Windows Vista 16 months to achieve, Windows 7 did in a mere 5 months.
Currently, Windows Vista has around a 20 percent market share, while the nine-year-old Windows XP holds 60 to 70 percent market share.
Despite the emphatic success of Windows 7, the fastest selling OS in history, Microsoft is hard at work improving the operating system and its successors Microsoft is reportedly readying Windows 7 Service Pack 1 for a June 2010 beta release and a September 2010 final release. The SP1 will bring out of the box support for USB 3.0, one of the most exciting new computer technologies.
And according to Chris Green, a former Microsoft developer, Microsoft is already hard at work on the best-selling operating system's successor, code named Windows 8. The next-gen Windows may be released on July 2011. He leaked an entire release schedule which includes the upcoming Office 2010 and its successor Office 2012.
Microsoft also had some other good news to report. In January 2010, Internet Explorer 8 became the world's most used browser, passing IE 6. IE 8 currently has about a 22.31 percent market share worldwide. Internet Explorer 8's gains have been partially fueled by Windows 7's success -- IE 8 is the default browser on the U.S. edition of the OS.
IE 8 also has benefited from a recent push by Microsoft to get users away from IE 6 and IE 7, both of which have a flaw that was exploited by Chinese hackers to steal corporate data. Microsoft is urging users to upgrade to the new browser. Amazingly 20.07 percent of users in January still used IE 6 (many of these were likely business users). Google recently announced that it would be phasing out support for IE 6.
Microsoft appears to be firing on all cylinders. If it can continue its momentum with the release of Office 2010 later this year, it should be in a very favorable position at the year's end.