Microsoft has showcased Net Applications data for its Windows 7 operating system that suggests that Google's Chrome browser is only three per cent behind IE9 in terms of usage on the operating system.

The US software giant is obviously focusing on the US figures that give IE9 a 31 per cent share, but the worldwide figures for Windows 7 users paint a much more balanced picture.

On that, IE9 is still in the lead with a 22.1 per cent share, but Google's rival Chrome browser has 18.1 per cent of browser usage, and Firefox a not inconsiderable 15.7 per cent.

Bear in mind the fact that this is Windows 7 data – meaning that OS X and mobile platform users, as well as XP, Vista and Linux, are excluded.

Viable alternative

Windows 7 has a clear screen allowing people to set their default browser so Microsoft will be pleased that IE9 is performing on its own merits, but presumably concerned that such a big percentage see Chrome as a viable alternative.

"Internet Explorer 9 continues its growth this month as more and more people are switching to the latest version of IE," Microsoft's director of Internet Explorer marketing Roger Capriotti blogged.

"As of the end of September, IE9 now holds 31% share on Windows 7 in the US. Worldwide, IE9 is 22% of all usage share on Windows 7."

Capriotti also talks about the decline in market share for the decrepit IE6, expressing his delight that people are beginning to upgrade to modern browsers.

"Another great trend is the sharp drop of IE6 as more people move towards modern browsers," wrote Carptiotti.

"IE6 has now dropped to 9% usage share worldwide in September (and if you remove China's figures, IE6 only represents 3.5% usage share worldwide)."