Microsoft's internet Explorer 9 beta has been downloaded 23 million times, and now accounts for 0.5 per cent of all internet users worldwide, according to Net Applications.

Although it is still in beta – IE9 has proven a hit for Microsoft as it looks to offer a 'more beautiful experience'.

IE8 currently accounts for 34.17 per cent of users worldwide, but Microsoft is wary of its browser market share being eaten in to by the likes of Google's fast growing Chrome browser.

Chrome 10 per cent

Indeed, the same NetApplications report points to Chrome breaking the 10 per cent of the market barrier for the first time in January with a 0.72 per cent growth, although Internet Explorer 8 showed stronger growth in the same period (1.18 per cent).

"We are pleased to see users continue to leverage Windows 7 capabilities together with IE9 for a more beautiful web experience,"blogged Roger Capriotti – director of Internet Explorer product marketing.

"On Windows 7, Internet Explorer 9 already accounts for 1.82 per cent of users worldwide."

Microsoft's delight at the latest figures is understandable, with IE9 being a key launch for the company as its browsers come under pressure.

Of course, other analytics companies reports may tell a different story. StatCounter figures from early January suggested that Firefox had overtaken Internet Explorer in Europe.