With Net Applications publishing its September 2011 web browser market share usage share numbers, Microsoft is once again framing the discussion around the gains it is making getting its most modern browser, Internet Explorer 9, deployed to its most modern OS, Windows 7. In a similar vein, the software giant is touting that usage of the aging and insecure IE 6 browser has once again dropped significantly.

First, let's get the story everyone else is writing out of the way. Yes, overall IE usage did fall again in September, this time from 55.31 percent in the previous month to 54.4 percent. And yes, Google Chrome did again make a similar gain, from 15.5 percent usage share in August to 16.2 percent for September. (Firefox held steady at about 22.5 percent.)

Queue monthly articles and posts about the decline/death/whatever of IE. We get it. The world is changing. One percentage point a month.

Microsoft, meanwhile, is making lemonade by focusing on the statistics that matter most to it: IE 9 running on Windows 7, of course, and the decline of IE 6. Both seem to be proceeding well.

IE 9 running on Windows 7 now represents over 22 percent of all web browser usage worldwide. In the US, it's even higher--way higher--at 31 percent. That's pretty impressive since users need to choose to install IE 9, and in a world in which those users are supposedly choosing alternatives, many of them are in fact sticking with Microsoft's browser.

More to the point, when you look at the overall losses that IE experienced in September, much of that was gained back by IE 9. So those losses are, in fact, mostly coming from IE 6, whose usage dropped 1.25 percent points in the month. As Microsoft notes, IE 6 has now dropped to 9 percent usage share worldwide, but the actual figure is just 3.5 percent if you ignore China's usage.

The most interesting part of this, to me, is the following graphic, which was supplied by Microsoft. In it, I see the type of three way race I've long expected for the web browser market (and, as it turns out for the smart phone market as well), with Microsoft's latest entry ahead of some very competitive and new alternatives:

browsers_on_win7_0

As far as I can tell, that's the future in a nutshell: More heterogeneous than the PC world of the past.