"Since launch, we’ve already sold twice as many units of Windows 7 than any other operating system we’ve ever launched in a comparable time," said Ballmer, who spoke Thursday at Microsoft's annual shareholder meeting.
Ballmer said Windows 7 "is the simply best PC operating system we have ever built. It enables people to do more of what they want to do more easily and more quickly, and customers are responding," Ballmer said.
Windows 7 screen shot
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Though it's been on the market for only about a month, the software's share of the operating system market has jumped from 1.89% on Oct. 22nd, the day of its release, to 3.79% as of Wednesday, according to data from Net Applications.
All versions of Windows, including XP, Vista, and Windows 7, continue to dominate the computer operating system market, with a total share of 92.5%. Apple's Mac OS is a distant second, with a 5.3% stake. The open source Linux OS is third most popular, with a market share of about 1%.
Ballmer formally introduced Windows 7 last month at an industry event in New York City. Ballmer said Windows 7 is simple to use, responsive, and unobtrusively secure—all things Vista was not. The OS "makes everyday use of a PC better," said Ballmer.
Microsoft worked with 3,000 engineers and 50,000 tech industry partners to build Windows 7, a product the company hopes will eventually make its way to 8 million customers.
Computer users knocked Windows Vista for its intrusive security features, heavy horsepower requirements, and incompatibility with many older software programs.
To boost compatibility in Windows 7, Microsoft added to some versions an "XP mode" that emulates Vista's predecessor, which is still used by most businesses. Windows 7 also provides native support for new input modes, such as touch-screen computing.
The full version of Windows 7 Professional is $299, with upgrades going for $199. Windows 7 Ultimate is priced at $319, with the upgrade version at $219. The full version of Windows 7 Home Premium is priced at $199, with an upgrade from Vista or XP costing $119.
InformationWeek has published an indepth report on Windows 7. Download the report here (registration required).