Apple's share of computers connected to the Internet climbed to a new record last month, with about 6.6 percent of all those online running Mac OS X, a market research firm reported Tuesday.
According to Net Applications, Apple's operating system accounted for 6.61 percent of all systems that browsed the 40,000 sites the company monitored in September. Previous market share highs for Apple were in February and May, when Mac OS X's piece of the pie reached 6.38 percent and 6.46 percent, respectively.
Net Applications' measurements of Mac market share showed that newer Intel-based machines gained significant ground on Macs running PowerPC processors last month. If the trend continues, Intel Macs will easily overtake the older systems before the end of the year. In September, Intel-equipped Macs made up 3.23 percent of all online personal computers, while PowerPC Macs accounted for 3.38 percent. A year ago, the split was 4.09 percent to 1.12 percent in favor of the PowerPC.
Wall Street has projected the same kind of progress. In recent weeks, several financial analysts have raised their Mac sales projections from earlier estimates. A week ago, for example, NPD Group analyst Richard Gardner bumped up his Mac sales figures for the quarter that ended Friday from 2 million to 2.17 million.
Microsoft's Windows remains the leading online operating system by a huge margin. The various versions of Windows were running on 90.02 percent of all PCs connected to the Internet in September. That's only slightly less than the 90.13 percent recorded in January. Windows Vista, however, continued to make gains at the expense of Windows XP and, to a lesser extent, Windows 2000. XP, running on 85.02 percent of all online PCs at the beginning of the year, was down to another new low of 79.32 percent in September.
Net Applications' browser data for September also pointed toward growing Mac use. The firm reports that Safari was running on 5.07 percent of all computers connected to the Internet, as Apple's browser broke the 5 percent mark for the first time. Safari placed third, behind Microsoft Internet Explorer, which remained the No. 1 browser with 77.86 percent of all online PCs, and Mozilla's Firefox, which was running on 14.88 percent of all online machines last month.