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More than 2.3 million copies of the new Internet Explorer 9 were downloaded in the first 24 hours of availability, Microsoft announced this afternoon, describing the pace as faster than the rate of downloads for either the beta or the release candidate of the new browser.

It’s a good thing, because the new Microsoft browser won’t have much of a head start. A Mozilla representative this afternoon confirmed a report that the final release of the new Firefox 4 is slated for next Tuesday, March 22 — giving IE9 a little more than a week of breathing room.

[Previously: Firefox 4 release candidate: Hot out of the oven]

In the market share race, Mozilla will also have the advantage of Firefox 4 working on older versions of Windows — not just Windows XP, but dating all the way back to Windows 2000.

Internet Explorer 9 works only on Windows Vista and Windows 7 — not Windows XP — which helped free Microsoft up to implement some advanced features under the hood of the new browser.


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