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Internet Explorer’s overall market share, which stood at more than 90 percent seven years ago, fell again in December 2011 and appears poised to dip below 50 percent across all computers sometime in 2012, according to the latest NetMarketShare numbers.

However, in its own public observations, Microsoft is continuing its practice of focusing exclusively on the latest version of the browser, Internet Explorer 9, and its progress on Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system. And in that specific regard, the news is positive, with IE9 approaching IE8 on a worldwide basis on Windows 7 and taking the lead on Windows 7 in the U.S. market.

Roger Capriotti, director of IE marketing, calls it “a great start to 2012” in a blog post published yesterday. A couple of comments on his post question this statement and point out the overall declines — including one commenter who jokes that maybe IE10 market share on Windows 8 is all that should matter.

I’ve asked Capriotti about this issue in the past, and here’s what he had to say.

“In terms of how we measure success and what we’re aiming for, it’s all about the latest version of our browser on Windows 7. Our flagship product, IE9, on Windows 7, our other flagship product, is the best browsing experience. And as long as we see people growing and preferring IE9 on Windows 7, we can feel really good about our business.”

Internet Explorer is Windows-only now, so Microsoft confining its analysis to Windows in general would be natural. But it remains risky for the company to focus solely on the IE9 trend specifically on Windows 7, at least for now. Windows 7 now stands at 37 percent (and rising) of the worldwide desktop OS market, compared with 47 percent (and falling) for Windows XP and 8 percent (and falling) for Windows Vista.

Here’s what the browser trends look like on Windows 7, via Microsoft …

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