RealTime IT News

Microsoft Sites Up Big in Time Spent Online

Microsoft may be having a slow hard slog trying to popularize its Bing search engine, but there's one online market where Microsoft is doing quite well.

A leading Web analytics firm said Friday that Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Web sites were the most popular with users on the Internet last month.

According to a new report released by comScore (NASDAQ: SCOR), Microsoft's sites, which include mega sites like Microsoft.com, portal MSN.com, and search engine Bing.com, garnered almost 15 percent of all time users spent online worldwide in September.

That constitutes a jump of 43 percent from September 2008.

One service driving that growth, a synopsis of the report said, was Microsoft's Live Messenger instant messaging service, which accounted for 70 percent of the time "spent on the property during the month,"

Overall, users spent nearly 27 billion hours surfing the Web in September 2009, an increase of 24 percent from the same month last year.

Users spent 3.9 billion hours on Microsoft sites, an increase from 2.7 billion in September 2008, comScore said.

ComScore's report was based on data from its World Metrix service, and assumed the user population was comprised of 1.2 billion users over the age of 15, comScore said.

Microsoft versus Google

In search, Microsoft is scrambling to catch up to the clear search engines market leader Google (NASDAQ: GOOG). But time spent online is a very different measurement.

Google's sites gleaned just over 9 percent of users' time -- for a total of 2.5 billion user hours. However, Google's share improved by 48 percent in the past year. That emphasizes what's at stake, since many of the vendors' sites are ad supported.

Obviously, then, the race between the two giant companies isn't confined to search, although search often drives users' surfing habits.

Meanwhile, Yahoo [NASDAQ: YHOO] comes in third, with 1.7 billion hours with Yahoo sites combined getting about 6 percent of the market. That's a 14 percent decline since last year, when it pulled in 2 billion user hours.

The biggest gainer was number four player Facebook.com which, while only accumulating 1.4 billion hours, jumped nearly 200 percent since last year.

"Microsoft sites held the largest share of time spent among the top worldwide properties in Europe (16.8 percent), Latin America (35.9 percent) and the Middle East - Africa (33.1 percent)," the report added, regarding regional trends.

Yahoo sites were most popular in North America with 11.2 percent of the hours spent while Google did best in Latin America with 19 percent.

"With the US economy only now emerging from a recession, many multinational corporations have shifted the focus of their growth strategies towards developing markets and the Internet represents an important aspect of those strategies," Jack Flanagan, executive vice president of comScore Media Metrix, said in a statement.