In its first two days of availability, the Internet Explorer (IE) 9 public beta was downloaded more than 2 million times, Microsoft says. That figure contrasts with the 1.3 million downloads of its predecessor, the IE 8 Beta, which occurred over five days.

"We are encouraged about the very early response to the IE 9 release this past week, namely because it signals that the emphasis on making websites shine through Windows is resonating," Microsoft's Roger Capriotti wrote in a blog post announcing the milestone. "We are looking forward to more and more partners building great experiences through Internet Explorer 9 to deliver a more beautiful web."

IMicrosoft has also tracked 9 million unique visitors to its Beauty of the Web site, which provides information about how Microsoft partners such as Amazon, BMW, CNN, Facebook, IMDB, and others are taking advantage of the new browser's hardware acceleration and standards compliance. Microsoft also tracked more than 4 million page views at its developer-oriented IE 9 Test Drive website.

My early assessment of IE 9 is overwhelmingly positive: The new browser is quicker, more efficient, and better looking than its predecessor, and it offers truly unique Windows 7 integration features that I think many people will enjoy and actually use every day. My review of the IE 9 beta is available now on the SuperSite for Windows.