Microsoft monopolized the desktop. Now it owns the lion's share of the world's top Web sites.

The Standard cites data from Compete that puts Microsoft's Web sites at the top of the list of trafficked sites. It was once thought the Internet was too vast to be conquered. Now one-quarter of all minutes spent online in the United States go to just three firms: America Online, Microsoft and Yahoo. ... Microsoft's dominance is becoming apparent as Web ratings firms begin measuring traffic in other countries around the world. Forty-five percent of the top five Web sites in 26 countries are affiliated with Microsoft, according to an analysis of Nielsen NetRatings data by The Standard. Only 1 percent are AOL sites. ... Data from Compete shows 80 percent of Microsoft's U.S. pageviews go to its free e-mail service, Hotmail. Another traffic researcher, ComScore, finds only 1 percent of the time spent on Microsoft sites is at MSNBC, and 15 percent goes to the MSN homepage. By comparison, Yahoo's traffic is far less concentrated in any one area. And Microsoft still trails Yahoo in unique visitors worldwide.