New OS XPected To Be Biggest Seller Ever
IDC predicts sales of Windows XP to top any version of Windows.
It was a bold claim to make. When Microsoft announced
a firm release date of Oct. 25 for Windows XP,
the press release quoted IDC analyst Al Gillen
as predicting historic sales for the latest desktop
"IDC expects that Windows XP
Home Edition and Windows XP Professional will
see more new license shipments by the end of 2002
than any other new Microsoft operating system
has had in its first full year of availability.
This will make it the fastest-adopted version
of Windows to date," Gillen said.
While Gillen says the statements
are true, it's also true that it's not as earth
shattering an event as Redmond would have you
believe. IDC does expect XP sales to be chart-toppers,
but it's due as much to the larger market now
as it is to XP's superiority over the various
flavors of Windows 9x.
"The volume of systems being
shipped today is so much higher than in those
days," Gillen said. "So even if XP isn't
a rip-roaring success, it will still sell huge."
In 1996, according to IDC's research,
sales of Windows 95 were just less than 20 million
units. Combined with Windows 3.1, still the reigning
sales champ in those days, 53 million copies of
Windows shipped. In 2000, sales of Windows 9x
and Millennium Edition topped 70 million units,
and the market may expand to 90 million units,
according to Gillen.
In the business market, IDC expects
XP Professional to quickly overtake Win2K Professional
sales, "over a two- to three- year period,"
Gillen said. That's despite his contention that
XP's a relatively minor upgrade from Win2K Professional.
"The GUI's different, but once
you play with it, it's Windows 2000 all the way
On the home front, Gillen expects
XP to have a big impact. "XP Home Edition
will be pushed out the (OEM) channel" in
big numbers, he said. One main reason is that
since it's based on the 2000 code base, it'll
be much more stable than 9x and require less support
staff for manufacturers.
On the other hand, IDC expects the
consumer upgrade market for XP to be dismal. Gillen
says that due to various compatibility and BIOS
problems, "a machine built in 1998, that's
still powerful, isn't going to be usable for XP.
There's a huge chunk of machines that won't be
able to run XP effectively or not at all."
As of deadline, Microsoft still hasn't
set a release date for Windows 2002 Server, Advanced
Server and Datacenter Server, but it's likely
to be early next year.
Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization Review.