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Vista's Jackrabbit Start

While Microsoft proudly proclaimed in late March that Windows Vista was off to a fast start, selling 20 million licenses of the product in just its first month of availability (3 million more than Windows XP sold in its first two months), some analysts took a bit of shine off those numbers.

In a report to clients, Citigroup analyst Brent Thill states the numbers are "only slightly ahead of expectations," adding that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has recently made more cautious statements around what sort of revenues the operating system would bring in for the current fiscal year.

Thill says Vista's role is not so much to bring in high numbers but to serve as a stimulant for customers to buy other Microsoft products.

Al Gillen, Research Vice President of System Software, IDC

Al Gillen, research vice president of System Software at IDC, says he expects Microsoft to ship just under 90 million copies of Vista by the end of 2007, with 52 million going to home users and almost 38 million going to businesses.

"We think they should average about 8 million copies a month [over the last 11 months of 2007]. So if they're saying 20 million in one month -- wow, that's a lot of copies. Their fourth quarter client-side numbers were not so good...so it might be reasonable to assume there was a strong bounce-back in the first quarter," Gillen says.

Gillen adds that in 2001, the year Windows XP shipped, Microsoft sold 103 million Windows client OSes. In 2007 the company is currently on a run rate of 162 million for the year.

"Rolling out a product in 2007, you might expect there'd be a 60 percent pickup for the first couple of months for that product. With all things being equal -- and of course they are not all equal -- in theory the numbers ought to be a little bigger," Gillen says.

Microsoft's numbers include both boxed copies and copies bundled on new PCs, as well as those people who have registered for free Vista upgrades. However, company officials claim that the free upgrade requests were not the main reason for the fast start.

About the Author

Ed Scannell is the editor of Redmond magazine.

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