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7 Million Windows XP Shipments

Microsoft Corp. claims 7 million copies of Windows XP shipped in the two weeks since it launched the new operating system.

Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates calls the sales "amazing," and another Microsoft official suggested the momentum around the new OS could spur computer buying over the holidays. One industry analyst who follows Microsoft shipment numbers closely suggests the number is less stunning than it might sound.

"The appetite of businesses and consumers worldwide for innovative PC technologies is stronger than ever," Gates enthused in a Comdex speech. "We believe that Windows XP will light a fire of innovation across the entire high-technology industry."

Microsoft says sales have been about 200 percent what they were for Windows 98. The 7 million figure dovetails an industry milestone Microsoft reportedly reached with Windows 95 about two months after its release.

Al Gillen, an analyst who tracks operating system shipments for market research firm IDC, says comparison with previous operating system sales are meaningless.

"It would strike me as really odd if the first couple months of Windows XP sales are not higher than anything else that Microsoft has ever sold," Gillen says. "If it was less than any previous operating system it would be a complete failure."

Gillen points to two key pieces of context in evaluating Microsoft's momentum numbers.

First, Microsoft currently sells more than 100 million copies of client operating system licenses per year, many more licenses than it did at the time of the Windows 98 or any other previous client operating system launch. (While 7 million units in two weeks puts Microsoft on a pace to greatly exceed 100 million units, sales momentum usually spikes in the first month after release).

Second, Windows XP unifies the code base for the first time, meaning it can replace all prior operating systems -- Windows 9.x consumer operating systems and Windows NT-based business operating systems.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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