Ballmer Dampens Vista Expectations

Why is Steve Ballmer talking out of both sides of his mouth with respect to Vista sales?

After regaling the Jan. 30 launch date audience with predictions that Windows Vista will sell five times as many copies than Windows 95 over the next three months, and twice that of Windows XP in same time period, Ballmer reversed course dramatically at a February financial analysts' meeting.

At that event, Microsoft's CEO attempted to reset expectations for Vista sales, saying in particular that non-corporate (read: retail) sales will not spike beyond fiscal '07, which at Microsoft means June 30. Here's a sample of his measured comments:

"I, too, am very enthusiastic about Vista," Ballmer said. "But I think sometimes the enthusiasm about this great product and the excitement and the launch, people have to understand our revenue models because I think some of the revenue forecasts I've seen out there for Windows Vista in fiscal year '08 are overly aggressive."

So, what gives? Cynics will say this is pure stock price machinations, the old under-promise, over-deliver scheme. But does Microsoft really see something in the tea leaves that is causing it to throttle back on Vista sales expectations? Might the early, less-than-enthusiastic reviews, necessary hardware upgrades and security glitches be leading up to a less-than-stellar performance by a product Microsoft spent nearly five years developing?

What are your early experiences with Vista and does your company plan to upgrade anytime this year? Write to me at capril@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Carolyn April is the executive editor of features for Redmond magazine.

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