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Sales Boost Seen With Windows 7 Launch

Sales of Windows 7 to U.S. consumers during the operating system's October debut outpaced those of Vista when it first launched.

That's one of the findings of The NPD Group, a market research firm that tracked Windows 7 sales during the week of Oct. 18 to 24. The firm found that Windows 7 unit sales were 234 percent higher than Vista unit sales during its launch days.

Windows 7 had its public debut on Oct. 22, so The NPD Group's sales data included some prelaunch figures. However, the launch apparently had a stimulatory effect.

"In a slow environment for packaged software, Windows 7 brought a large number of customers into the software aisles," commented Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at The NPD Group, in a prepared statement.

Consumer buyers of boxed copies of Windows 7 were mostly interested in the Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade, followed by upgrade copies of Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Home Premium Family Pack. The Family Pack allows for licensing of Windows 7 on up to three PCs.

Although people were buying boxed software, the picture changed markedly when The NPD Group looked at PC sales during the Windows 7 launch week.

The company found that "Windows PC sales were down 6 percent compared to PC sales during the Vista launch week." In addition, Baker said that "20 percent of sales during the Windows 7 launch" involved new PCs with older OSes, such as Windows XP and Vista. XP is still being sold on netbooks, which may account for The NPD Group's finding.

Vista had the advantage of being launched in January, which tends to be a better time for sales than Window 7's October launch, according to Baker.

Initial Windows 7 sales may seem rosy compared with those of Vista. However, overall, the launch of the new OS gave Microsoft's Windows revenues a relatively modest bounce. During a first-quarter financial briefing, Chris Liddell, Microsoft's chief financial officer, said that commercial retail sales of Windows increased two percent due to Windows 7's launch.

Liddell suggested that consumers will still buy PCs in bad economic times. He also predicted a renewed buying cycle would start up sometime next year for corporate PC buyers.

On Thursday, Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer claimed that Windows 7 sales were particularly big in Japan. He added that people tend to buy PCs rather than boxed copies of Windows these days, according to a Digital Trends story. However, that assessment didn't seem to be reflected in The NPD Group's U.S. study results.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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