Vista is the biggest buzz word surrounding most PC products now starting to ship for the second half, despite the fact the new operating system is not likely to see the light of day until 2007.
Computers and peripheral products that utilize Microsoft's Vista operating system, originally slated for launch this fall but now set for sometime early next year, along with external storage products, are expected to garner a big chunk of the spotlight in the next six months.
With Microsoft's new Vista operating system launch postponed, the big product news for the second half has shifted over devices designed to take advantage of Vista's multimedia features. The first batch of these products is made up of PCs and notebooks being rolled out in July by all the major players for the back-to-school season.
Most manufactures hope that by supplying PCs that can later be updated to Vista, they will avoid a sales falloff created by customers delaying a computer purchase until Vista is shipped, but whether this strategy will work is still unknown.
“All our Q3 shipments are Vista-read,” said Eric Krondak, Toshiba's notebooks product manager, “and Q3 sales are looking good, but Q4 is still up in the air.”
On the plus side for PC vendors is that most consumers are not aware of Vista so they may not hold off a purchase. However, Krondak believes Microsoft's massive Vista marketing machine that will kick in later this year will reverse the situation.
Next-generation DVD optical drives are also being positioned to take center stage. Sony will ship its Blu-ray equipped Vaio AR Media Center series this summer and Toshiba has already shipped its HD DVD Qosmio G35-AV650.
The other area Vista is expected to give a boost to later this year is PC upgrades. Since the requirements to run Vista are not that far outside the capabilities of most PCs, some vendors expect do-it-yourself computer users to simply reconfigure their machine with the purchase of some more memory or a better graphics card.
Being Vista-ready only requires that the products meet a rather minimal hardware specification that includes a 1GHz processor, 40GB of hard drive space, 1GB of memory and an advanced graphics card for the basic edition of Vista and basically double that for the Premium version.
“We are excited because [Vista] is an opportunity to bring memory to the forefront. Usually people don't worry about it until they have a problem running an application,” said Dan Altana, PNY's memory product manager.
External hard drives and network attached storage devices are also expected to attract a large number of consumers with new technologies and products being introduced. Seagate's big push for the home in the second half centers on the Mirra Sync and Share personal server 2.0. This device, shipping in July.
Western Digital later this year will roll out its drives upgraded to use the perpendicular storage technology that allows a greater amount of data to be packed onto a hard drive platter, a technology Seagate has already introduced.