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Vista Stimulating PC Sales At Retail

The initial sales data on Microsoft Windows Vista indicates the new operating system did not sell as well as Windows XP, but it did spur PC hardware sales in the days following Vista’s Jan. 30 launch.

The NPD Group’s weekly retail point-of-sale data analysis for Vista’s launch week showed unit shipments down 58.9 percent and dollar sales down 32.1 percent compared with the comparable period for Windows XP’s launch, reported Chris Swenson, NPD’s software analysis director.

However, NPD found hardware sales for that same week were up 67 percent compared with the same period in 2006. While the research firm believes some of this increase reflects normal growth, much of it can be attributed to Vista.

Retailers also noted an immediate hardware sales increase.

“We’re pleased with the initial sales of Windows Vista software and computers running the new operating system. During the first week of sales, CompUSA saw a spike in computer and software sales,” said Virginia Hodges, the chain’s home and business technology. “We expect sales of the software and computers running the new operating system to increase over the next few months as more consumers experience Windows Vista.”

Steve Baker, NPD’s industry analysis VP, had stated that there was a fall-off in PC sales in the weeks leading up to Vista’s release, demonstrating that consumers were holding off until they could get a Vista-equipped PC.

“Sales had slowed leading up to the release of Vista. Customers were probably holding off purchasing new PCs until the launch, although in October Microsoft did offer free upgrades on systems purchased prior to the rollout,” confirmed Paulette Brown, business development director for RCS Computer Experience.

She added that RCS experienced a 300 percent increase in PC sales year-over-year for the weeks starting Jan. 30. Brown couched that statement saying the store only had a limited number of PCs available last year.

“Office Depot is pleased with the performance of Microsoft Vista and Microsoft Office software to date,” said Linda Boykin, the company’s divisional merchandising manager “Initial indications are showing a smooth platform transition for customers, and sales traffic has been meeting our expectations.” said Vista-based Sony, Toshiba and Hewlett-Packard computers dominated its top sellers list after Jan. 30 and the company saw a healthy number of customers place pre-orders on Jan. 28 and this activity greatly increased after Jan. 30.

The Microsoft Office 2007 Vista was Amazon’s No. 2 best-selling software title still in late February with the Vista Premium selling far below in the 25 slot.

It appears Microsoft and the various vendors did a good job informing consumers on whether their computer could handle Vista.

“One week after the launch, we’ve only heard from three customers in total about problems loading Vista onto their PCs, mostly relating to a wireless driver issue,” said RCS’ Brown.

Steve Wandler, CEO of the YourTechOnline a Web-based customer support firm, said Vista has not caused a spike in support calls, although some customers have complained the memory- and processor-hungry operating system is slowing down their PCs general operation.