Windows 7: The Numbers Are In, and They're Looking Good

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In its first week of sales, Windows 7 has already surpassed Vista. Looks like the hype and impressive reviews of Windows 7 are paying off.

Windows 7 software unit sales in the U.S. were 234 percent higher than Vista's first few days of sales, according to the NPD Group. In comparison, first-week retail sales of boxed copies of Windows Vista were almost 60 percent below sales of boxed copies of Windows XP in the week after its 2001 launch.

The numbers for revenue growth weren't as stellar, but are still impressive. Due to low-cost pre-sales, discounts, and a lack of promotion for the expensive Ultimate Edition, Windows 7 clocked in just an 82 percent increase over Vista.

"Microsoft's program of early low-cost pre-sales, high visibility marketing, and aggressive deals helped make the Windows 7 software launch successful," said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD, in an e-mail message. "In a slow environment for packaged software Windows 7 brought a large number of customers into the software aisles."

However, customers weren't flocking to the hardware aisles as much as they were during Vista's launch. Sales of Windows PCs were up 49 percent in units year-over-year and were up 95 percent over the week prior to launch. The growth of PC sales during Vista's launch was, in comparison, 68 percent in prior year's sales and 170 percent over the week prior to launch. There are several reasons for this. The economy, of course, limits the purchase of brand-new PCs.

During the Vista launch, Chris Swenson, a software analyst with NPD, said consumers "were getting the message that they need a more robust system to take advantage of some of the new features in Vista." Vista was a notorious memory hog, and switching from XP to Vista was an intimidating feat that required powerful PCs. Accustomed to higher-end OSes, customers likely did not need to beef up their existing computers to handle Windows 7.

Sounds like Windows 7 is doing a bang-up job of leaving its Vista predecessor in the dust. You can almost hear the champagne corks popping at Microsoft headquarters.

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