MS claims Win2k sells million in first month

Good, bad? Depends on how you look at it...

Microsoft says it has sold a million copies of Windows 2000 in the month after its launch, the total consisting of retail and OEM copies of all versions of the OS. Depending on how you look at it this could be anything from bad to good progress, but hey - it's a nice round figure for marketing purposes. As The Register tediously observes every time Microsoft starts boasting about its post-ship sales, it's neither difficult nor clever for the company to make an operating system into a success. It may have a bit of foot-dragging on the part of PC OEMs and major enterprise customers to overcome, but where else are they going to go? And as the bulk of the industry remains locked into the Windows Road Ahead, they'll have to switch sooner or later. But in the interests of balance we're willing to accept that Win2k does largely seem to be the smart upgrade route, so long as you're a Windows shop. That million figure doesn't include licences from enterprise agreements, nor does it break down the numbers so we can gauge retail performance. But it's on a par with, possibly slightly less than, the initial sales of Windows 98, so maybe we can try a couple of assumptions. Win98 was a fairly quiet launch, and although switching over from Win95 was in princple a no-brainer for OEMs, Microsoft messed them around then on drivers and the hardware testing period (remember the days when we were getting the integrated OS out the door fast, before the DoJ pulled the trigger?), so they didn't flip the switch instantly. Retail sales for 98 were meanwhile pretty much what you'd expect for an OS that wasn't heavily promoted in that channel. Microsoft had flung a lot of money at this at the time of the Win95 launch, and basically it didn't work. People do not buy operating systems like they buy records or games, end of story. More successfully, Microsoft also did a lot of OEM strong-arming (hello, IBM) prior to Win95, so the fact that neither 98 nor Win2k matched 95's initial sales performance isn't particularly significant. Win2k not matching Win98 may however be significant. On the one hand, as it's being pitched as a business OS, you'd expect initial sales to be lower. But on the other, given pent-up demand and severe hyping, you'd also expect an initial surge. The picture will become a little clearer once independent numbers are in, but in the meanwhile we'd all do well to avoid falling for early Redmond attempts to spin it into a raging success. ®

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