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WinXP sales press releases fly off shelves

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WinXP is flying off the shelves. Again, apparently. The US version of the Microsoft press release saying so went out last Friday, and yesterday the localised UK model turned up in the Reg email. Over here it is indeed flying off the shelves, but flying at the same velocity as it was in the US last Friday, rather than the increased one unveiled by Bill himself on Sunday.

Figures from NPD Intelect suggest the numbers they first thought of may be closer to reality. XP did 300,000 retail copies in its first three days, compared with the 200,000 WinME did and the 400,000 Win98 did. It may still be possible that Bill's claims of it being the best selling software product ever and clocking up twice the previous best level for a Windows product are true; Bill was talking about the first two weeks rather than the first three days, but one has one's doubts.

We note also that the flying off the shelves release grabs a quick snippet from NPD: "According to NPD INTELECT, total retail software sales have climbed more than 50 percent in the week following the launch of Windows XP."

Indeedie-doody. But there's a little bit of context from the company that for some reason is not mentioned in the release: "'A huge promotional effort from Microsoft really drove sales of Windows XP in the first few days,' said Steve Koenig, software analyst for NPD INTELECT. 'At some retailers, you needed a wheelbarrow to carry away all the free hardware and software products being offered with a purchase of XP. Offers like these convinced several fence-sitters to go ahead and make the move to the new OS.'"

Wheelbarrows obstructing the aisles may indeed explain why retailers are having trouble keeping shelves stocked with XP, thank you Steve.

Back in the UK localised copy we have Colin Middlemiss of Time Computers admitting a "significant rise" in sales, and that the company has "seen almost 30% of sales coming from replacement buyers who see Windows XP as a must have upgrade." How he can tell this about 30 per cent of buyers Colin doesn't say, but as Time's current UK ad campaign is pushing XP like crazy, and the Time site offers XP preloads on all but four entry level desktops, a high XP component in current sales levels would seem eminently explicable.

Lastly, we note with some dismay a familiar name down at the bottom of the rentaquote section. Chap called Rob Wait, who seems to be worldwide business manager for HP's Consumer Business Organization. "HP PCs plus Windows XP mean an energised market with higher initial sales than expected, decreased customer support calls, and an improved PC experience overall for customers," says Rob. We knew a Rob Wait once. He worked for Zenith, moved to Paris around the time of the Zenith warehouse fire there that the insurers got so suspicious about (we assure you Rob was nowhere near the warehouse at the time), then he switched over to HP.

At HP they moved him away from press-facing work, so from our point of view he vanished without trace. But a quick Google of Rob Wait reveals he's been leaving traces in one particular place we seldom look at. On and on, the Microsoft press releases quoting him as being enthusiastic about this, that and the next thing roll. As we almost always fall asleep before we get to the rentaquote section, we'd no way of knowing this until now.

And it's worse than that. Remember when WinXP RTMed? Six ringwraiths from the PC industry were given special golden disks, prestigeous luggage and despatched by helicopter to their respective factories? Yes, that's right. As quoted by Reuters at the time Rob Wait said: "We are extremely excited today to be picking up this suitcase, because with this case and this gold disk, we are reclaiming the PC industry mojo." Yup, our old drinking buddy's a ringwraith. ®

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