Vista released: PC sales drop? Dealers blamed!

Jumping the gun

"I'm not buying a new PC, not yet," said the angry NewsWireless reader. "I need a new computer, and I found one online - but it comes with Windows Vista! I don't want that!"

Sadly, it seem that in their enthusiasm to be seen to be as far up on Microsoft's beautiful unique marketing as possible, several online PC stores have been advertising "With Windows Vista!" for their computers.

This is, to put it gently, an exaggeration.

Yes, Vista is available (well, it has been released to manufacture) and yes, MSDN subscribers are jamming its servers in an attempt to download a copy. And yes, corporate subscribers are allowed to get early access. But no, you can't go into a store and buy one, despite what it says on the adverts.

"Consumers," said Robert Epstein, in charge of Vista marketing in the UK, "won't get it till January 30. That's flat."

What these PC dealers are actually offering, he told NewsWireless, is an Express Upgrade "which is a disc which will be sent to the purchaser in February when it is released, with which they can upgrade their PC from Windows XP to Windows Vista."

Epstein says he really, really wants customers who see adverts which don't make this clear reported to him. We can help there: report it to NewsWireless, and we'll pass it on to someone senior, not just a clerk who will click the counter.

And what if you don't want Vista? Suppose you buy a computer in March next year, and still aren't impressed?

"We'll be selling Windows XP as a royalty option for at least several months after Vista ships," Epstein assured us. "I don't know for sure whether that means for the whole of 2007, but I'll find out."

So you can rush out and buy your new PC, safe in the assurance that you don't have to learn how to cope with the new Microsoft operating system. If you know how to change your display wallpaper, you won't have to re-learn. If you know how to refresh a Web page, that knowledge will stay valuable. If you've spent hours customising XP so it does what you want, you can carry on.

And if you run a PC store selling Vista with new PCs, now would be a great time to go and change the shop window display from "With Vista!" to "Vista upgrade included in price when available" - or Mr Epstein will be letting you know of his displeasure.

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