Microsoft: Windows 7 beat expectations
Analysts agree, but offer caveats about tablets and the long life of Windows XP
Computerworld - On the eve of the first anniversary of Windows 7's launch, Microsoft today said the operating system has exceeded its expectations.
Analysts agreed that Windows 7 has been a success, especially after the lukewarm reception customers gave its predecessor, Vista, but cautioned that Microsoft's fundamental philosophy about operating systems may mean trouble down the road.
"I think Windows 7 has exceeded expectations," said Gavriella Schuster, Microsoft's general manager of Windows product management, in a statement the company issued today.
"We were in such a bad place economically," she added, referring to the recession that dampened computer purchasing in 2008 and 2009. "I didn't know how that was going to play out. I was nervous. But I feel really good about how it's all turned out."
Microsoft boasted today that it has sold more than 240 million Windows 7 licenses to date, an increase of 65 million since it last touted numbers three months ago during a quarterly earnings call.
The 65 million licenses sold in the last 90 days translates into a pace of 8.35 licenses sold per second, slightly down from the 9.97 licenses per second sold during a 29-day stretch from June 23 to July 21, 2010.
"I'm pretty impressed with Windows 7," said Michael Cherry, an analyst with Kirkland, Wash.-based Directions on Microsoft, a research firm that specializes in tracking Microsoft's moves. "It repaired a lot of things that got off track with Vista, so yes, it has exceeded my expectations."
Well, almost, added Cherry.
"If there's one thing that has not met expectations, it's that Mr. Ballmer keeps saying that it's Microsoft's tablet OS," Cherry said. "I have a fundamental issue with the two approaches [to tablets] that Microsoft and Apple have. The Windows 7 tablet approach is that all the apps that people would want on their desktop, they also want on a tablet.
"Apple says, no they don't," Cherry continued, giving Apple the nod as the smarter philosophy.
"It's hard to say that Windows 7 is not a hit," echoed Michael Silver, an analyst with Gartner Research. But like Cherry, Silver offered a caveat. "Windows 7 is doing much better [than Vista] but not every license they've shipped is being used, either."
Silver has a point. Microsoft may tout 240 million licenses, but many of those are accounted for by standing agreements that allow enterprises copies of Windows 7 that they may not actually deploy for months, or even years, as they retire older systems running Windows XP.
In fact, with all the success of Windows 7, the nine-year-old XP remains the dominant version of Microsoft's OS by a wide margin.
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