Gartner: Don't expect Vista release to push PC growth in '07

People won't likely rush to replace computers because of the OS

Gartner Inc. analysts don't expect that the release of Windows Vista next year will have much impact on boosting PC sales.

In a recent report on PC revenue, analysts for the research firm said they don't think Vista's release in early 2007 will do anything significant to affect the growth of PC sales, which they expect to be up 10.5% in 2006 over 2005.

"While we think the [Vista] marketing campaign will attract people, we don't see enough there to attract a mass movement or a big growth spurt," said George Shiffler, a Gartner research director. "We don't think it will encourage enough people to replace [their PCs] right then and there."

Moreover, he said PCs in general are not at the top of consumers' minds, particularly with the approaching holiday shopping season. Other consumer electronics may be a bigger lure, especially since Vista will fail to make its originally promised appearance on PCs before the holidays.

"There are lots of things people can spend their money on," Shiffler said. "What are PCs going to have going for them? Vista's not going to be out."

Microsoft originally promised to have Windows Vista on PCs by November, but in March pushed back its release to consumers until January 2007. Some analysts predict that the operating system will be out later than that, though online retailer Amazon.com Inc. has Jan. 30, 2007, as Vista's availability date in listings for presales of the operating system.

In lieu of Vista, Microsoft said yesterday that it will have a new consumer electronics product on retail shelves in time for the holidays: its Zune digital music player. The product will allow users not only to play music, photos and videos on a 3-in. screen, but also to share files with friends via a wireless connection. This is unlike Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod, with which it is designed to compete. It also differs from the iPod by offering an FM radio tuner.

In addition to the Zune player, Microsoft will offer the Zune Marketplace, an iTunes-like service where users can purchase music tracks and accessory packs for using the Zune player at home or in automobiles. 

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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