Microsoft: Early Windows XP sales top those of Windows 95, ME

Early sales of Windows XP have exceeded those of some previous Microsoft Corp. desktop operating systems, boosting PC-related industries, the company said Thursday, citing independent research figures.

Since the Oct. 25 official release of Windows XP, more upgrades and copies of the software have been sold compared with the same period following the launches of Windows 95 and Windows ME, Microsoft said. The new operating system is "keeping pace" with Windows 98, it added.

In the three days following the official launch of Windows XP, U.S. retailers sold more than 300,000 copies of the operating system, according to data from NPD Intelect Market Tracking, a tracking firm for the consumer electronics industry that gathers sales estimates from major retailers and mail-order companies. In the comparable periods, retailers sold more than 200,000 copies of Windows ME and about 400,000 copies of Windows 98, according to Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD Intelect.

Along with retail sales of Windows XP, sales of new PCs and compatible devices such as MP3 players and digital cameras have also increased, NPD Intelect's research showed. Similarly, software sales rose more than 50% in the week following the launch of Windows XP.

Microsoft and its industry partners didn't reveal exact figures for PC sales and other hardware since Oct. 25. Sales of Hewlett-Packard Co. machines loaded with Windows XP have been "encouraging," Rob Wait, HP's worldwide business manager, said in a statement Thursday.

With PC sales declining to new lows, according to market research, and a continued decrease in corporate spending, some analysts offered dismal expectations for Windows XP sales and income in the overall PC industry.

Stamford, Conn.-based research firm Gartner Inc. issued a report following the launch of Windows XP that said a substantial number of corporate users would start adopting the new operating system sometime in 2004. Home users are expected to upgrade to the new operating system next year. Even Microsoft has set a low bar for Windows XP, with company officials saying they don't expect sales to pick up until the PC market rebounds.

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