Hang on, Microsoft unleashed a fearsome flurry of Vista back-patting today:
Initial sales figures from Microsoft show its new operating system Windows Vista made a splash in its debut. In the first month of Windows Vista’s general availability, sales exceeded 20 million licenses, more than doubling the initial pace of sales for its predecessor, Windows XP.
Windows Vista license sales after one month of availability have already exceeded the total of Windows XP license sales in the earlier product’s first two months of availability. In January 2002, the company announced sales of Windows XP licenses had exceeded 17 million after two months on the market.
Is that really so fantastic? Let’s do a little arithmetic: since the first month always produces a notorious bulge, a comparison to the first month of XP would better, but all I could find was Chairman Bill talking about the first two weeks of XP:
This evening at COMDEX Fall 2001, Microsoft Corp. founder, Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates underscored the incredible demand for the Microsoft® Windows® XP operating system by announcing that more than 7 million copies of Windows XP have been sold in the two weeks since its global launch.
At a guess, let’s say 5 million for the remaining two weeks of the first month for a total of 12 million first month sales for XP. So Vista sold 67% more copies than XP did during the first month. Then Ina Fried points out the other fly in the ointment:
Of course, the PC market has grown substantially since XP hit store shelves. In 2001, worldwide PC shipments totaled 136 million units, while last year the industry shipped 227 million computers, according to IDC.
Gosh, that’s a 67% increase too and the Vista sales growth can be simply explained by the growth in PC sales. Don’t like my numbers? Feel free to apply your own and don’t forget to account for XP suffering from Windows 2000 Pro competition and late foreign availability, but the real point is that this stuff is meaningless although Microsoft persists in trotting it out. From the same press release with the XP numbers:
Sales of Windows XP by computer manufacturers are over 200 percent higher than sales of Windows 98 in the first month of its availability.
The words are a little different, but it’s sure a familiar tune. However, the fact of the matter is that counting Windows operating system units is very nearly just counting PCs shipped and almost all PCs sold ship with a Microsoft Windows operating system and that will in short order be Windows Vista. The only real question here is how much more per unit will Microsoft be receiving for Vista than XP and Microsoft isn’t issuing press releases on that topic.