In its first week on the market, Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system packed a mightier punch than its predecessor Vista.
Unit sales of Windows 7 were 234 percent higher than Vista during the first few days of release for both operating systems, according to The NPD Group.
Windows 7, which was released on Oct. 22, also generated 82 percent more revenue than Vista's first few days on the market.
Windows 7's total revenue for the week of Oct. 18-24, including presales, was impacted by early discounts on pre-sales and a lack of promotional activity for the Windows 7 Ultimate version, according to NPD.
"Microsoft's program of early low-cost pre-sales, high visibility marketing, and aggressive deals helped make the Windows 7 software launch successful," said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD, a Port Washington, N.Y.-based research firm. "In a slow environment for packaged software Windows 7 brought a large number of customers into the software aisles."
Microsoft's success, however, did not translate to its PC partners. Although PC sales by companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Lenovo were up 49 percent in Windows 7's first week, compared to the year-ago quarter, and up 95 percent compared to the previous week, those numbers couldn't match PC growth during Vista's first week.
PC sales during the first week of Vista's launch increased 68 percent compared to the year-ago quarter and 170 percent compared to the preceding week, according to NPD.
Overall, a combination of factors impacted Windows 7 PC sales during its first week, but Baker projects a strong holiday season for PC sales.
"Vista had a slight advantage at launch, as January traditionally has a bigger sales footprint than October. The other hurdle Windows 7 faced was sales of PCs with older operating systems (XP and Vista) were high, making up 20 percent of sales during the Windows 7 launch, compared to just 6 percent of older operating sales during Vista's launch week," Baker said in a statement.
Two weeks earlier, Baker noted that retailers and PC makers had successfully sold off most inventory pre-loaded with Windows Vista to make way for Windows 7 machines.
"[Last month] I happened by a Best Buy store and there was not one single PC for sale with Vista on it. Lots of Windows 7 machines, however, all of which were marked 'not for sale until October 22,' Baker wrote in NPD's blog on Oct. 22. "Someone did a great job in the supply chain making this happen. This will give Win 7 a tremendous boost out of the gate."
Glen Coffield, president of SmartGuys Computers, a system builder with five retail stores headquartered in Lake Mary, Florida, said Windows 7 has provided a much bigger sales kick than Vista. "We have certainly seen an uptick in business," he said.
Coffield said he expects an additional sales jump on the Friday after Thanksgiving. "Consumers have been conditioned to wait until Black Friday and beyond," he said.
The initial success of Windows 7 also could have been helped by heavy discounts on the upgrade price, Baker wrote.
"At their initial introduction I was very critical of MS pricing for Win7 upgrades. Over $100 is far too much to move the population rapidly off of Vista," Baker wrote. "But, I think the initial offer in some of last Sunday's circulars, which offered a Win7 upgrade for just $50 [$70 off] with the purchase of a Win7 PC, is brilliant. It gives incentive to some of that huge XP installed base to do the right thing and upgrade into a new PC while offering them a way to cost-effectively upgrade that companion notebook they have bought in the last two and one-half years which is running Vista."