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Ballmer Says Windows 7 Sales Booming

Microsoft spent much of this week sharing its vision of the cloud computing future with developers, but CEO Steve Ballmer wants people to know that Windows 7 sales are chugging along at a record pace.

"We've already sold twice as many units of Windows 7 as any other OS we've ever launched in a comparable time period," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said Thursday during Microsoft's annual shareholder meeting. "So we're really off to quite a fantastic start with the Windows 7 product."

Ballmer suggested that the "fantastic" reception Windows 7 has had is the logical result of its high quality. "Windows 7 is simply the best PC OS that we or anyone else has ever built," Ballmer told shareholders.

Windows 7 has already captured the attention of customers that have been sitting on the sidelines by sticking with Windows XP. "All our customers who stayed away from Vista are now asking us about Windows 7," said Todd Swank, vice president of marketing at Nor-Tech, a Burnsville, Minn.-based system builder.

Recent research also attests to Windows 7's solid debut. According to the NPD Group, unit sales of Windows 7 were 234 percent higher than Vista during the first few days of release for both operating systems, and Windows 7 generated 82 percent more revenue than Vista during the period. Net Applications earlier this month put Windows 7's market share at 4 percent, easily surpassing Vista's sales during the corresponding time frame.

Microsoft has also received praise from solution providers for releasing the Windows 7 beta and release candidate well in advance of the launch, something it did not do with Vista. According to VARs, this has gone a long way toward repairing the damage caused by the Vista debacle.

Given the large portion of the IT industry that is still using Windows XP, the early Windows 7 sales spike shouldn't be surprising. But while Windows 7 has been a bright spot in what has been a tough year for Microsoft, the software giant is relying on consumers and businesses to start spending money again, which is by no means a sure bet. This holiday season will have to be strong in order for Windows 7 sales to meet expectations and balance weakness in other areas of its business.

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