Vista Gooses U.S. PC Sales

Market watcher Current Analysis said U.S. PC sales jumped 173% during the week ended Feb. 3, compared with the previous week, and climbed 67% on a year-over-year basis. Microsoft officially launched retail versions of Windows Vista on Jan. 30. A business version has been available since November.

Luxe editions of the new OS outsold the more basic versions, suggesting that the sales spike was driven more by tech savvy early adopters than everyday consumers. "This isn't the kind of technology that's going to cause your average person to run out and buy a new PC," says Roger Kay, analyst and founder of Endpoint Technologies.

Nearly 60% of all desktops sold during the week were loaded with Windows Vista Home Premium, while those with the Home Basic edition accounted for 33% of sales. The split was even more pronounced in the laptop market: 76% of portables sold during the week shipped with Home Premium, while only 16% carried Home Basic, according to Current Analysis.

That's good news for both Microsoft and its retailers and OEMs, as the premium products carry higher sales tags and margins than the basic editions. A spokesman for Sony says sales of its Vaio PCs with Home Premium installed have spiked 10% to 20% at retail outlets that promote Windows Vista. Sony doesn't offer the Home Basic edition.

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The most noticeable difference between the Premium and Basic versions is that Home Premium features Microsoft's new Aero desktop -- a 3D interface that eases navigation by letting users stack and flip through Web pages and folders.

Current Analysis' data is culled from major U.S. retailers Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, Radio Shack, and Staples.