Will Poole, the head of Microsofts Windows client business, made these bold predictions here at the annual Microsoft worldwide partner conference in his keynote Monday morning.
Poole said Microsoft expects the demand to come from enterprises in developed countries, all sizes of companies in developing markets and from OEMs that tailor Windows for specific markets.
Many industry watchers have talked about the Windows desktop market as being a saturated one, with little potential for the huge unit and revenue growth of the past. But thats not the picture Microsofts painting.
"PC replacements are at the top of what IT will be spending on this year," Poole predicted.
According to Microsofts figures, 35 percent of enterprises are still running Windows 9X-based versions of Windows (like Windows 98 and Windows Millennium Edition) and/or NT Workstation. These users are ripe for upgrades, Poole said.
Microsoft has been making a concerted effort to develop cut-rate Windows bundles for overseas users. The Thai version of the bundle is known as "XP Starter Kit." Microsoft is selling a similar bundle in Malaysia and has hinted that more are on the way.
To help partners push Windows out to these companies, Microsoft is updating its Desktop Deployment initiative, which it introduced last year. It is rolling out two new collections of blueprints, methodologies and tools—called "Solution Accelerators," in Microsoft parlance—to help partners set up and configure Windows XP systems for customers in minutes per machine, instead of hours.
Microsofts demonstration of the "Zero Touch" version of its Windows XP deployment tool drew resounding applause from keynote attendees.
"We need to overcome this legacy good enough perception," Poole said, whereby users running older operating-system releases dont see a compelling reason to upgrade.