Microsoft can take heart from a new report, issued on Nov. 5 by research company NPD Group, suggesting that U.S. sales of Windows 7 boxed software have exceeded those of Windows Vista in the corresponding time period.
Specifically, NPD Group cites 234 percent higher sales for Windows 7 during the two operating systems' respective first days of release.
"Microsoft's program of early low-cost presales, high-visibility marketing and aggressive deals helped make the Windows 7 software launch successful," Stephen Baker, an analyst at NPD Group, said in a statement accompanying the figures. "In a slow environment for packaged software, Windows 7 brought a large number of customers into the software aisles."
But those low-cost presales, paired with steep discounts to certain market segments, may have weighed down Microsoft's gross revenue from the Windows 7 release, which was 82 percent higher than for Vista. During the week ending on Oct. 24, the top-selling version of Windows 7 was the Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade, with an average retail price of $76.
The Windows 7 rollout also sparked a short-term rise in PC sales, which were up 95 percent over the week prior to the release. However, that was weaker than the 170-percent bump in PC sales that accompanied the Vista launch.
"Vista had a slight advantage at launch, as January traditionally has a bigger sales footprint than October," Baker said in his statement. "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."
As reported in the Wall Street Journal on Nov. 5, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told a press event in Tokyo that sales of Windows 7, which launched in New York on Oct. 22, had been "fantastic."
A recent report by statistics company Net Applications suggested that Windows 7's share of the overall PC market was on the rise, surpassing 3 percent by Nov. 1-a gain of 84 percent since the release date. According to Net Applications, Microsoft's various operating systems hold about 92.52 percent of the market, with that number representing a slight decline from 93.06 percent in August.
In order to counter its declining revenue trend throughout 2009, Microsoft has been pulling out all stops to promote Windows 7. In addition to online and traditional advertising, Redmond has been pushing discounts for the operating system, frequently in conjunction with its PC manufacturing partners.