Channel sentiments are split over news that Microsoft will not be able to place its new Windows Vista operating system on desktop and notebook PCs until after the lucrative Christmas season.
Distributors and resellers with an interest in the consumer market are facing off against those specialising in corporate sales which are expected to be less affected by the delay.
Microsoft announced last week that the client version of Vista wouldn't be available until January. However, the operating system would be available to business partners via its volume licensing program from November.
"I know a lot of customers were already holding off buying a Media Centre PC so they could wait for Vista [which has Media Centre functionality]," Pioneer Computers Australia managing director, Jeff Li, said. "Now they are despondent about a further delay."
To keep PC sales moving throughout the rest of 2006, Li said Pioneer would offer Microsoft Office on new PCs for a 60-day free trial. After this trial, users could purchase the software, he said.
Bluechip IT managing director, Johnson Hsiung, concurred with Li's outlook and painted an even bleaker scene.
"Everyone was expecting Vista before Christmas and that would have definitely helped with hardware and peripheral sales, such as video cards," he said. "It's a bit too far away to speculate, but I'd say our sales will be down by 30 per cent at Christmas because of this."
While he disagreed the delay could cut as much as 30 per cent from the bottom line, Altech national sales manager, Kevin Hartin, said it would still see PC users vote with their wallets. End-of-year sales could be affected by upto 15 per cent as a result.
"We are disappointed. We haven't seen a product so widely anticipated as Vista and we were looking forward to getting everything in order for what we were anticipating as an October release," he said. "It will definitely dampen PC sales into Christmas and that's traditionally a good time for us."
Optima product marketing manager, Ole Mortensen, said it would be less affected by the delay because of its mix of retail and corporate business.
"From our point of view, the delay is more of a retail concern than a corporate one," he said. "We do have a retail business, but I'm not too concerned because we're mostly government and we didn't anticipate government jumping on the launch date anyway."
Despite that, Mortensen said the shipping delay was still a "lost opportunity" for the industry as a whole and that Vista wouldn't have the same impact with a proposed January launch.
"It's a bit of a bummer that we won't see it until 2007. And January's a really boring time in the industry, too, so you almost hope it would be delayed another month until February when things start to pick up," Mortensen said.
Volante product manager, Shane Taylor, said the delay of a few months was negligible.
"A new product generates new business in the marketplace, but I don't think [the delay] will have a substantial effect on purchasing decisions," Taylor said. "Vista isn't like going from DOS to Windows for the first time. It's not a significant change."