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Channel not fazed by hasty XP withdrawal

Channel not fazed by hasty XP withdrawal

Microsoft's decision to stop selling direct OEM licences and shrink-wrapped versions of Windows XP at the end of next January has barely raised an eyebrow in the local channel, with many claiming Vista is gaining ground in all customer markets.

The software giant plans to discontinue shipments of XP to direct OEMs on January 31, 2008. Retail licenses will also be cut-off. Editions affected include XP Professional, Tablet PC, Professional x64, Home and Media Center. However, XP licenses across all versions will still be sold through distributors to system builders until January 31, 2009.

Plus Corporation managing director, Nigel Fernandes, said sales of Vista-based machines had spiked over the past three months as people became more familiar with it. This included both consumers and corporate users. While XP represented about 70 per cent of system sales in January, the ratio had now flipped in Vista's favour. "We're happy to get people going over to Vista, and we're definitely seeing more of it," he said. "It's a much easier install for us as a system builder - things like driver support are so much better.

"We have changed most of our machines to Vista. We were a little concerned about the support issue, but customer reaction has been good. There are still some corporates who want XP, but Vista is being more accepted. I think by next year, many people will have moved across." Mass merchant, Harvey Norman, is also reporting steady uptake of Windows Vista. General manager of computers, Rutland Smith, said it was pleased with sales to date.

"It's exceeded our expectations, and it's been very good for driving hardware sales," he said. Smith said sales of the higher-end Vista versions, particularly Ultimate and Home Premium, had been favourites with its customers.

Figures from retail analyst, GfK, illustrate XP's decline. In February, over 2700 copies of XP were sold. This dropped to 1100 in March, and just 182 in the first two weeks of April.

The slowest market sectors to adopt new platforms have traditionally been corporate and government. Data#3 national licensing manager, Brad College, said many of its business customers were starting to evaluate Vista. He predicted discontinuing XP would not have an immediate impact on those users because of their longer-term upgrade paths.

"Customers are certainly looking at Vista now in the corporate and government space. To date, not many have made the decision to migrate, but they are incorporating it into their IT strategies. These extend some years down the track," he said. "If anything, this will make customers look at Vista and evaluate offsetting deployment versus the benefits to their organisation.


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