Neither message about Ultimate will come as a surprise to many consumers who paid top dollar in 2007 for Vista Ultimate, then complained when Microsoft didn't deliver on promises for the "Ultimate Extras" feature. Microsoft subsequently discontinued development on Extras, which was to provide Ultimate-only free downloads, and then ditched the concept for Windows 7 Ultimate.
While retail copies did well, PC sales were less impressive. They were higher than any week during the high-volume third quarter, when back-to-school sales dominated, but they weren't as strong as the uptick during Vista's launch, Baker said.
PC sales during the week of Oct. 18-24 were up 49 percent year-over-year, and up 95 percent over the week prior to Windows 7's debut. During the corresponding periods for Vista, however, PC sales were up 68 percent and 170 percent, respectively. Because of the drop in PC prices since 2007, particularly in the new netbook category, Windows-powered PC sales revenues were actually down 6 percent compared to sales during Vista's launch week.
Baker expects Windows 7 hardware sales to improve. "There was a lot of speculation before Windows 7's launch about how many netbooks would be out there with XP," Baker said. "But it looks like the PC makers and Microsoft came to some kind of accommodation, because almost everything [in netbooks] is now running Windows 7 Starter. XP is going to be much smaller as we go into 2010 on netbooks."
Microsoft has characterized early Windows 7 sales as "positive," but has declined to reveal figures, saying that it's too soon to tell exactly how well it's doing. CEO Steve Ballmer, however, crowed that Windows 7 was doing great in Japan. "We've had a great response here in Japan," Ballmer said at a Tokyo news conference on Wednesday. "Certainly, we've seen initial sales be fantastic. The first 10 days were bigger than the first 10 days of XP or Vista or any other Windows launch that we have done."