Partners encourage Microsoft to ease Vista transition

As holiday season approaches, lost sales opportunities concern vendors and retailers

Microsoft Corp. partners are asking the software vendor to do whatever it takes to make the transition to Windows Vista easier, including offering discount coupons for upgrading to Vista to customers who purchase PCs during the busy November-December holiday shopping season.

Microsoft in March delayed the release of consumer versions of Vista until January 2007, meaning it will miss the busy holiday shopping season. This caused concern among hardware vendors and computer retailers that PC sales would be hurt by the delay.

Reports continue to trickle out that Microsoft Corp. is getting close to confirming it will begin offering Vista upgrade coupons later this year. Theoretically, the coupons would allow people who buy Vista-capable PCs before the OS is available to purchase Vista for a discount once it is released.

Barry Crume, director of the Microsoft alliance for Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD), said AMD supports any campaign Microsoft will undertake to navigate the transition from Windows XP to Windows Vista effectively. However, he said the company has stopped short of telling the software vendor what methods it should undertake to do that, contrary to a Bloomberg LP report that said AMD was putting pressure on Microsoft to offer coupons.

"It's not for us to determine ... how they do it," Crume said. "It's really their call." He said AMD is bullish on the idea of offering discounts for customers to upgrade to Vista if they purchase PCs that are capable of running the software before it is available.

Because its processors are included in PCs and laptops that will run Windows Vista, AMD is as concerned as hardware vendors such as Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. that there will be a lag in demand for their products as customers wait for Vista machines to be available, he added.

The Bloomberg report also mentioned as another Microsoft partner that has been pressing the company to make discount coupons available.

While Amazon spokesman Sean Sundwall would not confirm the report, he said his company thinks it's important for Microsoft to make it as easy as possible to purchase Windows Vista, and supports any efforts to do so.

Microsoft has already been working with hardware partners to include labels on PCs and notebook computers so customers will know what versions of the Vista OS they are capable of running. It also has a Web site called "Get Ready" that details the hardware requirements for running different versions of Vista.

Not all PCs will be able to run Vista's higher-end versions because of their enhanced graphics and media capabilities, and it's important for customers to know system requirements for Vista when they are purchasing a new computer they hope will run the new OS.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.