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Mystery of Microsoft Vista sales stays unanswered

Why are all the other PC barometers down?
Fri Apr 27 2007, 16:23
MICROSOFT REMAINED coy about Vista and Office 2007 sales during its conference call with analysts yesterday evening and didn't go into details of the different SKUs it's shifted.

We know that the hardware vendors aren't pleased as punch with their unit sales. Earlier this week, for example, ATI/AMD said it hadn't had the upgrade boost it expected from the introduction of Vista.

Why the heck has Dell brought back Windows XP, just for starters?

Meanwhile, DRAM manufacturers and CPU manufacturers alike haven't reported surges in sales - so whatever the sales Microsoft reported last night, if we had a clear idea of the Vista SKUs, everyone would have had a far better idea of how well its products are going.

Nor did Microsoft give a comparison of the ramp of Vista to the ramp of Windows XP five years ago, and it's hard to believe that enterprises are doing more than taking out licences so they can evaluate how and when they might migrate to presumably more powerful computers.

alt='myvista'It's also harder than ever now to get a handle of what slice of the pie Windows has in a bill of materials (BOM) chart for a PC - the different SKUs of Vista make that difficult to assess, compounded by the death of droves of system integrators (SIs) since Vista time.

What is clear is that Microsoft has no problems raising prices and has a captive OEM audience somewhat incapable of saying boo to a goose which doesn't always lay a golden egg, like the fabled Windows 95.

A lot of the 65 per cent rise in Microsoft's Q3 revenues was brought forward from the previous quarter and is related to a coupon scheme it funded.

The firm also changed its accounting method so that every time it ships a Vista licence, the revenue accrues in that quarter rather than over a period of time as it did with Windows XP.

So even though on the face of things, Microsoft has indeed done well, the jury remains out on how Vista is selling until we see evidence from a further two or three quarters. In the meantime we'll also have a better idea of how the other Windows barometers, like CPU sales, graphics cards and memory, are performing. The semiconductor firms don't seem to be growing their businesses, just jostling for market share. Microsoft doesn't have that problem, does it? µ

See Also
Microsoft posts great big, fat profits


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