Will Windows 7 Be a PC Mover?
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No two recessions are the same, and the shakedown hitting the U.S., indeed the global economy, is very different from the one experienced in 2000-2002. That was a powerful combination of the Silicon Valley getting hit directly from the dot-bomb implosion and the overall U.S. economy shattered by the events on September 11, 2001.
This time, the industries hardest hit are banking and housing, and tech has merely been caught in the blast radius. The lack of credit, draconian decisions by credit card issuers and uncertainty about jobs has people keeping their wallets closed and limiting purchases to the essentials.
Vendors are trying their best to get product moving. The PC sector has taken to cutting prices as much as it can without actually losing money. However, customers are still not motivated. PC sales fell to just 1.1 percent year-over-year growth in the fourth quarter.
So, can the release of Windows 7 get PC sales moving again? Even in prerelease form, Windows 7 has done something remarkable; it's generated real, positive excitement on the blogosphere and Web sites for its stability and performance. There is also some anecdotal evidence that lots of people are willing to buy a Windows 7 machine when it debuts.
The clearest statement came this week from Brian Gladden, chief financial officer of Dell (NASDAQ: DELL), on a conference call with analysts to discuss the firm's fourth quarter and fiscal year.
"We're starting to get pretty excited about Windows 7 and think it will be an important catalyst for growth," he told analysts on the call.
Then Gladden said the one thing Microsoft probably doesn't want to hear: "Having said that, it will likely push some purchases back until it comes out."
Analysts interviewed by InternetNews.com are cautiously optimistic the release of Windows 7 can help drive PC sales. The questionable economic situation is a black cloud in everyone's crystal ball, forcing all of them to temper their sentiments.
These sentiments were also impacted by the fact that Microsoft still has not given a release date for Windows 7. It continues to maintain the party line of a January 2010 release date. InternetNews.com has learned otherwise -- that the company internally has set a target date of June 2009. Judging by the solid condition of the beta and numerous accolades heaped on it, that June target seems increasingly likely.
Next page: Outlook: cloudy