Microsoft said sales of its latest desktop operating system, Windows XP, hit 32 million OEM and retail copies as of April.
But those numbers do not reveal whether that number reflects a brand new installation or an upgrade. This distinction is helpful to understand how well the operating system is being received by the public. It's never easy to tell if customers who purchase new systems loaded with XP, are actually using that software.
Of course the challenge for every operating system, especially on the desktop, is the vendor would like to think people will immediately switch over from what they are using to the newest software, said Dan Kusnetzky, vice president of system software research at International Data Corp., a Framingham, Mass., consulting firm.
Usually what happens is that companies continue to use their operating environments over a period of time. "Companies have a configuration that they've tested and trust, and they keep applying it even if it means blowing off software that's on a new machine," Kusnetzky said.
Available for just over six months, Windows XP has been the fastest selling version of Windows so far, according to Microsoft.
Last year, IDC reported that by the end of 2001 XP Home and XP Professional Edition would ship to about 15 million retail and OEM customers. The market research firm also predicted that by the end of 2002, total shipments would reach 60-70 million copies. Kuznetsky noted that IDC's figures closely track Microsoft's data.
According to Microsoft, as of June 5, about 10,000 customers downloaded the first beta version of Service Pack 1 for Windows XP Home Edition and Windows XP Professional. SP1 is due out some time in the fall.
The service pack will include some security fixes, application compatibility updates and some updated drivers. It also adds some security updates that were developed as part of the Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing initiative announced earlier this year.
For the most part, the software has been a success, Kusnetsky said. There have been some complaints about compatibility, security, about new software breaking drivers for older devices, and there are no replacement drivers. It's not such a big deal for a single user who may have to replace one older device, he said, but in a large company, if you have to buy a new device for every person, that's a significant investment.