IDC cuts PC forecast on Vista delay

Microsoft's decision to push Vista launch to 2007 will affect PC shipments, but upgrade programs could help mitigate damage.

PC companies will feel a small amount of pain this year from the delay of Microsoft's Vista operating system, according to a new forecast from IDC.

Worldwide PC shipment growth is expected to be 10.5 percent, down slightly from expectations of 10.6 percent outlined by IDC in November. This is coming off stronger-than-expected growth of 15.9 percent in 2005. The slowdown will be more pronounced in the U.S., as overall growth slows from 9.6 percent in 2005 to 6.8 percent in 2006, the research firm said Monday.

Microsoft's decision to delay the launch date of Windows Vista from late 2006 to early 2007 will have a moderate impact on the fourth quarter, but other factors, including a weakness in the component market, will help reduce sales expectations, said Richard Shim, an IDC analyst.

PC companies are expected to offer free or inexpensive Vista upgrade programs during the fourth-quarter holiday season in an attempt to preserve the traditionally strong quarter, Shim said.

"We'll have to see how those programs do," Shim said. "Those have traditionally been somewhat difficult and a headache (for PC vendors); it means more support calls and technical calls."

People who need a PC during the fourth quarter will likely buy it without regard for Vista, Shim said. "I don't think the majority of consumers are waiting for Vista; there's nothing must-have about it," he said.

Corporate PC customers aren't expected to upgrade to Vista until they have completed extensive testing and qualification programs. As a result, corporate PC growth will fall to 9 percent worldwide and just 4.9 percent in the U.S. during 2006, IDC said. Consumers will continue to fuel the overall market by buying notebook PCs instead of desktops, Shim said.

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