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Microsoft: Small businesses start to eye Windows 7

A top Windows executive says more retailers are starting to stock the professional version of the operating system, responding to requests from small businesses.

After eschewing Windows Vista, small businesses are starting to consider moving away from Windows XP, Microsoft Vice President Brad Brooks said in an interview on Tuesday.

"Windows Vista was a generation of the operating system that was passed up by small businesses; they stayed with XP," Brooks said. "We're seeing a lot of trends at retail that are telling us small businesses are starting to come back in the marketplace."

Brooks Microsoft

In particular, Brooks said that office and electronics retailers are starting to stock more PCs with the professional version of Windows 7. "That's a good early indicator for us."

Earlier on Tuesday, Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Peter Klein noted that the company has now sold 90 million licenses of Windows 7, up from the more than 60 million it had sold as of the end of December.

"Windows 7 is growing incredibly fast right now for us," Brooks said, noting that the only electronics category that saw more sales in the holidays than Windows notebooks were flat-panel TVs.

Brooks said that while Microsoft continues its big advertising push for Windows 7, it is also seeing the kind of marketing it can't buy (and hasn't had for a while)--word of mouth.

"We are sitting in a very different position than where we have been in the last three years," he said.