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Windows 7 may unleash latent PC demand

That Microsoft has confirmed the operating system will be out in time for the holiday shopping season spells relief for PC makers.

Updated at 6:25 p.m. PDT with comments from Hewlett-Packard.

Longstanding latent demand for PCs packing a new version of Windows is set to be unleashed, following Microsoft's nod Monday for a holiday release of Windows 7.

Laptop shipments should get a boost from Windows 7
Laptop shipments should get a boost from Windows 7. Hewlett-Packard

"There's a lot of pent up demand for Windows, particularly in corporate, which by and large passed on Vista," said Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies, a market research firm. "Dell and Lenovo should be relieved."

PC sales ground to a halt in the fourth quarter of 2008, after several years of consistent 15 percent quarterly growth, according to an IDC report issued earlier this year.

Windows 7 could change that. "The holiday timing will, of course, benefit consumer-oriented (PC makers) like HP and Acer," Kay said.

Windows 7 may also slow the migration to Apple's operating system. "Defections to Mac may slow. So, Apple won't be entirely happy," Kay said.

And how big is Windows 7 for hardware makers? "Win7 will have the fastest adoption curve of any new rev since Windows 95...I think you'll see adoption earlier than usual in commercial because the code is so stable. The old adage about waiting for SP1 (Service Pack 1) may not be as relevant this time around," he said.

Intel--whose processors will power the lion's share of Windows 7 PCs--is upbeat. "Our early testing is showing improved battery life for consumer notebooks, so Windows 7 should continue to improve the consumer experience," said Jeff McCrea, vice president of Intel's Consumer PC group, in response to an e-mail query. McCrea added that Intel's processors and chipsets work well with the initial beta version of Windows 7.

Hewlett-Packard is working closely with Microsoft, looking toward Windows 7 upcoming release. "We are working closely with (Microsoft) as they develop Windows 7 to make sure our customers can take full advantage of the latest features," HP spokeswoman Anne Finnie said Monday.

And PC graphics chip suppliers like Nvidia have been finessing their Windows 7 drivers in anticipation of a release of the operating system. "Windows 7 users now have the absolute latest in performance and support," said Dwight Diercks, vice president of software engineering at Nvidia, in a statement, referring to various technologies Nvidia is now supporting in Windows 7.