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PC sales jump in Vista's debut week

Retailers experience a big bump following five weeks of slow sales, according to a report.

After five weeks of sluggish PC sales, retailers received a big boost during the first week of Vista's launch, according to a report released Thursday by Current Analysis.

PC unit sales soared 173 percent at U.S. retail stores during the week ended February 3, compared with PC sales in the previous week, according to the report. Current Analysis also noted that during Vista's debut week PC unit sales rose 67 percent compared with the same period a year ago. Computers loaded with Microsoft's new operating system, Vista, made their debut during a midnight celebration January 29, but initial reports found interest paled in comparison with launches of previous versions of Windows.

The report also found that demand was higher for PCs with the more expensive version of the new operating system.

Notebooks loaded with Vista Home Premium accounted for 76 percent of all notebook PC sales, while Vista Home Basic represented only 16 percent, according to the report. It also noted that Vista Home Premium notebooks carried an average sales price of $863, while the Home Basic notebook version had an average sales price of $616.

"Microsoft is pleased with the initial response to Windows Vista," a company representative said in an e-mail.

Analysts note that Vista Home Premium appeals to experienced, middle-of-the-road users--a group that tends to also favor notebooks.

"Vista Basic is for the entry-level computer user, and you don't get a lot of the visual experiences that you do with Vista Premium," said Samir Bhavnani, research director for Current Analysis.

Vista Home Basic does not offer high-end media features or fancy graphics as the more expensive premium version does.

Desktops also experienced a bigger demand for premium versions of Vista, but the gap was not as wide. Vista Home Premium desktops accounted for 59 percent of all desktop PC sales, while Home Basic desktops garnered 33 percent.

The report is based on unit sales from five major retailers: Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, Staples and Radio Shack.

"I felt the first-week numbers were pretty impressive, given this was during Super Bowl week and all the retailers were focused on selling big-screen TVs," Bhavnani said. "This week, a lot of the retailers are focused on Vista."

He also noted that Vista's sales performance six months from now will be far more telling of its success than the first week of sales.