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Japan's Windows 98 sales surge

The surprising sales of the OS have helped lift the personal computer market out of the doldrums.

More than 500,000 copies of Microsoft's Windows 98 operating system (OS) have been sold in Japan in the month since the Japanese-language version made its debut, according to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan's largest business daily.

Microsoft initially forecast it would take at least three months to reach the half-million mark.

The release has helped lift the personal computer market out of the doldrums, raising PC sales by 20-30 percent from a year earlier, the newspaper reported. The first 250,000 packages were sold within two days. Since then, sales have remained strong and steady at Tokyo?s Akihabara electronics district and elsewhere, with activity concentrated on weekends.

Industry analysts attribute the brisk sales to the willingness of Windows 95 users to upgrade their operating systems and recent releases of thin, lightweight notebook PCs, a growing trend.

Experts had not expected Windows 98 to sell as well as it has for a variety of reasons. The software sold 250,000 copies in the United States on its first day and went on to exceed Windows 95 sales for the first two weeks.

Not even upgrade problems for users with older PC systems slowed momentum. Its debut was credited with helping boost June PC purchases by a whopping 37 percent.