Win95 or Windows NT, Microsoft has carved out another huge market
by Alan Zisman (c) 1996 First published
in Business in
Vancouver , Issue #327 January 30, 1996 High Tech
95 is selling well: it's currently number one in PC Magazine's
sales charts. By the end of 1995, close to 10 million new computers
had been sold with Windows 95 pre-installed, with another four million
or so upgrade packages sold. According to the Wall Street Journal,
there are half as many computers running Windows 95, less than six
months after its launch, as there are Macintoshes, more than 10 years
after Mac's debut.
that's a sales slump: some had predicted 30 million units sold by
the end of '95, for example. And then there's the trickle-down
software companies had postponed new releases in late 1994 and the
first half of 1995, waiting for Win95's release, so software sales
during this period were relatively slow. Still, many of the companies
releasing Windows 95-compatible versions in the second half of the
year have been disappointed. Utilities vendor Symantec and
Canadian graphics company Corel, for example, have
found sales of their Windows 95 versions lower than anticipated, and
posted losses for the period.
that has sold well, however, is Microsoft's upgrade to Office,
its suite of word processor, spreadsheet and more, which currently
owns 80 per cent of the market for such suites.
effect: many had anticipated strong demand for random-access memory
(RAM) caused by users upgrading their systems for Windows 95, but
fewer did this than expected, and RAM prices have taken a tumble for
the first time in about two years.
to Win95 have been home or small-business users attracted by some
real improvements, including an easier-to-use interface, better
support (Plug 'n Play), an end to the memory-resource problems that
limited multitasking with older Windows versions, and the arrival
of the long filenames that Macintosh users take for granted.
a study by International Data Corporation, which concluded
that Windows 95 users were more productive than either Macintosh or
OS/2 users, carrying out a range of common tasks with both more speed
and more accuracy. Both Apple and IBM have been quick
to jump on the study's methodology and question its results.
businesses, to a
large extent, have resisted calls to upgrade, understandably
in the face of a new operating system that may or may not be compatible
with their existing investment in hardware, software and employee
training. Network administrators, in particular, tend to fear making
their already complex systems more complicated by having some users
on Win95 while others remain with older versions of DOS and Windows.
more confident of using the second version: they're waiting while
Microsoft tests what is code-named Memphis--reportedly minor bug-fixes
and enhancements of Win95--for possible release later this year.
however, claims to have no plans for major changes until at least
hard look at Microsoft's high-end Windows NT. If they need to upgrade
their hardware for Windows 95 anyway, they reason, they may as well
go all the way and get the industrial-strength stability and security
built into NT. And with a future upgrade of NT expected to include
an easier-to-use Win95-style interface, that becomes a more attractive
alternative. It is estimated that the network-server version of NT
is currently selling 30,000 copies per month.
of major manufacturers,
including Compaq, Dell, and IBM have announced plans
to pre-install NT on new, high-end hardware. And fully 32-bit NT will
perform at full speed on Intel's new high-end Pentium Pro
which run Windows 95 at the speed of older, less-expensive hardware.
interest in NT results in Microsoft competing with itself for
dollars. But whether businesses upgrade to Windows 95 now, wait for
the next version, or make plans to migrate to Windows NT, Microsoft
still looks likely to retain its hold over the operating systems used
on the vast majority of our personal computers.