In a recent PC revenue report, analysts for the research firm said they do not think Vista's release in early 2007 will do anything significant to affect the growth of PC sales, which they expect to be up 10.5% in 2006, over 2005.
"While we think the [Vista] marketing campaign will attract people, we don't see enough there to attract a mass movement or a big growth spurt," said George Shiffler, a Gartner research director. "We don't think it will encourage enough people to replace [their PCs] right then and there."
Moreover, he said PCs in general are not at the top of consumers' minds, particularly with the approaching Christmas holiday shopping season. Other consumer electronics may be a bigger lure, especially since Vista will fail to make its originally promised appearance on PCs before the holidays.
"There are lots of things people can spend their money on," Shiffler said. "What are PCs going to have going for them? Vista's not going to be out."
Microsoft originally promised to have Windows Vista on PCs by November, but in March pushed back its release to consumers until January 2007. Some analysts predict the OS will be out later than that, though online retailer Amazon.com Inc. has 30 January 2007, as Vista's availability date in listings for presales of the OS.
In lieu of Vista, Microsoft said Thursday it will have a new consumer electronics product on retail shelves in time for the holidays: its Zune digital music player. The product will allow users not only to play music, photos and videos on a three-inch screen, but also allow them to share files with friends via a wireless connection. This is unlike Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod, with which it is designed to compete. It also differs from the iPod by offering an FM radio tuner.
In addition to the Zune player, Microsoft also will offer the Zune Marketplace, an iTunes-like service where users can purchase music tracks, and accessory packs for using the Zune player at home or in automobiles.