Windows 7 Sales Brisk? Can't Give it Away

Though Windows 7 is building a reputation as a messiah that will revive the PC industry, when I found myself trying to peddle an extra copy of the new OS, I couldn't give the damn thing away.

There have been stories about how Windows 7 is in high demand. According to

one study, adoption of Windows 7 just 10 days after its launch is where Vista adoption was four months into its launch in '07. Microsoft is reporting that Windows 7 is doing well. Big shocker there.

Slideshow: Windows 7 in Pictures: The Coolest New Hardware

There's lots of noise, but thankfully there are industry analysts to be the voice of reason. In a recent BusinessWeek story, Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa put it best: "People won't buy new PCs for Windows 7. They'll only buy them if they need them."

Well, my own struggle to sell an extra copy of Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade version confirms that notion. It seems people don't really want Windows 7, even at a rather large discount.

[ For complete coverage on Microsoft's new Windows 7 operating system -- including hands-on reviews, video tutorials and advice on enterprise rollouts -- see CIO.com's Windows 7 Bible. ]

How did I end up with an extra copy of Windows 7 Home Premium? Well, I snagged it off Amazon back in late June for $50 as part of Microsoft's pre-order deal. Fast-forward to Oct. 22 in New York City where I was attending the Windows 7 launch event. What did I find in my goodie bag other than a skin-tight Windows 7 t-shirt, a puzzle, a poster and deck of cards? My oh my, it's a free copy of Windows 7 Ultimate signed by Steve Ballmer!

When I got home to Boston, a box containing the Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade version I ordered back in June was waiting for me. But I didn't need it anymore. So I tossed it aside and upgraded my personal Vista latop with my free copy of Ultimate (upgrade was pretty smooth by the way), figuring I could sell Home Premium and make a little pocket money. It'll be a no-brainer, I thought.

Windows 7 Home Premium retail price is currently $120. So I sent out an e-mail to most everyone in my editorial group who work in the office (about 40 people), offering it for $80. I assumed I would sell it in two minutes. But not only were there no offers, no one even responded. I guess I deserved it. The people I work with are really smart, and many like to use Macs.

Eventually, a colleague said he'd take it for $50. But it turns out this person wanted it for his Mac, which was running Windows 7 release candidate version in a virtual environment, and you can't upgrade from a Win 7 RC with Home Premium. Deal off.

Next I tried CraigsList at the same price: $80. Bigger audience, I figured. But it was the same reaction. Exactly one response came in - someone saying he or she would pay $60, who then never got back to me when I responded.

It was dawning on me: It's going to be difficult to sell this thing at all.

I was considering throwing it in a drawer, or maybe just handing to one of the toll collectors on the Mass Pike. But I decided to give my co-workers another try, this time offering it for what I originally paid: $50.

Bingo!

One response (Again, just one) came in from a co-worker with a laptop running Vista that had been crashing lately. I think she liked my new price. Done deal.

So I broke even. But the big yawn from the public says a lot about Windows 7's so-called high demand. Consumers with fairly new Vista laptops that are running well don't have many compelling reasons to do an upgrade to Windows 7, even though it is a fairly easy thing to do. The navigation and interface features of Windows 7 are definitely better than Vista. But are they essential?

For most people, even the slightest risk for data loss or headaches is not worth the upgrade if your Vista PC works well enough. The real Windows 7 uptick will come when consumers with old XP machines throw in the towel and buy a new PC.

But that does nothing for me, the hapless Windows 7 salesman. It would have been nice to make a few greenbacks from my extra copy, but there was not enough demand for my supply. It turns out that after all the hype and Microsoft marketing, Windows 7 ain't such a hot commodity.

Shane O'Neill is a senior writer at CIO.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/smoneill. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter at twitter.com/CIOonline.

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