Is Windows 7 finally halting the Mac migration?

Earnings information released by Microsoft yesterday point to there being a huge resurgence of interest in Windows 7, outpacing consumer interest in Apple's Mac platform. Is this a temporary blip, or is Microsoft back in fighting form?

Earnings information released by Microsoft yesterday point to there being a huge resurgence of interest in Windows 7, outpacing consumer interest in Apple's Mac platform. Is this a temporary blip, or is Microsoft back in fighting form?

Todd Bishop of TechFlash combs through the details:

In the financial data accompanying its earnings release, Microsoft said worldwide Windows consumer licenses grew by more than 35 percent in the recent quarter. By comparison, Apple this week reported an increase of 33 percent in Mac sales over roughly the same time period. That was impressive, too, of course, but Microsoft is growing from a significantly larger base of sales to begin with, making its higher growth rate considerably harder to achieve.

"Of course we're going to outsell them on a unit basis, but on a rate basis, on a market share basis, we actually outgrew Apple Mac in the third quarter worldwide," said Brad Brooks, a Microsoft Windows corporate vice president, referring to the quarter in the context of the Redmond company's fiscal year, ending in June.

Saying that Windows 7 is the catalyst for this reversal of the flow doesn't really tell us much about what's really going on here, and whether Microsoft is merely enjoying a brief honeymoon, or whether something more long term is happening here.

So what's behind these strong sales? Well, there could be several reasons behind this bout of strong sales:

  • First, and most obvious reason, is that we're coming out of a recession, and people once again have enough free cash to do something about that "PC that's starting to look old."
  • Another possible factor is that users are still feeling the recession and are price sensitive, and since PCs are cheaper than Macs, people are going for what they can afford.
  • Upgrade. Upgrade! UPGRADE!!!! Why buy a Mac when you can make your old PC look like a new PC
  • Apple seems to have given up on pushing the Mac like it used to. There hasn't been a fresh "I'm a Mac, and I'm a PC" ad since Windows 7 was launched. Maybe Apple needs to bring back Justin Long ...
  • Perhaps people see Windows 7 is a good OS. Word of mouth and reputation did a lot to cripple Vista, so perhaps the reverse is happening with 7.

I've said before that we can't read too much into the first year sales of Windows 7. With XP running long in the tooth, and Vista being so hated by many, there was a lot of pent-up demand for a new, better, OS. This is clear from the rapid sales and the short time that it's taken Windows 7 to grab 10% of the market share. What will really count is how well Windows 7 does in the long run.

There's still a heck of a lot of XP and Vista users out there who Microsoft needs to convince to make the switch. Microsoft still has a lot of work to do to make Windows 7 a big hit.