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Windows 98: The morning after

Keep watching this space -- during the course of the day we'll fill you in on the snippets of Windows 98 reportage as they come in.

[14:12]... So low key was the software's launch that each of CompUSA's 160 stores was offering 10 computers worth $800 for $98 apiece, just to get the customers through the door.

[14:01]... New York Times reviewer writes of the Windows 95 upgrade: "Windows 98 adds duct tape, caulk and pesticide. Switch only if the upgrade offers something specific you need and only if you have a machine that can handle it."

[13:50]... The full irony is starting to hit pundits and analysts. All those column inches dedicated to 'Big Bad Bill versus the US Government' has raised the profile of, and interest in Windows 98 beyond the intended publicity strategy. Despite a dearth of pro-Bill Rolling Stones songs a la Windows 95, Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies Research reckons the Department of Justice dispute "probably made Windows 98 a bigger focus that it would be otherwise."

[13:42]... With ominous metaphor, research firm PC Data pointed out that the lead-up to Windows 98 had caused a slow-down in sales of all other pre-98 software. The retail industry, it said, had had a hard time of it, with punters waiting for newer software and overall sales declining in May by 2 per cent compared to a year previously.

[13:32]... Japanese enthusiasts have been disappointed by the no-show of Windows 98 in nationwide chain T-Zone. Store clerks had to apologise because the much-hyped operating system had yet to arrive through the tradesmen's entrance. Japan's official launch date is July 25, one month after the rest of the world, but many stores have been importing English-language versions to supply their novelty-hungry customers.

[11:26]... Dixons have their own view on numbers - and our comment on queues. "Customers weren't lining Oxford Street at midnight because Dixons didn't do the twelve o'clock thing," said a spokesman. Across the country, however, Dixon-owned PC Worlds, which did open in the night, had clocked up 1,000 sales of Windows 98 products within th first hour. By close of the day, 5,000 units had left PC World shelves across the country, making an average of 250 units per store. At the launch of Windows 95, the spokesman said, the average was only 200, although the world of PCs was considerably smaller back then.

[09:20]... The early numbers are in, but denied from both sides. Around 300,000 people snapped up copies of Windows 98 when the product went on sale at midnight Wednesday, according to Microsoft's director of Windows marketing, Yusuf Mehdi. "It's the best upgrade of Windows we've ever done," he enthused. "Over 300,000 people came into the stores to get a copy" of Windows 98. But it turns out the magic figure was simply the number of people who walked into computer stores after Windows 98 had gone on sale. A company spokesman later said that Mehdi did not mean to indicate that 300,000 people actually bought the product.