Customers have been forking out for the more expensive premium version of Vista rather than the basic home version, despite the weightier price tag. However, take-up of the even pricier Windows Vista Ultimate has been slow, suggesting there's a limit to the depth of customers' pockets.

Those are the findings of research company Current Analysis in the first report on the interest in Vista.
Research for the week ending 3 February, which covers the first five days Vista was available to US retail customers, shows sales of PCs with Vista Home Premium pre-installed comprised 70 percent of PC unit sales in the US retail market, while sales of PCs with Vista Home Basic accounted for 22 percent.

However, sales of PCs with the most full-featured and expensive consumer version of Vista, Windows Vista Ultimate, were lacklustre in the first week, accounting for a mere 1.2 percent of PC sales. However, Samir Bhavnani, the Current Analysis research director who wrote the report, said he expects this will eventually change. "You can expect over time that Ultimate will become a bigger part of the overall mix," he said.

The release of Vista boosted overall PC sales, giving the PC market the best week it's had in four years, Bhavnani said. PC unit retail sales increased 173 percent for the week compared to the previous week, and were up 67 percent year over year, according to the report.

Still, if Microsoft had got Vista to market before the busy holiday shopping season in November and December as originally planned, Vista would have had an even more impressive launch, Bhavnani said.

Out of the PC vendors selling hardware that supports Vista, Hewlett-Packard fared the best in the first week, according to the report. HP accounted for a 54 percent share of Vista Home Premium sales and a 53 percent share of Vista Home Basic unit sales. The week prior to the introduction of Vista, HP computers represented 33 percent of all PC sales.

As for the long-term sustainability of Vista PC sales, that remains to be seen, Bhavnani said. "We won't know the answer to the question until we look at the first half of this year relative to the first half of the year last year," he said.

Original story by IDG news service