No midnight opening for XP debut

Microsoft's XP launch won't stack up next to the hype of 95

Unlike with previous operating system debuts, there’ll be no midnight opening at Pacific Retail or Dick Smith Electronics stores when Windows XP goes on sale on Thursday.

Pacific Retail Auckland-based retail general manager John Milford says the group, which operates Noel Leeming, Computer City, Bond & Bond and Big Byte stores, doesn’t detect the same level of market anticipation as with XP’s forerunners.

"While this software release is a significant step forward, it’s not as big as previous releases," says Milford.

He puts that more down to the state of the retail market than to the product.

"This won’t be a big hyped release; there’ll be no queuing at midnight."

A Microsoft spokesperson confirms the low-key approach to XP in New Zealand.

"We will be having a couple of hands-on demonstrations, one for consumers and one for professionals, in Auckland," says the spokesperson. Wellington users fair no better. They have to wait till October 30 for their launch demonstrations.

Milford says Pacific Retail has been selling the OS preloaded on PCs for about four weeks.

The merchandise manager at Dick Smith Electronics, Tony Paulsen, says the retailer will be giving XP a solid push, with television and print advertising.

"We’ve had a substantial number of orders on our website and that gives us a pretty good indication of the level of activity we can expect in the stores," Paulsen says.

XP comes in a Home Edition and a Professional version. The Home Edition costs $599 ($309 to upgrade) and the Professional version $889 (upgrade $599—all prices include GST).

Milford says those prices "are where we thought they would be".

Paulsen also believes XP is priced right.

Back in 1995, Microsoft paid to use the Rolling Stones song "Start Me Up" and held midnight launch parties at stores right around the world. New Zealand, by virtue of its position relative to the international date line, was first off the mark and celebrated with a launch event at the Ellerslie Racecourse in Auckland that included chainsaw-wielding product managers destroying boxes of Windows 3.1.

Windows XP, however, is likely to be a much tamer affair when it launches on Thursday 25 October.

The Stones are out, with Madonna's "Ray of Light" taking centre stage, though there will be no midnight store openings, little razzle and certainly no dazzle.

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