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MS looks to XP to reboot industry

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Software giant Microsoft's Windows XP launch may fall short of what is needed to reboot the flagging PC industry, analysts say.

A stricken computer market has pinned its hopes of revival on the new operating system helping to reverse the slow growth in the industry in the wake of a global economic downturn.

After a decade and a half of explosive growth, PC sales have been nearly flat in 2001. Analysts are predicting the trend will continue for several more years.

Although the release of XP is expected to boost computer sales, the jury is out on whether the new upgrade will be enough to lift the PC market out of its worst slump.

Windows XP debut has some competitors worried

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Microsoft CEO on why upgrade will capture the public's imagination

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According to recent research from Gartner Dataquest, global shipments of PCs have fallen for the first time since 1986. The latest Windows version requires more computer memory and a faster processor, forcing businesses and consumers to upgrade their PC or buy a new one.

Andersen IT consultant James Alexander told Reuters: "People need a powerful PC to run XP, which is why PC makers love it."

Although Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has recommended that any PC older than two years be upgraded if people wanted to run XP, analysts question whether the new program is the blockbuster improvement needed to convince corporations to migrate to the new platform.

The launch of XP marks Microsoft's first major product campaign since its still ongoing U.S. antitrust battle.

Windows XP was unveiled in New York and London on Thursday. Across Asia Pacific, XP launched in India, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia on Thursday. It is expected to launch in Taiwan, Philippines and Vietnam next Tuesday and Hong Kong, Indonesia, China and Japan in November.

Asia Pacific sales account for about 20 percent of Microsoft's global revenues.


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