Speaking to the press in Munich, Germany yesterday as part of a multi-city tour to promote his company's upcoming products, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that Windows 7 would provide just a small bump to PC sales.

"There will be a surge of PC \[sales when Windows 7 first ships\] but it will probably not be huge," he said.

Windows 7 will officially begin shipping on new PCs and at retail beginning October 22, but Microsoft has been rolling out the new system to various customer groups over the past month as well. That may partially explain why there won't be a huge day one jump in PC sales.

But the economy factors in as well. According to Mr. Ballmer, the tech sector will start growing again soon, but growth will be slow and measured for the foreseeable future. Where Windows 7 could have the biggest impact is with businesses that have held off on OS upgrades for several years. These businesses are still running on the aging Windows XP.

Still, Windows 7 has met with almost universal praise. And that is enough to separate it, in dramatic fashion, from its Windows Vista predecessor.

As for Mr. Ballmer, his European non-vacation continues today in The Netherlands, where he'll provide the opening keynote for a launch event in The Hague. (I'm presenting a session about Windows 7 there as well.)

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