Research outfit PC Data says that Windows Millennium Edition (WinME) sold 250,000 copies in the US in its first four days on the market. The company also predicts - we think we can see a finger in the wind here - that the product's on track to sell 400,000 in its first month.
Rationally, four days sales data doesn't support any kind of analysis whatsoever. PC Data does report that 75,000 units sold on the first day, so you can just about identify the beginnings of a curve there, but there's not a lot you can predict a whole month's sales from. WinME's lower price and the fairly determined channel push Microsoft mounted around it certainly should have boosted initial sales, but the usual pattern for operating systems sales is for a surge immediately the product comes onto the market, reflecting pent-up demand, then a steep downward plunge as the normal pattern (nobody buys operating systems retail) kicks in.
According to PC Data Win95 and Win98 each sold 600,000 units in their first month, and two million over a six month period. If WinME does come in lower than this you might reckon Microsoft will be disappointed, but the sales numbers should perhaps more properly be compared to those for Win98 SE, which most certainly wasn't a big earner at retail. Both SE and WinME will also have suffered from the annual refresh approach - Win95 and Win98 left users with considerably more time to become receptive to the idea of shelling out for an upgrade.
Nuggets worth bearing in mind while we wait for more extensive WinME sales numbers to come in include the number of copies of Win95 Microsoft aimed to produce prior to its launch (8 million, so actual sales were a lot lower than the company wanted), and PC Data's own report that Win98 sold 250,000 on its first day of sale. Way back then, June 26th 1998, PC Data was predicting Win98 would shift 500,000 in its first weekend. How this turned into 600,000 in its first month we know not... ®