Windows 2000 has helped ignite PC sales in Western Europe after a sluggish start to the year, according to researcher IDC.
The slowdown in PC buying around the Y2K date change continued into the first two months of this year, according to IDC's latest quarterly PC shipment report.
However, IDC said that sales for March were beginning to show signs of improvement, mainly due to the launch on 17 February of Microsoft's Windows 2000.
Western Europe first quarter year on year growth is expected to hit 10.9 per cent. This compares to year on year growth of 20.3 per cent for the first quarter 1999.
Worldwide shipments are expected to decline nine per cent from the fourth quarter 1999, with unit volume for the first quarter expected to grow to 20 per cent year on year.
John Brown, an analyst at IDC, said: "With Y2K fears largely over and the introduction of Windows 2000, businesses will start picking up the pace of upgrades. IDC expects the commercial market to show more robust growth this year than last, starting with a pickup in demand this quarter."
The company said the key to PC vendor growth this quarter is the consumer and small business sector, and the ability to deliver mobile PCs in volume.
IDC named Dell, Gateway, Hewlett Packard and Apple as companies it believed had the "right stuff" to capitalise on these markets.
Most notably absent from this list was Compaq, which IDC said is still suffering from the legacy of its notebook quality issues and problems from its merger with Digital.
IDC analyst Andy Brown said: "They did have quite a few issues and it has blighted them ever since. However, they are working very hard on this."
He added: "Compaq is up against some serious competition in the notebook space, particularly from IBM, Acer and Toshiba, which has come back very strongly."
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