“If there’s one company that stands to benefit from the delay of Microsoft’s Windows Vista operating system, it’s Apple Computer, analysts said,” Joris Evers and Ina Fried report for CNET News. “While Microsoft has been struggling to release its new operating system, Apple has regularly put out updates for its Mac OS. Moreover, Apple is already strong in areas where Microsoft has promised to deliver key improvements with Vista: security, and features such as video and photo editing and search, analysts said. ‘Apple is the one clear beneficiary of the flip in Vista,’ said Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray. If shoppers are looking for what Vista has been promising, the decision is easy, he said. Before, ‘they would have…had to look at a PC against a Mac. Now they only have one choice, at least for this holiday season, and that’s the Mac.'”

“Microsoft’s loss is Apple’s gain is the consensus among analysts. ‘Apple…should enjoy a less competitive market for another holiday season against an aging Windows offering,’ Richard Farmer, an analyst with Merrill Lynch, wrote in a research note Wednesday,” Evers and Fried report. “The Vista delay is most likely to be felt by those trying to sell into the consumer market, a space Apple knows very well, Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg said. ‘It is a real opportunity for Apple to tout the features of their operating system and, of course, the fact that that operating system is available now.’ Apple shipped 4.5 million Macs in its 2005 fiscal year, which ended last September. That was up 38 percent from 3.3 million units in the earlier year, according to American Technology Research. For the current year, the research outfit predicts that Apple will ship 4.8 million Macs [as the transition to Intel processors takes place], a 5 percent year-on-year increase, Wu said.”

“Apple’s quicker pace has allowed it to get new features into its operating system faster. For example, both Microsoft and Apple talked about the need for improved desktop search at roughly the same time. Apple shipped the feature as part of a Mac OS X 10.4 update last April, while Microsoft’s similar feature won’t show up until Vista, though the company has made a downloadable desktop search add-on available amid competition from Google and others. Many of the new music-handling and photo management tools in Vista are also strikingly similar to features that Apple has either in its OS or in companion products such as iPhoto and iTunes,” Evers and Fried report. Apple “is slated to release Leopard, the next release of OS X, either late this year or early next year. That means it too could conceivably be on new machines before Vista.”

Full article here.

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