Windows 7 is off to a strong start: Will corporate buyers follow suit?

Microsoft's (MSFT) new Windows 7 operating system has launched with a sales boom. In its first weekend, sales were 234 percent higher than what predecessor Windows Vista racked up, according to retail sales measurement company NPD Group. That's a very strong sign for Microsoft, considering that the holiday sales cycle hasn't kicked in yet and there were no major external catalysts, such as back-to-school sales, to stimulate purchases.

Far more important than consumer sales, however, is whether large and midsize companies decide to buy Windows 7 for their fleets of laptops and desktops. Chances of that happening are very high, although the bulk of those purchases probably won't occur for another 12 months at least. Corporate IT managers always prefer to test-drive software for extended periods and normally wait for Microsoft to release fixes to new software, which usually takes around six months.