The long-awaited Microsoft Windows 3.1 computer program arrived yesterday in local software stores, where copies were grabbed up by users eager to make their IBM-style computers easier to operate.
"In the first half-hour, we sold six copies," said David Leetham, manager of the Software Etc. store in Hunt Valley. "A lot of people have been waiting a long time."
His store received 37 copies of the program, which is designed to make IBM machines perform more like friendlier Apple computers.
"The phone has been ringing off the hook, and people are standing in line 10 deep," said Tom O'Donnell of Egghead Software in Towson.
Microsoft's launching of the updated Windows escalates its battle with IBM for the PC market.
Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft, the world's biggest maker of software, unveiled the product during the Spring Comdex industry trade show, saying that more than 1 million copies had entered sales channels.
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates introduced Windows 3.1, which will compete with the more powerful International Business Machines Corp. OS/2 2.0 until Microsoft develops a more advanced system, this year.
He predicted that industrywide sales of Windows would reach $3 billion by 1993, double the volume generated since Windows 3.0 was introduced in May 1990.
The first copies of the program have been shipped to large
software stores and individuals who ordered the programs from Microsoft.
Within a few days, the program should be available in smaller stores, said Lance Greenstreet with the Microcomputer Center in Parkville, which has not received the software.
The Windows program is designed to make other computer programs easier to use by eliminating the arcane commands of IBM and IBM-clone computers.
It is listed at $149.95, but it was being sold for about $100.
Owners of earlier versions of Windows can buy the upgrade at about half the price of the new Windows program if they provide the cover pages of the manuals for their earlier versions.
Terry Johnson, manager of Software Etc. in the Gallery said most his customers yesterday were interested in the upgrade.
More than 10 million copies of earlier Windows versions have been sold.