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At the London launch of XP, Ballmer said Microsoft had already received 100,000 pre-orders for the software on the consumer side, and had deployed 150,000 copies to the business community.
Customers already integrating Windows XP Professional into their systems include the banking group HBOS, Scottish Power and Citigroup, which alone has 80,000 desktops.
Users will upgrade to XP because of Microsoft's partners, said Ballmer. "The industry innovation on top of the product is what will eventually overwhelm people," he added.