Friday, February 29, 2008

Quick Takes: UK Real Estate Update, Consumers Stall, Vista Anyone?

UK Real Estate Update
Real Estate issues are not only a prevalent issue in the U.S., home prices in the United Kingdom fell for the fourth straight month in February, dropping 0.5% from January. Mortgage approval rates remain at the lowest level in nine years as recent rate cuts have not been passed along to mortgage consumers; factors that are likely to cause the continued decline of the housing market.

Similar to the U.S., the U.K. housing boom “powered consumer spending over the past decade”; the decline in real estate prices is likely to cause further consumer economic fallout.

U.K. House Prices Fall in Worst Streak Since 2000

Consumer Spending Stalls
The stall in consumer spending is a likely sign that a recession is in the outlook. Consumer spending accounts for over two-thirds of the economy in the U.S.; the second month of a flat reading is not a positive sign.

Consumer spending stalls in January
Data seen raising new concerns about a possible recession

Who wants this Operating System?

Microsoft plans to cut prices of its Windows Vista operating system with the Service Pack 1 release. Vista has not been well received and still accounts for less than 10% of the installed Windows operating systems. Similar to many others, after experiencing Vista on a PC purchased for my family – my first step was to install Windows XP.

Fortunately, Microsoft will continue to sell Windows XP until June 2008, delaying a forced transition to Vista. Despite hyping the figure of 100 million licenses sold of Vista (many of them uninstalled), and pointing to the strong earnings component related to these sales (many charged for and not used on new pre-purchased systems) – analysts need to start questioning the actual relevance of Vista and if Microsoft will take the necessary measures beyond a price reduction to improve actual uptake.

Microsoft cuts Vista prices to urge upgrades