Hong Kong consumers were less than enthusiastic about the arrival of Microsoft's Windows XP software on its SAR launch yesterday. Shoppers questioned in two Wan Chai computer malls said they were in no rush to upgrade to the new operating system, which is being pushed by Microsoft as its most significant product development in six years. Windows powers about 90 per cent of the personal computers used in Hong Kong, making it one of the most widely used pieces of software. 'Many people have come to ask about the product, but no one actually bought one,' said Cheng Wai-leung, a salesman at Shiu Shing Computer Products at the Wan Chai Computer Centre. He said customers were cautious about trying XP, despite months of hype surrounding its launch. Instead, more people chose to buy the ME (Millennium Edition) version because its price had fallen more than HK$100 since Microsoft announced the launch of the XP version, Mr Cheng said. A copy of Windows ME, which incorporates some of the features offered in XP, costs HK$1,200 - about half the price of the full professional version of XP. Some retailers said they did not plan to stock XP in the immediate future, even though it was available to them from yesterday. Others said they had ordered XP and not received any copies. Salesmen at Ace Computer and New Vision Technology, two software retailers at Wan Chai's 298 Computer Zone, said the product was not available. 'We made orders to Microsoft but the [software] has not arrived,' said Kelvin Lee, a salesman at Ace Computer. Part of the reason for the lack of enthusiasm may be the rampant piracy of XP that has been going on for several months, with early versions of the operating system being sold illegally. In the same shopping centre where stores were complaining that they could not get software from Microsoft, pirated copies of XP were easy to find. Business Post found a shop selling the yet-to-be-released Chinese language version of Windows XP Professional and the Windows XP Plus expansion package. The Chinese version of XP will not be launched in Hong Kong until next Friday. The two pieces of software were on sale for a total of HK$100, compared with the official prices of HK$1,550 for the upgrade version and HK$2,330 for the standard full version of XP. 'If you forget the right-or-wrong issue, as far as I know the functions of such pirated copies are usually acceptable,' said a salesman at another software company, which does not sell pirated products. Maggie Tse, a saleswoman at Alpha Software, which sells official copies of XP at the Wan Chai Computer Centre, said she was concerned about the situation. 'One foreigner came to our shop and asked about XP products this morning,' Ms Tse said. 'What he asked for was a cheap pirated copy, but not an official one.' A Microsoft Hong Kong official said the company was aware of the piracy situation and had been monitoring illegal sales. She said people who bought the pirated software did so at their own risk, adding that the illegal software often was a copy of early versions and might not even work. 'If you buy it you never know what is inside it,' she said. 'This is not the finalised product.'