Microsoft, on Tuesday announced that the much-anticipated Windows Vista will not be available to consumers before 2007. Though the finished product will reach businesses by November itself, consumers would not find the operating system on new machines until January. The delay also throws a struggle into the holiday marketing plans of many PC manufacturers this season.
According to Vista chief Jim Allchin, the delay was not only on account of quality matters, but also because of the requests from some of its partners. In a teleconference, Allchin said, “We’re trying to do the responsible thing here.”
It was the opinion of many, including some notable Windows enthusiasts, that Microsoft was not making considerable progress at the time in Vista development. Some considered that the company’s Holiday 2006 timeframe for launch was the apt time if Microsoft wanted to deliver a quality product.
Allchin’s comments seemed to reflect those early concerns. “Product quality and a great out-of-box experience have been two of our key drivers for Windows Vista, and we are on track to deliver on both,” he guaranteed. “We must optimize for the industry, so we’ve decided to separate business and consumer availability.”
He said the delay had to do with usability issues as well as guaranteeing that Vista met Microsoft’s high security standards.
Allchin would not specify a date for when it would ship code to install on new PCs — called a “release to manufacturing” — instead pointing to the January date for consumer availability. Volume licensing customers, however, would get their hands on the code in November.
“We just needed a few more weeks,” Allchin said. He said that put their partners in a “bubble” where some would be put at a disadvantage by a later release.
The decision of the delay as not unanimously received by all Microsoft’s partners, said Allchin. Some said that Microsoft’s tight holiday schedule left little room for error.
However, Microsoft said it did not expect it to affect PC sales during the holiday quarter. “You can ask the partners what they think,” he retorted.
Microsoft plans to conduct a consumer “beta,” or test, of Windows Vista for two million users in the coming quarter.
Shares of Microsoft fell 2.56 percent to $27.03 on the Inet electronic brokerage. In regular Nasdaq trade, the stock fell 15 cents, or less than 1 percent, to close at $27.74.