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May 24, 2006

Ballmer admits further Vista delay possible

Posted by David Hunter at 10:58 PM ET.

Martyn Williams at PCWorld:

The launch of the consumer version of Windows Vista, Microsoft’s new operating system, could be pushed back past the stated January launch date, Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said today.

The operating system was due to be launched this year but in March the company said it wouldn’t get broad release until January 2007. Ballmer said Wednesday that the planned January launch may slip further based on feedback from a beta release program and the product road-maps of hardware vendors.

“We think we are on track for shipping early in the year. We’ve talked about the month, but we get a chance to critically assess all of the feedback we’ll get from this beta release then confirm or move [the launch date] a few weeks,” he said at a news conference in Tokyo.

So far, the feedback on the latest Vista beta has revealed a plethora of “issues” ([1], [2]), but we’ve been around this topic before and the ship date is really of importance to Microsoft profits only in that it marks the start of the opportunity to upsell Vista and get more milk from the client cash cow. Nonetheless it will still be an embarrassment. Chris Kraeuter at Forbes:

Another delay of a few weeks wouldn’t mean so much to Microsoft, but it would be yet another indication of the unwieldy nature of its software.

Ballmer also introduced another issue:

“The other thing, frankly, which we are discussing with NEC and other hardware partners is when would they really like it–early January, late January, February–so it depends on when the next roll-over, the next turn of the machine cycle will be and that would be the best time to ship it based on beta feedback,” he said.

Frankly, that seems to me to be a red herring. If Microsoft had a firm date for a ship-ready Vista, the OEMs would have no problem planning a rollout to fit and a few weeks would be inconsequential. As it is, everyone is flying by the seat of their pants.

Update 5/25: Reuters:

The release of Microsoft’s Windows Vista is still on track for shipment in January, its chief executive said on Thursday, as speculation about delays in the much-expected new operating system persist.

“I said yesterday Vista was on track to ship in the first part of next year January,” Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said, referring to news reports Wednesday quoting him as saying that shipments could be delayed by a few weeks.

“It’s on track, but we’re going to see what kind of feedback we get from users … and we’re going to work to make sure it’s absolutely a high-quality product. That’s number one,” Ballmer told a news conference at the Seoul Digital Forum.

Same story from Ballmer with slightly different emphasis. For more Ballmer phraseology see this AP report and for more skepticism see this Bloomberg News story.

Filed under Executives, Financial, General Business, Microsoft, OS - Client, Steve Ballmer, Windows Vista

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