Yesterday’s announcement by Microsoft that Vista was slipping into 2007 continues to reverberate. Here’s a selection of reactions:
Paul Thurrott has the buzz on the underlying schedule and the magnitude of the slip:
“My sources now tell me that the company plans to ship Windows Vista to manufacturing on or before October 25, 2006, approximately two months later than the previous shipment schedule. And the next major Windows Vista milestone, the Beta 2 release has been delayed from April to late May 2006.”
Microsoft’s Don Dodge reports that, “The new version of Office, Outlook and Sharepoint are still on target for later this year.” Microsoft’s Ward Ralston says Longhorn Server hasn’t been delayed either.
At Mini-Microsoft, the gadfly anonymous Microsoft blogger says, “Vista 2007. Fire the leadership now!” Speaking of which, Margaret Kane at CNET has a report that Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft’s Senior Vice President of Office, is being brought in to get Vista out the door. (More on Sinofsky at the Wall Street Journal.)
But when all the wailing and gnashing of teeth is done, what’s the effect on the bottom line? Regardless of the Vista date, some Microsoft operating system will go out on almost all new PCs. Despite all the hype, Vista only makes a difference to the extent it impedes or accelerates PC sales. Before this news, it looked like PC sales growth was slowing this year. With this delay, there’s likely to be a significant slowdown in the usually big 4th quarter:
“The Christmas season will be slow,” says analyst David Smith, of market researcher Gartner Inc. “They’re talking a delay of weeks, but, by my estimates, it’s 8 to 10 weeks, and they’re the most important 8 to 10 weeks of the year for retail.”
Already, before the announcement, Gartner had predicted a slowdown in PC sales this year, with growth of 10.7%, compared with 15.5% last year.
That’s really bad news for the hardware manufacturers (and retailers) and isn’t great for Microsoft either as overnight stock trading indicated (,). Is it bad enough that 2006 PC sales might actually decrease? I won’t hazard a guess, but as I mentioned yesterday, the OEMs and Microsoft need to get the marketers on the case to salvage what they can. Finally, looking to the long term, I doubt that this makes any real difference to the Microsoft client operating system franchise.