Hasta la Windows Vista, Baby

Microsoft is delaying the release of the consumer version of its next major Windows release, called Vista, into 2007. Granted, the company was already saying second half of 2006, so you could theoretically argue that it’s a difference of a day, but that’s being unduly kind. This is a move from the company’s fiscal second quarter of 2007 to the third, after all.

There are plenty who will say I told you so. Further slippage has, after all, felt more or less inevitable since Microsoft slipped the release of Windows Vista Beta 2 from last December into the early part of this year.

Either way, here’s my question: Why now? What happened between last week (when Steve Ballmer was still saying Vista was second half) and this week when it magically isn’t?

[Update] There is some on-target and direct stuff on the subject from the MSFT insiders over at Mini-Microsoft.


  1. Michael Robinson says:

    In fairness, the claimed issue–holiday-season channel lag–is legitimate. Their part of the work will be done in the second half of the year (so they claim), but the distribution channel simply isn’t going to retool its entire product offering between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
    So, the real question is what difference, if any, will there be between what they now plan to release to channel, and what consumers get in the box in January.
    But all these technicalities are dwarfed by the fact that Vista has been a phenomenal execution failure for Microsoft. All the innovation tossed overboard to deliver product three years late:
    And so far, a collective shrug from the beta reviewers.

  2. They code like it’s 1980. Even Microsoft has to finally acknowledge those methods don’t scale. Now they are stuck.

  3. Michael — I wish I were so sanguine. I find Microsoft’s proffered excuses for this latest delay in Windows Vista — an inability to stock the channel during Christmas selling season, and a newfound fondness for security — specious to the point of laughable. As I said during my CNBC appearance earlier today, Microsoft is the first company I have ever seen to attempt to make a virtue out of missing being available in consumer markets over Chistmas.
    Like Max, I think Microsoft is pushing up against laws of coding nature, and the result is continuing unpredictability — even at this late date — in the behavior of the Vista code base. After all, Vista is built on tottering and monolithic code foundations, to the point that most attempts at major Vista product innovations were abandoned along the path to the current silly state. It should be no surprise that Microsoft can’t even satisfy itself with the product’s current internal behavior.

  4. Michael Robinson says:

    Oh, I’m not being sanguine. I think they’re clearly trying to weasel out on a face-saving technicality. I’m just pointing out that it’s not necessarily “unduly kind” to grant them their face-saving technicality within the broader context of their overarching failure to deliver.
    As Max rightly points out, Microsoft has grown so fat on monopoly rent that they’ve lost the ability to ship code competitively. I fully believe that the release of Vista will be a watershed for Microsoft, the point that people in the future will look back on and say, “that’s when it all started to go downhill”.
    By the end of 2007, Microsoft is going to be very vulnerable to Ubuntu, OpenOffice.org, and CrossOver. They’re trapped. They can’t move back, forward, or sideways.
    One thing that I find particularly ironic: Developers have been badly burned by Microsoft on IE brokenness over the years. It wasn’t until Firefox became a credible threat that Microsoft made any move at all to address the vocal, pained, and longstanding complaints. The hard-learned moral of the story for developers: don’t trust Microsoft with any client technology where they don’t have a competitive threat to keeep them honest.
    And what is the one big product differentiator for Vista from the standpoint of application developers? WPF (née Avalon), a client technology from Microsoft where they don’t have a competitive threat to keep them honest.

  5. Gavin I McLeod says:

    The reason for the delay is because the retail guys can’t be sure they be able to QA, and distribute in time. Enterprises can simply take the disk. Companies like Best Buy and HP (the two companies mentioned in the press release) clearly need assurances regaridng the lead time they have between RTM and the holiday season. I don’t think MSFT can promise this. And since MSFT doesn’t want Dell (who doesn’t have to worry about building channel inventory)to sell ahead of HP, everyone waits. Internally (through friends) I’m not hearing that the dates have moved.

  6. Great title. I can just picture Arnold saying it to Ballmer.