Vista on the Horizon...A distant Horizon

The big, breaking business news of the day is that Microsoft is delaying the much anticipated Windows Vista until 2007. This successor to Windows XP was expected to ship later this year but has been pushed back.

Naturally, the Microsoft haters are having a field day (see the Talk Back section). They do anytime something remotely negative happens with Microsoft.

Actually, I'm okay with the decision.

Developing a new operating system is complex and time consuming. Microsoft is putting together software that will run and work with hundreds of thousands of hardware combination, and even more combinations of software. Plus, everything they develop is under constant, detailed scrutiny by analysts, competitors, and most intensely -- hackers. They are expected to be near perfect. And if they are not perfect, they will be vilified.

It's more important that they get it right than that get it out on time. If the delay helps them build a better product, that's better for the consumers and the nation's IT infrastructure.

Microsoft cites testing as the reason for the delay:
Microsoft's Allchin announced the postponement Tuesday, saying quality-related
testing for the new PC operating system would take it longer than expected,
missing the holiday distribution schedules of some PC makers and retailers.

Others in the industry are not pleased. CompUSA expects it to hurt holiday sales.

And the chief executive of CompUSA Inc., Larry Mondry, expressed concern in an
interview about the possible effects of Microsoft's January release plans. PC sales tend to wane in the two months before a new Windows version, as people hold off on PC purchases in anticipation of getting computers with the updated operating system.
Under Microsoft's new schedule, that advance lull would come at the peak shopping season. If Microsoft can't deliver Windows Vista before the 2006 holidays, Mondry said, he would rather the company wait until somewhat later in 2007 than it's currently planning.
"We're probably going to have a significant uptick in business when it comes out," Mondry said of Vista. "The problem is, frankly, if it comes out in January, that means those 60 preceding days are in November and December. Kind of important months from my perspective."
Mondry said he hopes Microsoft will revisit the issue and adjust the release schedule again to "come up with a better date," slightly later in 2007.

As I recall, Intel did this once, too. Remember the late-90s Intel commercials? The featured technicians in a boring clean room wearing boring white sterile clean room suits. Then to emphasize the multimedia benefits of MMX technology, they brought in people in multi-colored, iridiscent clean room suits, dancing around to music, while the injected new life and capability into the processor. Thus MMX was born.

Of course, they released the MMX processors in January of 1997 and completely missed the 2006 holiday sales season. I recall this being a fairly big deal at the time when I worked for CompUSA.

Of course at that time, computers were still a lot more costly, and not as many people were buying them for Christmas.

Regardless, I want Microsoft to get Vista right. If it takes a couple months, so be it.

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