Gartner: Microsoft will delay Vista until mid-2007

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A team of Gartner analysts predicted this week that Microsoft will not meet its current release schedule for the upcoming Vista operating system.

The researchers wrote said Vista will not be released until at least the second quarter of 2007, saying they expect Microsoft to need nine to 12 months after Beta 2 before it can ship. Beta 2 won't likely hit the streets until late May or June, they added.  

"We just don't think they've left themselves enough time to do everything they need to do," said Michael Silver, a co-authors of the Gartner report. "Windows Vista is a major release, it's a really complicated piece of software, and once Beta 2 hits, it exposes the code to a much wider variety of people and a much wider variety of applications. Just looking at past performance and where they are at this point we would suggest that they probably need a little bit more time in that beta."

He said that businesses nursing their Windows 2000 systems along in the hopes of skipping the XP release are most likely to be affected by the delay.

"The issue for them is that while Microsoft will support Windows 2000 until 2010, we're already hearing from our clients that there are already certain software vendors who are not supporting the newest versions of their applications on Windows 2000," Silver said.

Overall, Silver said a delay until mid-year 2007 will not likely hit enterprises too hard. Most of them will take many months after the initial release to test the product before rollout anyway.

"For the most part in large enterprise, we don't expect mainstream deployments until about 18 months after Windows Vista ships," Silver said.

Microsoft's last official announcement regarding Vista's release date occurred in March, when Jim Allchin, co-president for the Platforms & Services Division at Microsoft, told analysts and journalists then that the company was on target to release to volume license versions in late 2006 and all other versions in January 2007.

The Microsoft company line remains true to those release dates.

"We respectfully disagree with Gartner's views around the timing of the final delivery of Windows Vista," a Microsoft spokesperson said. "We remain on track to deliver Windows Vista Beta 2 in the second quarter and to deliver the final product to volume license customers in November 2006 and to other businesses and consumers in January 2007."

When Allchin announced the most recent delay announcement, he said they were tied to quality assurance issues. Some of the quality-related development still needing refinement includes application compatibility, performance and security, he said.

"Security is a big thing," said Allchin. "Safety and security has been a diving factor in this release all along. We know what we need to do to in order to make this system one that people are going to be able to feel safe and secure when they get it."

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