Vista outlook doesn’t seem too bright today

As soon as Microsoft dropped the bombshell that Windows Vista is not going to make it for sales this year, hardware vendors seemed to queue up to announce they supported the decision. HP went so far as to put a comment on Microsoft’s statement announcing the delay. “We strongly support Microsoft’s decision to prioritise quality in determining the schedule for Windows Vista,” said Todd Bradley, HP personal systems group executive vice president.

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By  Peter Branton Published  March 26, 2006

|~|ballmercomment56mbody.jpg|~|Putting a brave face on it? The delayed Vista launch will hit PC firms hard.|~|As soon as Microsoft dropped the bombshell that Windows Vista is not going to make it for sales this year, hardware vendors seemed to queue up to announce they supported the decision. HP went so far as to put a comment on Microsoft’s statement announcing the delay. “We strongly support Microsoft’s decision to prioritise quality in determining the schedule for Windows Vista,” said Todd Bradley, HP personal systems group executive vice president. “A January launch of Windows Vista allows us to execute in a consistent way throughout the holidays, and will provide the right opportunity for a large, exciting launch industrywide after the New Year.” Hands-up who believes him? After the New Year simply isn’t soon enough for thousands, hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of PC buyers worldwide: they want their new machine before the all-important holiday season, or they might just not buy one at all. In the big US and European markets, PC buying patterns are geared up for the fourth quarter, the first quarter of the year is traditionally very weak. The big firms know that if they don’t make sales in the run-up to the holiday period, they almost certainly won’t make them all back after it. Given the nature of the PC market these days, with tight competition and low margins the norm, this news is hardly the best PC makers could have received. Microsoft, of course, has pointed out that it was in a very difficult position. “We’re trying to do the responsible thing here,” Windows chief Jim Allchin told reporters. While not all PC makers wanted the delay, he admitted, others had said they were concerned that they would not be able to ensure a holiday quarter launch if Microsoft had pushed back its development schedule even slightly. So, Microsoft felt that it really had no choice but to push the schedule back. Which all sounds very responsible but the key question has to be why was Microsoft facing this choice in the first place? This is the company’s biggest product launch in years, it is the product line that made the company in the first place, how do you find yourself in such a situation? It is not that Microsoft has been too ambitious with what it wants the OS to do: it has cut back massively on the features and functionality it originally promised for Vista in order to guarantee that it would ship this year. Nor is it down to lack of effort, the company has thrown enormous resources behind Vista. It is certainly not lack of will: Microsoft boss Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer have both publicly stated the importance of Vista to the company. Having done everything it can to get its biggest product out the door at the time it said it would, and then failed to deliver, Microsoft knows that last week’s announcement was about the worst thing it could say to the industry. ||**||

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