Partner Advocate

It's Happening!

After many delays, Vista sees daylight. You can now get busy.

I had a college roommate who used to scream, "It's happening!" in a panicked sort of voice. He'd perform this little piece of impromptu theater during situations when something was imminent, but the exact date was unpredictable. You probably had to be there to find it funny, but it applies to the Windows Vista release.

I remember covering the "Blackcomb" and then the "Longhorn" clients, and looking at release targets zip past in 2004, 2005 and, very nearly, 2006 in a way reminiscent of the late Douglas Adams' famous quip about deadlines: "I love deadlines. I especially love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."

In fact, this column is a little risky to write. I've got to turn this column in on Nov. 3. The scuttlebut is that the OS will release to manufacturing on Nov. 8 and that it will have its debut party on Nov. 30. But that's after the previously rumored date of Oct. 25 whooshed past because of a bug. [Editor's Note: After RCP went to press, Microsoft released Windows Vista to manufacturing on Nov. 8.]

Still, Vista really does seem to be happening. In the last few days, Microsoft has been spreading launch event dates to the channel. This movement toward RTM and the volume licensing launch in November has caught a lot of the industry flat-footed. While there's a fair amount of momentum among ISVs, even Microsoft's own Worldwide Partner Group isn't quite as far along in training and other partner readiness as they'd like to be.

I'd like to clarify here that I'm not complaining about the delays -- at least the ones in this last year. I think Microsoft took a bold stand to make sure it wasn't shipping buggy software despite the enormous pressure to get the product out by Christmas.

For partners, Vista is mostly an OEM play, and OEMs seem largely devastated by the delays that caused Microsoft to miss an unmissable holiday buying cycle. Meanwhile, analysts and many channel insiders say the days of in-place upgrades of desktop operating systems are largely gone. With new hardware constantly getting less expensive, it's become more economical in many ways to replace systems rather than upgrade them. Vista's heavy system requirements for the Aero interface make that even more true.

Microsoft has improved the deployment capabilities and says that the operating system's stepped-down graphical capabilities for lower-end hardware are one of the most undersung features of this security-focused release. There's some truth there.

However, for most of the industry, this operating system's not going to get rolling until the second quarter of 2007 or later. Even if you haven't started yet, there's still time to get your act together on Vista. But the starting gun has fired.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.