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The Rumors Spread -- Has Vista Slipped?

An overzealous Microsoft employee may have inadvertently let the cat out of the bag as to when the company plans to release Windows Vista, when he posted to a Microsoft blog on Monday stating it will come out in November.

If so, that would be a month later than the previous scuttlebutt, which had it pegged at the first week of October.

Microsoft officials could not be reached immediately for comment, but when contacted for the “October” reports, a spokesperson called any attempt to predict delivery dates to be merely “speculation.”

Additionally, “The Official Microsoft Connections Blog” entry, where the employee broke the news, was redacted overnight Monday to state the company’s long-standing boilerplate: “We are targeting to make Windows Vista generally available in the second half of this year, and the exact delivery date will ultimately be determined by the quality of the product.”

Tech insider Mary Jo Foley’s “Microsoft Watch” newsletter and blog was one of the first to report the story on Tuesday.

The new speculation being ground in the rumor mill is that it implies a “change” from an early October roll out to one in November, obviously, raising the possibility of schedule slippage. Although the company insists it is still on target, major changes in the way the company is carrying out the beta test cycle for Vista made last winter may not be bringing the test and verification process to as smooth a close as Microsoft officials had hoped.

Alternatively, it’s also possible that the Microsoft poster had his dates wrong. However, speculation about the release of breakthrough products – especially major software versions from Microsoft – historically plagues the industry. Unfortunately, it can have serious implications for stockholder and industry momentum in the economy.

And the closer that the delivery of Vista gets to Christmas and the end of the year, the less time Microsoft has to move product sales into this calendar year’s IT budgets. With many companies starting new budgets as of the first of the new year, any slowdown in Vista’s perceived momentum could cause ripple effects through many industries.

Additionally, that would leave less time for OEMs to install and test Vista on hardware to fill the channel with in time to make it to store shelves for the all-important Christmas retail push. Indeed, with past major releases, there have been fears that a late delivery could result in broad friction for the economy during the entire Christmas selling season.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.