Windows Vista May Be Delayed in Europe

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-09-07 Print this article Print

Updated: Microsoft officials say the EU has been slow in letting the software giant know what it needs so that Windows Vista can ship in Europe.

Windows Vista may not ship in the European Union at the same time that it is released in the United States as a result of possible issues with European competition law, Microsoft acknowledged on Sept. 7.

The problem from Microsofts perspective is that the EU has been slow in letting the software giant know exactly what it needs in order for Windows Vista to ship in Europe.
"We dont know have clear guidance from the Commission about what they think should be included or removed from Vista and todays statements dont provide any further guidance," Microsoft spokesman Guy Esnouf told eWEEK in an interview on Sept. 7.
The matter is further complicated by the fact that a 2004 judgment against Microsoft primarily dealt with Windows Media Player, not with other technologies that have been included in Vista like BitLocker, Windows Security Center and PatchGuard. Can Microsofts BitLocker save us from ourselves? Click here to read more. Microsoft also has the right to challenge any changes the Commission finally decides it wants in Vista if it feels these are not covered by EU competition rules or the 2004 antitrust judgment, which included a record fine of €497 million and an order requiring it to produce a version of Windows without Windows Media Player bundled. Esnouf did acknowledge that companies have the right to make legal challenges going forward, but said that was premature and speculative at this point. "We would welcome hearing from the Commission specifically what their concerns are, so that we could then have a discussion on how to resolve them. We currently just dont know what their concerns are. We have made concrete proposals to them and are waiting to see what happens from here," he said. Microsoft wants to deliver Vista to European customers on time, but understands that it needs to be fully compliant with EU competition law. "I cant speculate about the outcome as we havent heard back from them," Esnouf said. "Over the past 15 months we have provided the European Commission with extensive briefings on Windows Vista and given them copies of the product to review as it has progressed toward commercial release," he said. While the Commission has raised various concerns and notes the complaints made by competitors, Microsoft has made concrete proposals to the Commission to respond to their concerns about the inclusion of various new features last spring and is still waiting for a response, he said. Asked what happens now, Esnouf said Microsoft was waiting to hear back from the Commission, which could take the form of more questions or some type of guidance to help comply with European law. A possible delay of Vista will not only affect Microsoft, but also the thousands of partner businesses whose livelihood depends on selling, installing and maintaining its software products. Esnouf acknowledged as much, saying that "this is a serious issue for the thousands of IT companies in Europe who are building their business plans around Windows Vista, and millions of customers who are eager to use its security and privacy features." Microsoft has also received numerous questions from its European partners who need to know what the regulatory status of Windows Vista is in Europe, he said. Last year, Microsoft confirmed plans to bundle anti-spyware protection into Windows Vista. Click here to read more. The biggest outstanding question is whether the Commission will ask for design changes in Vista. If it does, those changes could result in a shipping delay in Europe. "Once we receive the Commissions response, we will know whether the Commission is seeking additional product design changes that will result in delay in Europe," Esnouf said. But Microsoft is, at this point, still targeting worldwide availability of Windows Vista for corporate customers in November and retail availability in January, he said. Microsoft has also been working with officials from the U.S. Department of Justice to ensure Vista meets the conditions of the final U.S. antitrust judgment against the company. DOJ officials went to Microsoft headquarters in Redmond in February 2005 to begin reviewing Vista. Editors Note: This story was updated to include additional information and comments from Microsoft. Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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