As Mary Jo Foleys reporting reveals, theres renewed doubt as to whether Microsoft can manage to ship Vista—the companys long-delayed Windows client refresh—in time to make the product available for corporate customers before the start of 2007.
I havent yet run the Vista build that Microsoft will release this week at WinHEC and brand Beta 2. But unless Vista has regressed from its state since the last time I looked at it, in March, I dont see any reason why Microsoft shouldnt be able to tighten up the operating system quickly enough to ship "on time."
Granted, my recollections of the beta process that took us from "Whistler" to Windows XP are (sad to say) relatively distant at this point, but the string of preview builds that Microsoft shipped at the time seem to have moved along at a similar clip as the Vista builds.
Also, as everybodys well-aware at this point, the Vista well see several months from now is quite a bit more modest than the one dimly outlined at Microsofts 2003 Professional Developers Conference.
WinFS is the most popularly called-out Vista feature removal, but there was a time when "Longhorn" was to include much more ambitious pieces as well, such as the Next-Generation Secure Computing Base.
Microsofts development process does appear to be in need of a serious overhaul: Windows is enormous, and its not modular enough for any organization, even one as large as Microsoft, to manage that complexity nimbly.
The bottom line: As long as the client applications on which most enterprises rely are made only for Windows—and enterprises dont demand anything else—lackluster execution is more than good enough to maintain a hold on the worlds desktops.
—Senior Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at email@example.com.