Microsoft actually is pushing the Vista launch back to January 2007 to appease the marketing gurus as much as the quality grunts.
Jim Allchin, co-president of Microsofts Platforms & Services Division, announced on March 21 during a conference call that Microsoft is now planning to roll out Windows Vista in two stages.
Those with volume licensing agreements will be able to obtain the Vista code necessary to upgrade from older Windows versions to Windows Vista in November 2006.
But everyone else will have to wait until January 2007 to get their hands on the final Vista bits.
Allchin cited overall quality issues, especially around security, drivers and performance, as the reasons behind the delay.
Microsoft will release to manufacturing all of the Windows Vista versions, or SKUs, in 2006, as planned, company officials said.
But the Vista RTM date, which Microsoft declined to specify—but which many company watchers expected to be slated for late summer 2006—will be a few weeks later than the company originally had hoped.
As a result, the rest of the Vista schedule is being pushed back accordingly, Microsoft officials said.
"Volume licensing customers can cycle in [Vista] in a couple of weeks," explained Brad Goldberg, general manager with Microsofts Windows Client Product Management team. But it typically takes PC makers longer to take the final RTM bits, test them and preload them on new machines, Goldberg explained.
The week of March 20, Microsoft was faced with an internal deadline, Goldberg said. Microsoft needed to give its partners a firm commitment on when it would deliver to them the final Vista bits.
"We made the decision this morning [March 21]," Goldberg said. Rather than be sorry, Microsoft decided to play it safe and build some extra time into its testing and bug-fixing schedule, he said.
Allchin acknowledged that some of Microsofts partners were not in favor of the company delaying the actual product launch. But others felt that a Vista rollout in November or December, both of which include a number of holidays, might have less impact than it would if Microsoft waited until a little later.