Microsoft Falls Down, Goes Boom—Again

Opinion: Can anyone at Microsoft hit a deadline? It's beginning to look like that's mission impossible for Redmond's finest.

Just when I thought Microsoft could trip over its own feet any more this week, Im proven dead wrong.

Now, not only did Microsoft blow its Vista deadline—two years plus and counting—again, now theyve blown the deadline for Office 2007 too!

On the bright side, I guess it will really be Office 2007 now!

Boy, am I funny or what!?

Seriously, what the heck is going on up in Redmond, anyway?

When current Windows boss Jim Allchin was put out to pasture for all intents and purposes while awaiting retirement and current head of Microsoft Office development Steven Sinofsky was put in charge, the idea was that Sinofsky, a strict, schedule-bound manager, could get the trains running on time.

So much for that idea.

A Microsoft representative floated the idea that Microsoft has decided to delay Office 2007.

"Why," you ask? So that Microsoft could coordinate its marketing with Windows Vista for a big January 2007 marketing and sales push.

"There is no slip in schedule, just a change in delivery for the benefit of consumers and retailers," she said.

I know a little bit about retail. My dad was in that business as both the owner of a small chain of stores and as a distributor.

Nobody, but nobody, launches anything except "everything must go" after-Christmas sales in January.

Is it lousy leadership? Some of the Microsoft employees and friends at Mini-Microsoft certainly think thats the case.

The pure rage and venom of Microsofts own over both the "quality" of the companys code and its delays is really quite amazing.

These arent Mac OS and Linux fans pointing out that Vista has real problems. These are the people who want it to work more than just about anyone up to and including some of Microsofts own brass.

And, now, now theres this to top it off.

One theory Ive heard floated for the Office delay by a senior IT executive who keeps a close eye on Microsoft is that Office 2007 is just a layer on top of Vista.

He went on to suggest that in Office 12 XML, the so-called Open XML, all the elements in the format are just invocations of Vista functions, so supporting them in another office suite means emulating Vista.

Therefore, Sinofskys appointment is due to the fact all the stuff he worked on is now down in Vista. My buddy then suggested that we keep a close eye on where Sinofskys programming staff goes.

Its an interesting theory, and Ill be following up on it.

Regardless of the reasons behind this sudden move, though, theres one thing we can be sure of: Microsoft now has two black eyes from this weeks delays. Senior Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been using and writing about operating systems since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way. He can be reached at


Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.