Microsoft Delays Vista Until 2007

UPDATED Microsoft revealed Tuesday afternoon what many had expected for months -- consumer availability of Windows Vista has been delayed until 2007.

While businesses would be able to get their hands on the finished product in November, consumers will not find the operating system on new machines until January. The delay also throws a wrench into the holiday marketing plans of many PC manufacturers this season.

Vista chief Jim Allchin said that the delay resulted from both quality issues, as well as requests from some of its partners. "We're trying to do the responsible thing here," Allchin told reporters in a hastily arranged teleconference.

Rumors had been circulating of a possible 2007 launch since the lackluster public appearance of the current incarnation of Vista, then Longhorn, at WinHEC 2005.

It was the opinion of many, including some notable Windows enthusiasts, that Microsoft was not making considerable progress at the time in Vista development. Some speculated that the company's holiday 2006 timeframe for launch was optimistic if Microsoft wanted to deliver a quality product.

Allchin's comments seemed to reflect those early concerns. "Product quality and a great out-of-box experience have been two of our key drivers for Windows Vista, and we are on track to deliver on both," he assured. "We must optimize for the industry, so we've decided to separate business and consumer availability."

He said the delay had to do with usability issues and ensuring Vista was up to par with Microsoft's security standards.

Allchin would not specify a date for when it would ship code to install on new PCs -- called a "release to manufacturing" -- instead pointing to the January date for consumer availability. Volume licensing customers, however, would get their hands on the code in November.

"We just needed a few more weeks," Allchin said. He said that put their partners in a "bubble" where some would be put at a disadvantage by a later release.

Microsoft's partners did not unanimously welcome the decision for a delay, Allchin admitted. Some said that Microsoft's tight holiday schedule left little room for error.

However, Microsoft says it does not expect a delay to affect PC sales during the holiday quarter. "You can ask the partners what they think," Allchin quipped.

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