Microsoft has delayed the consumer launch of Windows Vista until January 2007, raising the prospect of a bleak fourth quarter for PC makers, computer retailers and the software vendors that rely on them.
Microsoft has revealed that its consumer launch of Windows Vista will be delayed.
The company said that it will release Vista to enterprise volume licensees in November, but that uncertainties in the channel mean that new PCs preinstalled with the operating system will not go on sale until next year.
This means that Microsoft and its OEMs will have to pull something pretty special out of the hat to avoid a disappointing fourth quarter, as consumers waiting for the next version of Windows hold back seasonally strong Christmas PC sales.
It’s bad news for PC makers like Dell and HP, for retailers like Best Buy and Gateway, and arguably for some software makers – antivirus vendors perhaps – that traditionally sell well at the PC point-of-sale.
Talking at a press conference, Windows chief Jim Allchin, co-president of Microsoft’s platforms & services division, said a delay of just a few weeks pushed the release into a window in which it would have been hard for all its partners to release in time for the holidays.
After consulting with partners, the decision was made to release the Vista to the consumer market and on new PCs at the same time in January, to avoid confusion switching products in the middle of the holiday season, he indicated.
The reason for the delay in development was not specified beyond quality, though Mr Allchin did say that the company has been doing a lot of usability testing, and that it has been consulting with the hacking community to hone Vista’s security features.
Mr Allchin said he didn’t see a change in the PC forecast, but nobody was buying it. PC makers including Dell, the market leader, had been publicly pinning hopes of a growth spurt in the back half of the year on the back of Vista’s launch.
It’s possible that some kind of upgrade-to-Vista discounting scheme for people who buy PCs over Christmas could encourage more potential buyers to open their wallets before Vista actually hits the shelves. Mr Allchin would not speculate.