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MS CFO doesn't expect Win2k revenues before mid-2000

Which must mean a very slow rollout, friends...

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Greg Maffei, Microsoft's CFO, cautioned financial analysts yesterday not to expect a spike in revenue when Windows 2000 was delivered. He expected to see a slow build up in demand, with little impact in the current financial year: "Don't expect Windows 2000 income in fiscal 2000 [end of June]," he said. This would seem to suggest that there is a considerable possibility that FY00 ending 30 June could show less revenue than the previous year. In the past, Microsoft has been very quick indeed to recognise Windows revenue before the cash was in the bank or the product in the hands of customers, contrary to its statements on the matter. This happened most notably when Windows 95 was released. So to say that he expected no income before 30 June gives considerable food for thought. Maffei added nothing directly to the official statement that release to manufacturing was expected to be before the end of 1999, and repeated the "wait until ready" mantra. But there is another interpretation for this exceptional conservatism, which was in sharp contrast with his otherwise upbeat mood: it may be that W2K will not start to roll properly until some time considerably later than February, which is where most opinion has it at the moment. What the financial analysts like to call "pre-shipment hesitation" (and what more sage observers call vapour) has been a fact of life for many quarters ("been in that state for some time"). Maffei did not think that this would translate into a sharp upturn when Windows 2000 is released. Apart from the initial introduction of NT, when sales were very poor for a long time, there is a general expectation that Windows 2000 sales will be massive ab initio. For Maffei to dampen this expectation in this way does strengthen the possibility of a considerable further delay. Microsoft would of course claim that customers had asked that something or other be improved. Release candidate 3 is now expected to be ready on 10 November, a week before Comdex. Maffei said that the Data Center version of Windows 2000 is expected 90 to 120 days after the initial Windows 2000 delivery. ®

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