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Gartner: More Windows Vista delays

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Microsoft and Gartner are squabbling again, this time after the analyst predicted yet another delay to Microsoft's already late-running Windows Vista operating system.

According to Gartner, Windows Vista is unlikely to ship before the second quarter of 2007, pegging it for launch in April next year, with "broad availability" not expected until at least the second quarter. For good measure, the analyst firm noted that Microsoft "consistently misses target dates for major operating system releases". Microsoft must be thanking Gartner for that little reminder.

Microsoft earlier this year pushed back Windows Vista from an expected blockbuster fourth-quarter launch event, opting for a staged delivery that means consumer availability in the first quarter, January 2007, while users on Microsoft's volume licensing agreements get Windows Vista in November.

Any delay would be especially embarrassing to Microsoft, which re-organized in March with news of the split delivery and put Office chief Steven Sinofsky in charge of Windows and the Windows Live Group, to finally kick Windows Vista out the door.

A Microsoft spokesperson said the company "respectfully disagreed" with Gartner's view, and re-stated the party line that Windows Vista would ship in November and January with a second beta due in the second quarter of this year.

Gartner and Microsoft have been scrapping over Windows Vista for some time. The analyst first said Windows Vista could slip into 2007 way back when Microsoft insisted things were on track for a 2004 launch, and has advised customers to hold off installation of the operating system until 2008.

The devil - as ever - appears to lie in the details. Microsoft may well hit its revised delivery dates in November and January, but that would mean that it has won the marathon to deliver Windows Vista on a technicality only. The acid test of delivery is volume availability online, in the channel, and on business and consumers' PCs. That means while Gartner could be correct to say Windows Vista will be further "delayed," whether that qualifies as a classic missed delivery date in the traditional Microsoft definition of the phrase, though, remains to be seen.

Andrew Orlowski adds: "2003 is the next major milestone for us in terms of the Windows release," Bill Gates told the Microsoft Professional Developer Conference back in 2001. For a full, grisly timeline of Longhorn and Vista delays, click here. ®

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