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Software and hardware engineers eager for the low down on the Windows roadmap will have to wait a while next year after Microsoft switched its conference schedules.

Microsoft is delaying its Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) and pushing the event back from the traditional April or May spot to sometime in "the Fall".

WinHEC is the place where hardware developers and OEMs spanning servers, PCs, mobile phones, games and peripherals converge to find out what's coming in the wild world of Windows, and also to learn how to make their hardware work with the new - and existing - Microsoft software.

Previous WinHECs saw Microsoft outline its Windows Server roadmap and introduce engineers to Windows Vista.

No reason was given for delaying this seminal event other than "industry feedback". Microsoft, though, has got itself into a product delivery bind. Windows Vista, which will have been on the market for just over a year by next spring, continues to face lagging adoption. Next February, meanwhile, sees yet more delayed Microsoft software hit the market - notably for OEM server partners, Windows Server 2008.

If partners have indeed asked Microsoft to hold off, it will be because they've got enough work on their hands squashing incompatibilities with Windows Vista, while they'll probably be waiting to gauge customer demand for Window Sever 2008 after the sales Microsoft promised with Windows Vista failed to materialize.

With Windows Vista still choking, Microsoft could use the delay to allow a suitable time to elapse before it starts talking up the next "big thing" - Windows 7 (AKA Blackcomb then Vienna), the supposed successor to Windows Vista.®

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