Microsoft bends (a little) on Windows 7 due date

Summary:Given Microsoft's Q3 FY 2009 results announced today, one might think the Redmondians would offer Wall Street and its shareholders a little glimmer of hope. Like a commitment to deliver Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 this calendar year? Nope. Instead, all the powers-that-be did was bend a little.

Microsoft's third-quarter fiscal 2009 earnings are out and they're not good. Company officials are acknowledging soft PC and server sales hit the Windows client and Server and Tools unit, resulting in a decline in net income and diluted earnings per share (down 32 percent and 30 percent, respectively).

Given the numbers, one might think the Redmondians would offer Wall Street and its shareholders a little glimmer of hope. Like a commitment to deliver Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 this calendar year?

Nope. Instead, all the powers-that-be did was bend a little. Now Windows 7 is known as the operating system that will launch some time during Microsoft's fiscal 2010 -- which runs from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010.

That is a slight departure from what the Softies have begrudgingly said up until now. Up until today, Microsoft execs wouldn't say more than Windows 7 would ship three years after Windows Vista general availability, meaning by January 2010. That's despite the fact that just about everyone who has tested and seen Windows 7 believes it will RTM this year -- in time to be preloaded on new holiday PCs. The goal remain unchanged: Under-promise and over-deliver. But the veiled hint is there...

(I did hear from one source of mine recently that November 2009 is the new target delivery date for WIndows 7, but that source wasn't clear if that is a planned launch date or an RTM date. If it's the latter, it's going to be a close call for the holiday 2009 thing.)

The call with Wall Street analysts starts at 5:30 p.m. ET. I'm curious whether the Microsoft brass will mention that the company just put the finishing touches on the Windows 7 Release Candidate (as Neowin reported, build 7100). When I asked Microsoft execs earlier this morning if they'd corroborate Neowin's posting about Windows 7 going to OEM partners and gold Technology Adoption Program (TAP) customers this week, all I got back was a no comment. Microsoft did goof last weekend and post May 5 as the date on which the one and only public RC build will be available to the public.

Today also could have been a good time for Microsoft to discuss publicly its expected-but-so-far-unacknowledged plans to provide customers who buy Vista PCs starting this summer with a free upgrade to Windows 7 when it is available. I'm not holding my breath, but you never know....

More earnings analysis is coming... stay tuned. Meanwhile, check out my ZDNet colleague Larry Dignan's take on Microsoft's numbers. As Dignan notes, Microsoft's Online Systems Business continues to be a bottomless pit.

Topics: Operating Systems, Microsoft, Software, Windows

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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