Microsoft's heavyweight championship software, like the prodigious Office suite, doesn't lend itself to predictable ship dates. Today, Microsoft spilled out that Office 2007--originally slated for release in October, and then January to coincide with Vista's ship date--would now ship in "early 2007." The culprit, according to Ina Fried's story, is performance issues:
"Based on internal testing and the beta 2 feedback around product performance, we are revising our development schedule to deliver the 2007 system release by the end of year 2006, with broad general availability in early 2007," a Microsoft representative said in an e-mail. "Feedback on quality and performance will ultimately determine the exact dates."
Microsoft's elephantine software is just not that predictable, with its with millions of lines of codes, thousands of test configurations and need to fit into a PC with at least an 800 MHz processor, 512MB of memory, a 20GB hard drive with 15GB of free space and a CD-ROM drive.
Microsoft will continue to get beat up by the media, investors and users for its date slipping problems. But, shipping software before its time is the ultimate recipe for disaster. Being transparent and keeping the constituencies that care in the loop will at least help dilute some of the frustrations brewing outside of Redmond. In the meantime, those who's frustration has peaked waiting for a new Office can check out the many alternatives, such as OpenOffice.org for a full featured Office competitor and the wide variety of Web-based applications that are sprouting like weeds.