For better or for worse, Windows Vista is moving full-steam ahead toward a fall release-to-manufacturing and November business availability.
There are plenty of folks who do not believe this to be the case. They say there aren’t enough days left for the company to meet its self-imposed deadline. And even if Microsoft can find enough hours in the day to beat the countdown clock, many industry watchers believe Microsoft’s plan to push Vista out before the end of 2006 is an ill-conceived one. Heck -- even certain individuals who consider themselves (mostly) satisfied Release Candidate (RC1) testers – have said they are doubtful that Microsoft can meet its ambitious goals, since there are still quite a bit of Vista fixes and finishing to do.
The pundits over at the Gartner Group said (yet again) on September 15 that Microsoft is unlikely to launch Vista until May 2007. Gartner’s reasons were all over the map, with analysts citing everything from the European Union, to channel concerns, creating the “potential eventuality of a slip.”
“I am not really confident about their making the ship date,” Michael Cherry, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, told me recently. “I think they will RTM in the first quarter of 2007 with general availability 90 days post RTM.”
Cherry’s logic: “There are only 40 days between now and the last day of October, which I arbitrarily use as the last date they can RTM and still get the bits to volume license customers by end of November, which I believe is the last date possible to make their promise. Forty days is a lifetime if you are a kid waiting for Halloween. It is a blink of the eye if you are trying to stabilize code, get out a RC, and then golden bits. Heck, it probably takes seven to ten days between release and getting a critical mass of installs to know which way the bug list is going to trend.”
But based on conversations I am having with software vendors, testers and other Vista insiders, I would have to say these Microsoft watchers are going to be proven wrong.
I don’t know exactly how they are going to do it, but the Vista team is looking like it will hit the targets for Vista that Microsoft outlined in March of this year. I believe the product is going to be available to business customers in November 2006. And, alongside Office 2007, Vista will launch in January 2007 – most likely on January 30.
(Like the Windows brass, I will add the caveat that discovery of a show-stopping bug could result in yet another Vista slip.)
Wouldn’t a Vista Beta 3 have made for a sturdier and more stable Vista? At this point, I’d say one more delay might not have been a bad idea. But I’m not hearing – at least not at this point -- that there’s another Vista postponement is in the cards.
In fact, I’m betting Vista RTMs next month. Anyone hearing otherwise?