If you’re a betting man, Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect has some guidance for you on Windows Vista’s as-of-yet undetermined release date. Speaking in Cape Town, South Africa, Gates said that there is an 80 percent chance that Window Vista will be ready for release in January of 2007. Or if you’re a pessimist, you could call it a 20 percent chance that Vista won’t be ready.
After a series of slips that ultimately pushed the OS years off course, the light finally appeared at the end of the tunnel for the Redmond giant when plans for a late 2006 release started to gel. Yet in March the company announced that it would delay the OS until 2007, taking a tone of penance and promising that this time, they wouldn’t rush things. Jim Allchin, co-president of Microsoft’s Platforms & Services Division, said at the time, "We are trying to do the responsible thing here… Maybe in the past we would have just gone ahead but now we’re not going to do that."
Comments from Gates in South Africa struck a similar note, with Gates promising that the company will look seriously at what they learn from the future Beta 2 release. The Wall Street Journal quoted Gates as saying, "We got to get this absolutely right. If the feedback from the beta tests shows it is not ready for prime time, I’d be glad to delay it."
Gates isn’t the only Big Boss at Microsoft sounding the warning alarms. In May, CEO Steve Ballmer emphasized that timing issues with the company’s partners could contribute to a delay. Gates is now suggesting that technical matters could also contribute to such a delay, which is a bit like pointing out that the sun is bright: serious technical challenges can always introduce last-minute delays. However, the public nature of Gates’ comments suggests that Microsoft is indeed bracing for the possibility of this yet another delay.
At this stage, what remains clear is that we are not likely to hear a formal "shipping" date for several more months, as the beta program drags out. Another beta is expected in the coming months, and that beta will be followed by at least one if not two or three release candidates.
Gates also told attendees at the conference in Cape Town that the company was investing between US$8 billion and $9 billion on Windows Vista and Office 2007, the two biggest potential revenue generators for the company in the coming years.