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10/23/2006
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Gartner: Microsoft May Regret January Vista Launch

Gartner reversed its previous skepticism that Microsoft would make its deadline for shipping Vista. But a Gartner analyst says the January launch date is a bad idea and will hurt the industry as a whole.

Contrary to predictions made by Gartner as recently as September, the research firm now believes that Microsoft will likely meet a January consumer launch date. At the same time, however, a Gartner analyst questioned the wisdom of sending the new operating system to market that time of the year.

"It appears that Microsoft has made much faster progress than many (including Gartner) had expected in getting its next Windows OS ready for release," wrote Brian Gammage, a research vice president, in an online brief posted Friday. "[That] says much about the company's determination to meet the deadline it set for itself in March."

But in the next breath, Gammage challenged the January release, and said that Microsoft's stubbornness in pushing out Vista will actually hurt the PC industry as a whole.

By Gammage's reasoning, Vista's January roll-out will convince users to postpone purchases of new PCs until then, shifting demand from November and December -- when prices are highest because demand is strong -- to January and February, when buyers expect discounted prices. The bottom line: OEMs will see a revenue shortfall in the fourth quarter of 2006 that will be only partially shifted to the first quarter of 2007.

"Although we salute Microsoft's dogged determination, we believe it is demonstrating scant regard for the PC ecosystem on which it depends," said Gammage. "This is a decision that Microsoft may come to regret in the years ahead."

According to a schedule posted on the Microsoft Canada MSDN Web site, the Redmond, Wash. developer will begin its Vista launch events no later than Nov. 23, Thanksgiving Day in the United States.

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