For a little while Tuesday, Microsoft said it would ship Windows Vista in November, but within hours the entry on the "Official Microsoft Connections" event blog had been changed to the standard company line "second half of this year."
Although Microsoft watchers have occasionally been compared to Kremlinologists, guessing the release date of Vista, the Redmond, Wash.-based developer's next desktop operating system, has been a game to more than just outsiders: last month, Microsoft itself launched a contest that let developers guess the day.
Monday, the game of guess-the-date seemed to be over as Microsoft employee Greg Randall, identified on the site as Team Lead, Small Business Webcasts, revealed "This is the year…the year that Microsoft releases the newest version of Windows. Yes, Vista will be released in November of this year."
As late as Tuesday morning, the entry -- on a site Microsoft dedicates to a program of free small business seminars it hosts countrywide -- held to the November release.
By Tuesday afternoon, however, the blog had been redacted to read "This is the year…the year that Microsoft releases the newest version of Windows. We are targeting to make Windows Vista generally available in the second half of this year, and the exact delivery date will ultimately be determined by the quality of the product."
While earlier scuttlebutt about Vista's roll-out date had tagged months from August to December, the most recent seemed to have settled on early October. Late last month, for example, TG Daily, the news arm of the popular Tom's Hardware site, had claimed inside sources indicated the operating system would launch somewhere between Oct. 2 and Oct. 6.
Vista's release date has implications on earnings during calendar 2006 for not only Microsoft, but also OEM vendors who are expecting to have the OS in hand early enough to post product in the channel before year's end.
Microsoft did not immediately reply for a request for comment.