Vista-Type Delays? Never Again, Ballmer Says - InformationWeek

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Vista-Type Delays? Never Again, Ballmer Says

Ballmer is seeking to replicate with Windows Vista the development scheduling success Microsoft has had with Office.

Delays to Windows Vista have hurt Microsoft, but the situation will be fixed and will not be repeated, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer vowed.

Ballmer, like Jeff Raikes before him, has a huge amount of faith in Steven Sinofsky, the former Office executive who moved over to Windows in March with a mandate to get development in hand.

Sinofsky is now senior vice president of the Windows and Windows Live group in the company’s Platform & Services Division.

The Office team under Sinofsky built a reputation for delivering major releases in relatively timely fashion, typically every three years. The Windows group has not had the same success.

But Ballmer asserts that will change.

"We've got to get back into our pattern. We've put the master in there now. Steven Sinofsky. And believe you me, we're going to get that thing into a regular pattern and are driving hard," Ballmer told CRN last week. (Full interview here.)

Two years ago, Jeff Raikes, now president of the Microsoft Business Unit, but even then the Office overlord, spoke glowingly to CRN of Sinofsky's abilities. The Office group is "one of the best software development units, with 24- to 36-month life cycles. In every positive sense of the word, Sinofsky runs a machine. He really does. I have so much admiration for the way in which he pulls the team together. Picks a date and a focus, and he brings the team together to envision what the future and the themes should be," Raikes said at the time.

Ballmer was quick to point to the Xbox, Windows Mobile, and the upcoming Office 2007 as bright spots for the company, but acknowledged that since Windows is the company's best known product, the Vista issue dominates.

"Look, we have one product—it just happens to be our most famous product—that has a bigger gap than it will ever, ever, ever have again in its release cycle. That will never happen again. I know how we got there, I'm not going to go through all that. I know what we're going to do differently. I'm not going to go through that. It'll never happen again," Ballmer said.

In March—the same week it moved Sinofsky to Windows—the company said Vista will not be broadly available until early 2007. Within days they put Office 2007 on the same schedule. Volume license customers will get access to both products by year's end, it said.

Both Vista and Office 2007 hit beta 2 a few weeks ago.

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