Microsoft’s delays are “a big blow to us,” said Todd Swank, director of marketing at Northern Computer Technologies, a system builder in Burnsville, Minn. “That will put a damper on holiday sales,” he said, noting that Nor-Tech’s VAR customers sell to both businesses and consumers.
“The desktop refresh cycle just took a huge hit,” said Glen Coffield, president of Cheap Guys Computers, a system builder in Orlando Fla. “Microsoft is saying seven or eight months before launch [that] they can’t get it done. It’s obviously not a small problem,” he said.
Given the lead time hardware OEMs and system builders need to load, test and customize their installs, Microsoft said last week that only large customers with volume license deals will get the coveted code in November. Broad consumer availability will wait until January.
Jim Allchin, co-president of Microsoft’s Platform and Services, said the company acted responsibly and in response to partner and customer feedback, a contention that some partners dismissed out of hand.
“Tell me again why it’s in our interest to put off the new business: deploying Vista, doing server upgrades, migrations and consolidations? How is it in our interest to wait when the delay will cause customers to wait for the new release?” asked Ron Herardian, CEO of Global System Services, Mountain View, Calif. “We’re being told that the same delay that will cause a loss to Microsoft is beneficial to us. Not unless we’re selling solutions based on something else besides Windows, like Linux or Solaris 10 x86.”
Several solution providers pointed out that this is not the first slip and may not be the last for the new Windows client. “I think it’s actually going to be longer [than January], said one VAR, who requested anonymity. “Vista is a huge project.”
Microsoft last week said the planned 2007 release of the Windows Longhorn Server is still good. The question is whether anyone believes that.
Microsoft’s worst nightmare is that by the time these products ship, they will have become irrelevant, one insider said.
There is a growing perception that Microsoft needs to focus on what’s important. “They don’t seem to know what they want to be,” said Ron Zapar, CEO of Re-Quest, a Chicago-area database specialist. “One day they’re focusing on enterprise software, taking on Oracle; the next they’re talking services against Salesforce.com and Google; the next they want to be in consumer electronics against Nintendo and PlayStation; and yet here they can’t even deliver their core product anywhere near on time.”
One system builder, who requested anonymity, said Microsoft’s monopoly status allows it to get away with such behavior. “Everyone is being held hostage. It’s not as if you can go across the street and get something else.”