Channel Protests Phased Vista Access

Windows Vista

Some partners say Microsoft is showing favoritism to larger OEMs with this policy and plan to raise the issue at Microsoft’s annual channel summit in San Diego this week. If Vista is ready Nov. 1, enterprise customers can get the business version of Vista. However, OEMs and system builders will not receive the 3.5 Gbytes of 32-bit code until January.

“If we had Vista by Nov. 1, we’d be shipping product by Nov. 15. The problem is [larger] OEMs don’t move that quickly,” said Steve Bohman, vice president of operations at Columbus Micro Systems, a system builder in Columbus, Ohio. “The perception is that Microsoft is bowing to the tier ones again.”

Another system builder agreed. “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t have every bit an advantage [over OEMs] since we can gear up quickly,” said Wes Herschberger, president of MapleTronics, Goshen, Ind. “Why not give us custom system builders the advantage once in a while?”

Getting code into two-tiered distribution takes as long as OEM production cycles, others say. Brian Bergin, president of Terabyte Computers, Boonsville, N.C., sympathizes with larger system builders that have direct accounts with Microsoft but noted most system builders must use distribution so the lapse in release schedules is not all Microsoft’s doing.

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Kurt Kolb, Microsoft’s vice president of system builders and license compliance, said the decision was made to ensure a level playing field for all partners and give ISVs time to make any software changes, he said.

Microsoft wants “steer clear of potential disruption for our channel across the board. If the product is released during the holiday season, we can’t guarantee there wouldn’t be system builders that were caught in transition during the critical holiday season,” Kolb said. “Nothing would be worse for the system builder than to heighten consumer demand for a product that wasn’t broadly available or supported by the industry at large.”