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Microsoft’s Vista Now Slated For January Launch

Redmond, Wash. — Microsoft’s announced last week that it will not launch the consumer version of its much-hyped Vista operating system until next year, missing the company’s usual fall launch window that placed it on store shelves in time for the holiday selling season.

While Microsoft had never officially given a launch date for Vista outside of indicating it would ship in the second half of 2006, it was accepted in the industry that it would be available in stores and new computers by October or November. This is the period when Microsoft released Windows XP and Millennium. Windows 98 came out in June and Windows 95 in late August. Microsoft said that a January launch for Vista will enable it to ship a better quality product with a better out-of-box experience for the consumer.

The company will ship the commercial version of the software in November to give IT departments a chance to test and integrate Vista into their systems.

Retailers and peripheral vendors are greatly anticipating Vista’s arrival. CompUSA CEO Larry Mondry called Vista one of the most important products to come along in several years and memory and graphic card makers were expecting a boost in sales as consumers upgraded their older PCs to handle Vista.

However, in Microsoft’s written statement Hewlett-Packard and Best Buy supported the January launch.

“We strongly support Microsoft’s decision to prioritize quality in determining the schedule for Windows Vista,” said HP’s Todd Bradley, executive VP of the personal systems group. “A January launch of Windows Vista allows us to execute in a consistent way throughout the holidays, and will provide the right opportunity for a large, exciting launch industrywide after the New Year.”

“When people come to our stores to buy a new PC or new software for their PC, we want to be able to offer them a broad set of choices, immediate availability and a great retail experience. We agree with Microsoft that it’s best to do this right — and in this case it’s delivering Windows Vista-based PCs with confidence in January 2007,” said Ron Boire, executive VP and general merchandising manager at Best Buy.

Bank of America Analyst David Strasser’s sees a severe impact at retail with about 500,000 Vista-related sales now failing to take place. He has Best Buy and CircuitCity taking the brunt of this loss with Best Buy losing perhaps 100,000 sales and Circuit about 30,000. In addition, Strasser stated that the excitement surrounding Vista’s launch was expected to drive a great deal of general store traffic.

Microsoft said it would spend $500 million on marketing and advertising leading into Vista’s launch.