Is Microsoft in a Slump?

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That seems to be a question on a lot of people’s minds these days, and not just Linux and Mac partisans eager to engage in some serious schadenfreude. The company has repeatedly delayed the release of its Vista/Longhorn operating system, with the latest setback coming with Microsoft’s recent announcement that it would push back its OEM (original equipment manufacturer) roll out from later this year to early 2007. This had an impact on the company’s bottom line too, with Microsoft’s stock prices slipping shortly after the news was made public.

 

Now as a journalist, I miss the occasional deadline, and I know people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. But the Vista project has been so beset with postponements that it’s gotten to the point where the nascent OS is known for its holdups more than anything else. Many believe that this doesn’t bode well for the release—whenever that actually happens—and sullies the reputation of a company that managed to put out nine major versions of Windows between 1993 and 2002.

 

The truth is, though, Microsoft doesn’t have too much to worry about if it can stick to its early 2007 deadline. Most Windows consumers will be just fine with their current versions of 2000, XP or whatever else they have in the meantime, and they’ll still use Vista eventually, delays or no delays. But if I were a Microsoft exec or investor, I’d be hoping against hope that the hindrances with Vista are just an aberration due to the fact that the developers want to get a very, very important release right, and that these kinds of setbacks won’t become the norm for other future products.

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