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Licensed enterprises will see Vista in November

Microsoft customers with Enterprise agreements will get Vista bits in November. Everyone else will have to wait until January.

Enterprise customers that have a volume licensing deal with Microsoft will see completed Windows Vista bits in November. But for small business customers and consumers buying new computers, what was supposed to be an October Vista launch will be delayed until January 2007.

Unfortunately for the latter, that's a tad late for Christmas.

Microsoft's co-president for the platforms and services division, Jim Allchin said in a conference call on Tuesday that Vista is feature complete and the upgrade bits aimed at business customers, such as those that make up the Vista Enterprise SKU, will be available for download to those with volume licenses in November.

Microsoft has spoken to all of its partners, the ISVs, OEMs, retailers and so on -- all the companies that are planning to have it for the holidays, said Brad Goldberg, general manager for Windows client product management at Microsoft.

"They wanted certainty and commitment from us based on their long lead times," he said. "When we looked at what we saw in terms of quality and performance, fit and finish, we thought we would need more time."

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Allchin said some Microsoft partners had requested holding back Vista for a few more weeks of testing to make sure the product is as secure as it can be. Because of these few extra weeks, some partners would be able to launch and others not, so Microsoft decided to delay the product until January.

"There is a few weeks' delay because the partners had asked," Allchin said. "This is a major release and it takes a lot of time to do the appropriate qualifications. Some of the manufacturers have their systems built off shore. There are logistics that have to take place here and we are not experts on that."

Allchin said the SKUs will remain the same. Also, all the SKUs will be available internally at the same time. The delay is just in terms of what is being provided to the channel.

For large businesses, there is no cause for concern, but it will definitely slow sales [for computers] during the holidays, said Mike Cherry, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland, Wash., consulting firm. "If you were going to buy a new machine, the inclination would be to wait for Vista."

Microsoft released the most recent Community Technology Preview for Vista in February. The next milestone is a second beta trial coming in the next quarter.

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