Microsoft: Push the Windows Vista date back

Earlier this week Neowin reported about the call from Longhorn Blogs for Microsoft to give Windows Vista more time. Yesterday WinSuperSite.com and WinCustomize.com put up their own views on whether Vista is ready which could be summed up as "No. God, no."
 
So what exactly is the situation with Windows Vista? What is the no-marketing spin truth of it? Here are the facts: Windows Vista is scheduled to be made available for corporate customers by the end of the year and be "Generally available" in January 2007.  To make that date, Microsoft essentially has to "go gold" by the end of October.  That means release candidates would start this month (August 2006).  In theory, release candidates are supposed to be versions of Windows Vista that are believed to be ready to go and just need some final testing.
 
So where do things stand right now?  Build 5472 went out a week ago.  5484 was given out earlier this week to selected beta testers.  Most (okay all) of the beta testers we've talked to have said the same thing: It's not where it needs to be to make that date.
 
The problems include everything from general stability, networking issues, backward compatibility, unfinished features, unfinished APIs and more. 
 
Paul Thurrott writes "Do I think that Microsoft will finalize Windows Vista by the end of October 25? Yes, but I also believe they will release a massive series of patches between October 2006 and January 2007 if they do arbitrarily hit their latest release promise because of issues that crop up after Vista gets shipped out to all those businesses that won't be installing it anyway."
 
The fear many in the industry have of this strategy is a repeat of the Windows ME debacle. The poor reception of Windows ME essentially killed it.  An unfinished Windows Vista could result in an OS whose reputation never recovers. One can almost picture Dell and HP offering Windows XP as an alternative pre-loaded OS for years to come with Windows Vista essentially being shoved aside until the follow-on version of Windows ships.
 
As an OS, Windows Vista is a marvel. The problem isn't that the OS is bad, it is just that it needs time for some of the really ambitious features to be fully tested and integrated.  Windows Vista delivers things like DirectX 10 (which is a big deal for game developers and be only available on Windows Vista), Windows Presentation Foundation, Windows Communication Foundation, a better UI, a composited desktop environment, better security and a lot more.  Under the covers, Windows Vista is the most significant update to Windows since NT was introduced. 
 
But if Windows Vista ships too early, none of those great new features will matter. All people will remember is that it was "buggy", "slow", "flakey", and "incompatible" and that reputation would long outlive the few extra months it would take to make sure Vista has the time to get it right.
 
Below are some links that go into more detail and their prescriptions. 
 

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