Microsoft: Windows 7 not a lock for '09

In an interview, top Windows executive Bill Veghte tells CNET News that he's telling PC makers that the OS might ship in time for this year's holidays and it might not.

LAS VEGAS--It's not clear whether Microsoft is just trying to be overly cautious, but top Windows executive Bill Veghte said the company is telling PC makers that Windows 7 might or might not be ready in time for this year's holiday season.

"I'm telling them that it could go either way," Veghte told CNET News in an interview Wednesday. "We will ship it when the quality is right, and earlier is always better, but not at the cost of ecosystem support and not at the cost of quality.

Veghte also said that the economy is factoring into his marketing plans for Windows, which is in the middle of an advertising push initially estimated at several hundred million dollars over several years.

"Given the economic situation, as shareholders would expect us to tighten our belt, but with the things that are most important, and customers would expect us to do that while continuing to innovate," he said. "The expectation is that the dollar we spend on advertising today will go further than it did in July...and the Windows business is pretty core to Microsoft, it's core to the Microsoft brand, so we will continue to invest in support of Windows."

Asked whether he thought the same applied to the unit's staffing level, he said Windows is core to the success of the company," but added that he's "certainly looking at how we can be more efficient, and given the mission in our advertising spending that we just talked about, efficient in where we apply our headcount and efficient, but not at the risk of jeopardizing the opportunity that we have."

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