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Gartner predicts longer Vista delay

Don't expect to see Windows Vista any sooner than the second quarter of 2007, says the research group.

The wait for Microsoft's delayed Windows Vista could be even longer than expected, according to a research report issued this week.

In March, Microsoft announced that widespread distribution of Windows Vista would be delayed until early 2007. Now, research firm Gartner Group has reported that the operating system might not be fully available until at least the second quarter of next year.

"Microsoft's track record is clear," the firm says. "It consistently misses target dates for major operating system releases. We don't expect broad availability of Windows Vista until at least 2Q07 (second quarter of 2007), which is nine to 12 months after Beta 2."

Microsoft, however, maintains that everything is on schedule, in line with its March announcement.

"We respectfully disagree with Gartner's views around timing of the final delivery of Windows Vista," a Microsoft spokesman told CNET News. "We remain on track to deliver Windows Vista Beta 2 in the second quarter and to deliver the final product to volume-license customers in November 2006 and to other businesses and consumers in January 2007."

Gartner says it believes that as a result of modifications Microsoft made in 2004 to the modular structure of Windows, the software company will need more time for "shims," or tweaks made to reported problems. This process takes place reactively as users try out the Beta 2 release of the operating system.

The upgrade from Windows XP to Vista will be as complex as the Windows 2000 release was, Gartner says. Windows 2000 took 16 months to reach manufacturing from its Beta 2 stage. The change to Windows XP from Windows 2000 only took five months from Beta 2, but it was "a relatively minor release," according the Gartner report.

Microsoft's news that the new platform would not be ready in time for Christmas caused winces throughout the industry, which was already expecting a slight decline in growth for the holiday season.

Gartner had previously advised some companies to hold off on the upgrade until 2008, since third-party products already supply many of the security upgrades incorporated into the new Windows platform.