Gates says January Vista launch 80% likely

— 11:01 AM on July 12, 2006

Microsoft's decision to delay Office 2007 last month appeared to foreshadow a similar fate for Vista, especially as CEO Steve Ballmer said in May the OS was on track to ship "early in the year"—omitting to reference the official January 2007 launch date. Bill Gates has now elaborated on the Vista launch situation with a statement that is none clearer: according to Gates, there is an "80 percent chance" that Vista will ship in January. Gates didn't clarify whether this probability was liable to change over time, although he added that he would be "glad" to delay the launch if beta testing reveals the OS is "not ready for prime time."

In May, the Gartner research group suggested that Vista was unlikely to be released in January 2007 due to the amount of time required for beta testing. Gartner pointed out that Windows 2000 took 16 months to hit manufacturing after its Beta 2 release, and that since Vista's complexity is close to that of Windows 2000, the new OS could take up to 12 months to go through testing. Microsoft released Vista Beta 2 in late May, so Gartner's estimates would put the final shipping date in the second quarter of 2007. Considering Gates' new statement, a prolonged testing phase seems possible.

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