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Microsoft's Deadline Problem

When it comes to predicting ship dates for its operating systems, Microsoft is about as accurate as your local weatherman. Keep that in mind when planning for its next-generation OS, code-named Longhorn.

An analysis of Microsoft's predicted OS ship dates with actual ship dates that appears in the March issue of Redmond magazine shows that Microsoft, on average, ships desktop OSes 10 months late, with server OSes more than a year late. And the news is worse for OSes that are more redesigns, like Windows 2000 Server from Windows NT, than upgrades like Windows Server 2003 from Win2K. "Windows 95, for example, was 14 months late, while NT Server 4.0 was 21 months late—nearly two years," according to the article.

Longhorn desktop and server are certainly following that path, with Longhorn server now tentatively slated for May 2006. This is several years later than originally predicted by Microsoft. To even hit that date, Microsoft had to pull the most-anticipated feature from Longhorn—WinFS, also known as unified storage.

Of course, some announced products never see the light of day. This includes Cairo, which was scrapped altogether and replaced by Win2K. Although there are no indications that Longhorn is going to be mothballed, whispering and rumors are likely to start flying if any more announced ship dates start slipping.

One interesting finding in the story is that Microsoft Office comes closest, by far, to hitting announced ship dates. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that Office is such a mature product, and has not undergone any serious renovations for many versions. No Office product has shipped more than 5 months late, and half the time they are shipped on time or early.

The full story can be found at www.redmondmag.com/features/article.asp?EditorialsID=465.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.

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