Software Partners Say They'll Cope With Vista Delay

Microsoft's delay in widespread Windows Vista availability won't hit software partners as hard as hardware vendors.

March 23, 2006

3 Min Read
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Microsoft's delay in widespread Windows Vista availability won't hit software partners as hard as hardware vendors.

Microsoft upstaged its own show on Tuesday, announcing its Windows Vista delay in the midst of Mix06, a conference dedicated to spotlighting an assortment of forthcoming Web development and design tools, many tightly linked to the tardy Vista operating system.

Early Vista adopters, like ISVs building applications based on the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) graphical subsystem at Vista's core, say they're comfortable waiting a few weeks longer or deploying beta versions. Systems integrators report that they haven't yet started planning Vista projects: Few large companies want to be on the bleeding edge of the upgrade cycle.

"I think any delays on WPF won't pose problems," said Andrew Whiddett, chief technologist for user-interface developer REZN8. "The advantages in using the platform far outweigh those scenarios. I prefer they get it right."

REZN8 showed off at Mix06 a 3D, rich-media application for branded sports content that is based on WPF. The firm's first project incorporating the application, an online Nascar portal, is slated to go live this summer. REZN8 is confident that slowed Vista adoption won't dim clients' enthusiasm for the rich-media projects some of the operating system's new features and developer hooks enable."We're basically in a build-out mode this year and will deploy over time various features," said REZN8 CEO Paul Sidlo. "This is really going to empower a lot of companies to have a media relationship with their customers. They're excited about that."

While official availability of many new tools like WPF is tied to Vista's launch, Microsoft's slow-drip system of preview and beta releases means that developers can put tools to work long before their formal release. The company also is taking care to broaden the reach of its major advances. While WPF is a core component of Vista, it also will run on Windows XP.

ISV iBloks built its eponymous multimedia mashup software atop WPF and is just waiting on the Go-Live license to launch its application, which includes a bundled WPF download. IBloks Chief Technology Officer Rolf Kaiser hopes the Vista holdup doesn't delay the Go-Live green light.

"[The delay] is kind of a bummer, but we're fine shipping on a beta," Kaiser said. "We've got the application, we've got the content, and we're ready to go live today. We're going to E3 [in May], so we're hoping to go live before that."

Like WPF, many of the tools Microsoft touted at Mix06 remain in the development stage. Some like Internet Explorer 7 are edging close to completion, but several developers at the show said they won't seriously start working with Microsoft's new technologies until they're more fully baked. A session on WPF/E (Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere) drew an overflow crowd eager to hear about Microsoft's framework for making some WPF features available on non-Windows platforms, but the framework isn't due out till the first half of 2007. WPF/E support for mobile devices is nearly two years off, scheduled for late 2007.Developer Pete Brown said his enthusiasm for WPF/E dimmed when he heard the lengthy timeline for device support. "It's interesting as a Flash competitor but it won't have the penetration," said Brown, a lead systems architect for Reston, Va.-based Microsoft Gold partner Applied Information Sciences. "Without a greatly enhanced feature set, it's tough to make the case for it."

A Microsoft developer who works for a development shop in Bangladesh called Somewhere In..., Omar Al Zabir summed up the sanguine attitude systems integrators at the show took toward Vista's ever-lengthening arrival timetable.

"We haven't yet started developing for Vista because it's two to three years out," Al Zabir said. "Our customers not going to change their hardware and use it until next year at the earliest."

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