Windows Server 2008 delay won't hurt Microsoft partners, analysts said

The delay of Windows Server 2008 shouldn't hurt Microsoft partners, because few have customers willing to put it into production right away, experts said.

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Microsoft may not have surprised anyone by acknowledging last month that Windows Server 2008 would be delayed, but the lag may not hurt anyone, either -- at least not anyone in the channel.

In July, Microsoft execs told attendees at its Worldwide Partner Conference in Denver that it would launch the long-delayed Windows Server 2008 on Feb. 27, 2008, but that it would actually ship the long-awaited update to manufacturers before the end of this year.

Now they're acknowledging that the company will delay Windows Server 2008 shipment until the first quarter of 2008, because the company "would rather spend a little more time to meet the high-quality bar that [its] customers and partners deserve and expect."

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"In terms of how [the delay] changes the adoption of the server product, I think it's insignificant," Michael Cherry, lead analyst for Directions on Microsoft, said.

The original release-to-market date of late this year would have come at "a time of year that very little work gets done," Cherry said.

Rand Morimoto, president of Convergent Computing, a Microsoft partner in Oakland, Calif., said he wasn't expecting to deploy the release-to-market code until March.

"At this point, I don't see that necessarily changing," he said.

Most Microsoft partners will undergo a "fairly extensive testing period" of nine to 18 months, according to John Enck, research vice president for Gartner. So "the slippage of a quarter is really not significant," he agreed.

One of the most anticipated features -- however long delayed -- of Windows Server 2008 is its virtualization capabilities. The July schedule had those features shipping several months after the shipment of Windows Server 2008, anyway, so the delay is even less likely to have much effect, Cherry said.

"I just wonder how many people -- if what they're really interested in is the virtualization -- are going to do anything until the virtualization is ready," he said.

Microsoft didn't disclose specific reasons for the Windows Server 2008 delay, but those virtualization features may have played a role, Enck said. That technology is just going into beta testing now and may have required more changes than expected to the rest of the operating system, he said. But both Enck and Cherry said the delay of Windows Server 2008 does not mean there are any serious problems with the product.

"With a short delay like this, it's hard to say it's any one thing," Cherry said.

"It looks like a fairly solid release," Enck said.

Cherry and Enck also chalked up the delay to Microsoft's history of product setbacks. In fact, Gartner predicted all along that Windows Server 2008 would not release to market in 2007.

"Every release, they're always late," Enck said. "And that was certainly the case here."

"We're used to delays at this point," Morimoto agreed.

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