By Daisuke Wakabayashi and Eric Auchard Fri Jul 28, 5:12 AM ET
REDMOND, Washington (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT - news) on
Thursday failed to quash fears that a new version of its Windows software
system would be further delayed, stirring concerns that a new technology
cycle tied to the upgrade could be put on hold.
This uncertainty over when Microsoft and the rest of hi-tech would benefit
from the surge in revenue growth that typically accompanies a major Windows
upgrade led Microsoft's shares to close down 2 percent at $23.87 on the
Nasdaq on Thursday.
"We will ship Windows Vista when it is available," Kevin Johnson,
co-president of Microsoft's platforms and services unit, said at the
company's annual financial analysts' meeting, adding that Microsoft would
take the project "milestone by milestone."
Windows sits on more than 90 percent of the world's personal computers.
Windows Vista, already five years in the making, has been postponed by
Microsoft several times. Quality assurance delays have put off the consumer
version of Windows until early 2007 -- after the crucial holiday shopping
Vista is set to ship to corporate customers this November.
Goldman Sachs analyst Rick Sherlund said the cautious comments represent a
delayed confirmation of his thesis that Microsoft would not begin to see
revenue from the general availability of Windows Vista until March or April
"When they hesitate, that's confirmation we were right," he said. Microsoft
has consistently been this cautious in the past, an acknowledgment of its
history of slipping a few months beyond initial targets for major software
releases, Sherlund said.