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The next generation of Microsoft’s Media Centre has been delayed due to a decision not to rlease the consumer version of the Windows Vista operating system until January 2007.

SHN has been told that the Media Centre Component of the new OS which will take advantage of new Intel Viiv capabilities is one of the core reasons that the OS has been held up.

Jim Allchin, co-president of platform products and services at Microsoft, said in a conference call that the company decided to delay the consumer version of Vista because PC manufacturers required more time to test and prepare their systems. Windows Vista was hit by quality issues that caused the release to be pushed back “a few weeks”. But this prompted manufacturers to ask Microsoft to delay the consumer version until 2007 because they had insufficient time to test and prepare their systems for availability this year.

“Quality is the top-line message, and we needed just a few more weeks,” said Allchin. “We will release to manufacturing and sit on the disk for the consumer launch.”

Windows Vista was originally promised for the second half of 2006, but delays have plagued the operating system throughout its development. The software was originally planned as an upgrade to Windows XP and was expected to arrive in 2003. Development was delayed after Microsoft decided to add more features, and by pulling developers off the project to work on the security oriented Service Pack 2 for XP.

The decision to delay the release of the consumer version of Vista will cause the software to miss the 2006 holiday shopping season. This could have a negative impact on PC sales for this year, analyst firm Gartner warned earlier this month.  “No matter how I look at it, the news is a blow to many Microsoft partners as they will not have Windows Vista to sell during the lucrative holiday sales season,” noted Joe Wilcox, a senior analyst with Jupiter Research, on a company blog.

“I cannot imagine why any PC manufacturer would not want to have Windows Vista systems to sell for the holidays. They will lose the benefit of massive Windows marketing, as well as a brand new operating system to dress up their PCs.” Windows Vista is currently in beta and has been made available to a limited group of testers through Microsoft’s Community Technology Preview.

The next test version is slated for the second quarter of this year and will be available to a broader group of testers.

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