In a surprise move, Microsoft has postponed its Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) 2008 from next spring to next fall, leaving many industry observers with a simple question: Why?
The conference was pushed back due to "industry feedback," a company spokesperson told InternetNews.com. Adding that Microsoft had no further comment, the spokesperson referred to the company's WinHEC site.
"We are pleased to announce that WinHEC 2008 will be held in the fall of 2008 on the West Coast (location to be determined). We have re-scheduled WinHEC for the fall in response to industry feedback," according to a statement on the Web site.
In past years, the annual event, which began in 1992, was always held in the spring. No further explanation for the delay was given.
Perhaps, suggested one analyst, Microsoft postponed WinHEC because it has so little to talk about.
"It's always been a place for Microsoft to talk about Windows and where the hardware makers can go with it," Roger Kay, president of analysis firm Endpoint Technologies, told InternetNews.com.
"My thought is that they're not really ready to have the discussion about the hardware for the next version of Windows yet because they're still working on the current one [Vista]," Kay added.
WinHEC has traditionally been the venue Microsoft used to help give its hardware partners insight into computing platforms it intends to support, as well as the kick off point for key software and hardware initiatives.
For instance, at the 2006 conference, Microsoft released the second beta test release of Windows Vista, which has more stringent hardware requirements than the previous version, Windows XP. In order to support Vista's Aero Glass user interface, PCs needed to have higher-end graphics capabilities.
Likewise, WinHEC 2007 featured keynote speeches by Microsoft's chairman Bill Gates, chief research and strategy officer Craig Mundie, and corporate vice president of Windows product management Mike Nash. Much of that Conference was dedicated to promoting Vista, which shipped to corporate customers in November 2006 and to consumers in January 2007.
Between now and next spring, Microsoft also plans to ship three other key products Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, and Visual Studio 2008 which it has already discussed at length at WinHEC conferences.
One important technology, Hyper-V, Microsoft's virtualization hypervisor for Windows Server 2008, is due out 180 days after the release of the server, which is set for the first quarter of next year.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is already at work on the next version of Windows, codenamed version 7, which is not due out until 2010 or later.
This article was first published on InternetNews.com.