After repeated delays and setbacks, Vista may ship on time after all, according to a financial analyst.
In a note to investors, Goldman Sachs analyst Rick Sherlund said the last test version of Vista could be ready as early as the end of the week. The assessment makes it more possible the operating system could reach PC vendors in November and consumers by late January 2007.
"We had been skeptical of the launch schedule after Beta shipped with problems in May, but the team seems to be making great progress in addressing issues of performance, reliability and compatibility," Sherlund wrote.
Additionally, vendors faced with the prospect of a holiday buying season without Vista to attract consumers could begin offering upgrade coupons starting later this month, according to the analyst.
"Microsoft is negotiating with PC vendors now on the nature of the coupons," according to Sherlund. Details such as the timing and who pays for the enticements remain.
While Microsoft was not immediately available for comment, the analyst said more details could be available when the software maker reports first quarter earnings October 26.
The upbeat note seems to run counter to previous analyst opinions suggesting Vista may not appear before the second quarter of 2007.
In May, Gartner Group released a report titled "Windows Vista Unlikely to Ship Before 2Q07."
The research firm based the report on the speed of past OS introductions. While Windows XP took just five months to go from second beta to final code, the span stretched 16 months in the case of Windows 2000.
Other analysts agree Vista could be back on schedule.
Although some uncertainty remains, "Microsoft is in pretty good shape," JupiterKagan analyst Joe Wilcox told internetnews.com.
Wilcox said the September release of Release Candidate 1 (RC1) was a major milestone.
Testers positively received that first test version of Vista.
However, possible roadblocks remain for Vista.