The company I work for is a distributor. We sell Microsoft licensing (retail, OEM, volume licensing), retail and business laptops, Apple, and much more. Every summer I see how busy our Apple sales folks get. Back-to-school is a huge season for them and Apple recognises this by getting product out in time for the shopping spree.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has been doing general availability releases in October, completely missing the season when parents go spend crazy on their precious darlings. Microsoft has effectively halved their seasons by only catching Christmas. Apple gets both the summer buzz and the winter holidays. Sure, Microsoft has gotten lots of biz from €400 laptops in this season, but we know how much that market has been shrinking thanks to the constant IDC headlines.
We know now that “Windows 9” (codename “threshold”) is coming out in April 2015 (or thereabouts). I suspect that is an RTM date. GA will probably be the end of May or start of June. That’s a good thing.
The releases of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 have shown us that the interval between RTM and GA is not enough for OEMs to get product out onto shelves. We’ve seen October GAs and previously announced stuff has taken 4-6 months to appear in the retail channel where customers can buy it. I suspect there are two factors in the delay:
- OEMs are slow to build and ship
- Retailers are focusing on clearing old stock before ordering next generation stock
For Microsoft and the willing consumer that is a lose-lose perfect storm.
With GA possibly in June, that gives the channel a chance to get stock out in the market by August, the sweet spot in the back-to-school market, and even longer for products to mature for the Christmas shopping season (November onwards).
If this is what happens then I would hope that Microsoft sticks to April RTM dates.