Today, Adam Taylor, Windows group product manager, denied that the Memphis release dates published this week in the "Solution News" newsletter are correct. The newsletter promised that Memphis would be released by November 1.
"Nobody talked to me or the engineers of Memphis," said Taylor. "I am the source for this kind of information, and this didn't come from us."
Taylor then reiterated that Microsoft would like to ship Memphis by the end of the year but that it could slip into Q1 1998.
"We will only ship products after our testers tell us they're happy with it," Taylor said.
I had been wondering about the schedule anyway: during the Windows 95 beta, there was a six-week lull between the Release To Manufacturing (RTM) date and the actual retail release in August. More importantly, this cycle was squeezed very hard because, as you'll recall, the entire planet was frothing at the mouth over Windows 95. Typically, these release cycle takes longer, say 8-10 weeks from RTM to retail availability. If the Memphis schedule published yesterday was correct, this cycle would need to be completed in two weeks. It just doesn't make sense.
Hardware manufacturers are another issue. If Memphis was release in time for Christmas, this would have an unfortunate side effect for PC makers: while their new PCs were shipping with Windows 95, a brand new version of Windows ("Memphis") would be available in stores. This would affect new PC sales dramatically. Microsoft always ships new OS releases to OEMs simultaneously with (or earlier than) the retail release. Otherwise, companies like Dell and Gateway would need to offer "free upgrade to Memphis" coupons and get killed on each sale. This would hardly endear Microsoft with these companies.
Microsoft has never publicly announced a release date for Memphis and the comments by Adam Taylor today suggest they are still unable to commit to a firm release date. In the past, as today, the late 1997/early 1998 time frame has been the closest they've come to a date