Microsoft has admitted that next year's release of Windows 98 will be delayed by up to three months.
The revelation, which caused a sharp dip in the firm's share price, was swiftly followed by a similar announcement from Lotus postponing the next version of Notes. But both companies have denied that the delays are related.
Windows 98 was scheduled for launch in the first quarter of next year.
That has now slipped to the second quarter. Notes 5.0 and Domino 5.0 were originally slated for release by the end of this year, but that has now slipped to the first half of 1998. US reports suggested Lotus was linking its timing with that of Microsoft.
Microsoft blamed the delay in Windows 98 on the need to synchronise two versions of the product. Previously, the company planned one version in the first quarter for users of Windows 95, with a further release within three months for users of Windows 3.x. These two have been combined to a single release in the second quarter.
"Microsoft confused the market with various releases of Windows 95, and feedback from our key partners and customers said they didn't want that again," explained David Weeks, Windows 98 product manager at Microsoft UK. "With the simultaneous shipment there is a payoff in terms of time, so we have to delay the release."
Lotus denied that the postponement to Notes marks a major slippage, and that there is any connection with the delay to Windows 98.
"Even if Windows 98 becomes Windows 99, you will still see Notes 5.0 early next year," promised Victor Aberdeen, Internet product manager at Lotus UK.
"Notes and Windows 98 are not tied together: there is a relationship, not a knot. Just because Microsoft can't get its code together doesn't mean it's a major pain for Lotus," Aberdeen said.
Sam Sethi, marketing manager at rival Netscape, took a very different view. "Lotus is the tail being wagged by the Microsoft dog," he declared.
"It's the end of Lotus as an independent software company."
He claimed Lotus needs to wait for Microsoft development of key areas of functionality to be tied into Notes.
Microsoft's share price dropped over 5% when the delay to Windows 98 was announced, but recovered next day.
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