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Microsoft announced today that Vista slipped; corporate customers will get the code by year end, consumers after new year.

UPDATE: Microsoft Delays Vista For Consumers Until January

By Michael Paige

LOS ANGELES (Dow Jones) – Microsoft Corp. said late Tuesday the next version of its Windows operating system won’t be available to consumers until January, a delay that means the product won’t be available in time for the key holiday sales season.

Microsoft shares fell more than 2% in evening trading following news of the delay. The stock closed the regular session off 0.5% at $27.74 and has ranged in price from $23.82 to $28.38 over the last 52 weeks.

Microsoft (MSFT) previously had said the software would be available for both consumer and corporate customers in the second half of this year. The software giant said in a statement it remains on track to ship the product to business users in November.

The Redmond, Wash.-based company aims to release a test version of Vista for consumers in the second quarter of this year.

Jim Allchin, co-president of Microsoft’s platforms and services division, said the industry requires a greater lead time to deliver Windows Vista on new personal computers during the holiday period.

“We must optimize for the industry, so we’ve decided to separate business and consumer availability,” the executive said.

Late last month, Microsoft had said it was on track to deliver the latest release of its operating system, a cash cow, in the second half of this year and in time for the holiday season.