Computers: Hardware, Software, Vaporware

Tardy technology bedevils an adolescent industry

Last June Steven Ballmer, a vice president of Microsoft, told the press that his company would ship an important new program called Windows "before the snow falls." Microsoft made the deadline with a day to spare, despite early blizzards last fall. But the arrival of Windows, which gives an IBM computer the look and feel of an Apple Macintosh, could hardly be described as timely. Ballmer had previously announced four different release dates for the program, beginning with April 1984, and Microsoft had missed them all. In the parlance of Silicon Valley, the software had turned into vaporware, a product that...

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