ModusLink has said it regrets the lengthy delay experienced by customers awaiting Vista upgrades, but has pointed the finger of blame squarely at PC manufacturers.
As we reported previously, customers who had purchased computers before the release of Microsoft's long-awaited operating system on 31 January had been promised that if they redeemed a voucher by no later than 31 March 2007 a copy of Vista would soon be flying their way.
It had been seen as a good incentive for retailers to sell more XP-based machines during the Christmas rush by slapping a Vista-ready label on PCs with the offer of a free upgrade.
But many customers who tried to exchange their vouchers through Microsoft's European "fulfillment partner", ModusLink, found themselves waiting much longer for their upgrade to arrive.
Speaking to The Register about what had caused the backlog, ModusLink marketing and communications manager Christine Pothier said:
"We were in a tough place; we just didn't have the product to ship. We don't own the relationship technically with the customer we're just the facilitator who works with the vendors. You're in somewhat of a tight position there."
She told us that although the firm regretted the frustration customers had experienced she claimed that delivering the product on time was prevented due to delays experienced by OEM manufacturers.
Pothier said the original date for shipment had been set depending on PC manufacturer to between four and eight weeks after the commercial release of Vista.
"We didn't receive the product until the mid-March timeframe and in some cases later...Obviously as soon as we did receive the product we started shipping in volume according to guidelines set by the PC manufacturer."
She was unwilling to provide specific details about which manufacturers had been particularly slow to ship Vista upgrades to ModusLink.
The firm, which claims on its website to "cut time, money and risk out of technology companies' supply chains", works closely with big name OEM clients that include Dell, HP and Toshiba.
In an earlier story about the delayed upgrades, Microsoft had told El Reg that ModusLink had simply been overwhelmed by a "spike" in demand for Vista.
However, Pothier debunked the claim and said: "The number of orders was not overwhelming and has nothing to do with why shipment was delayed; it has solely to do with the fact that we didn't have the product to ship."
When asked what lessons had been learned from the delay, Pothier said: "In a programme like this there are certain things that we would have to look at in the future such as ensuring product is received when it is supposed to be to avoid a similar thing happening.
"We were promised product at a certain time and it didn't come in."
She added that "we've worked very closely with Microsoft on this entire programme and they do understand some of the obstacles that we faced such as the lack of shipment".
"I don't see it affecting our relationship moving forward." ®