Microsoft said yesterday that it will run promotions for Windows Vista to tie in with the Christmas-shopping season in November and December. The move is aimed at ensuring PC sales remain strong despite Vista's delay in shipping until next year.

The company is working with partners on the issue, it said in a statement sent via email by its public relations firm. But it declined to comment on specific plans, saying more information will come later.

Analysts have suggested the company offer coupons for customers purchasing PCs that will support Vista so they can easily obtain the OS (operating system) or buy it at a discount once available.

In March, Microsoft delayed the widespread release of Vista until January 2007, a move that is expected to discourage PC sales during the busy holiday shopping season. The company originally had expected to have Vista on PCs by that time. Some analysts, including those at Gartner, have predicted that the general availability of the OS may slip even further into 2007.

At this point, according to Microsoft's current Vista release schedule, business customers will be able to purchase Vista through volume licensing by the end of 2006, with the general release of the OS coming early next year.

Microsoft has already been trying to prepare customers to purchase PCs that will be ready to run Vista when it is available. In May the company launched a website outlining the minimum hardware requirements for Vista.

The Get Ready site outlines the requirements for running both low-end versions of Vista or higher-end versions that take advantage of the OS' Aero graphical user interface capabilities. It provides a tool so users could test whether their current hardware can support different versions of Vista.