In the wake of delays to the Vista version of Windows, Microsoft is moving the head of its Office software to get the operating system moving.

Steve Sinofsky, the "no-nonsense" leader of the Office team, will take over the delay-prone Windows division from Jim Allchin, who is due to retire as co-president of the platform products and services division at the end of 2006, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Allchin's retirement was supposed to coincide with the delivery of Vista, but "sources familiar with the matter" told the WSJ that Sinofsky will be brought in, along with other organisational moves, following the announcement that Vista was delayed.

On Tuesday, Allchin announced that the consumer version of Vista will be pushed back until January 2007, which means Windows Vista PCs will not be on retail shelves in time for Christmas. Still, Allchin said that the development of the OS will be complete by the end of the year, so he still plans to leave the company then.

A Microsoft spokeswoman would not confirm the changes in leadership at Microsoft, saying the company is not reporting any organisational moves at this time.

Sinofsky joined Microsoft in 1989 as a software design engineer, and has worked his way up the ranks since then. He has been with the Office team since its formation in 1994, first serving as the director of program management for that group. While the Windows division is known for its inability to get products out on schedule, says the WSJ, Microsoft Office releases come on a predictable and steady basis.

Industry reaction to the Vista's delay was swift and decisive. The stock prices of Microsoft and its hardware partners Dell and Hewlett-Packard fell in after-hours trading on Tuesday. Industry analysts generally saw the delay as embarrassing for Microsoft, but more damaging for hardware and retail partners, who were expecting to get a revenue surge from Vista PC sales during the Christmas period.