Sixteen Reasons the Windows Vista Era Never Quite Happened

By  |  Monday, August 10, 2009 at 12:13 am

The Wow Starts NowIn a small way, this is a significant post: It’s the first one in which I’m going to refer to Windows Vista in the past tense. Which might be premature and/or unreasonable–Windows 7 won’t reach consumers until October 22nd, and millions of copies of Vista will be in use for years to come. But last week, I was writing a piece on Windows 7 for PC World, and started to refer to “the Windows Vista era”–and then I realized that it’s hard to make the case that the Vista age ever started. (Even today, two and a half years after Vista’s release, 63 percent of the people who visit Technologizer on a Windows PC do so on Windows XP, versus 27 percent who use Vista–and if anything, you guys should be more likely than the world at large to have adopted Vista.) Already, I’m thinking of Vista as part of the past–in part because I’m looking forward to Windows 7.

More than most technology products, Vista seems to be entirely different things to different perfectly intelligent people. Some say its bad rep is unfair. Others continue to trash it. But you’ll have trouble finding many people outside of Redmond city limits who’ll contend that Vista has been a hit.

What happened?  It wasn’t one issue that hobbled Vista, it was all kinds of mishaps, none of which would have have been a disaster if it had been the only thing wrong. (In fact, most of them mirrored problems that had happened with earlier, far more successful versions of the OS, such as deadline problems and driver glitches.) Taken as a group, however, they confronted Windows Vista with both karmic and all-too-real difficulties that it never came close to resolving.

They included…

1. The delay. Microsoft’s blown deadlines left Vista arriving in January of 2007, a truly terrible time for a new operating system to debut. (At least from a marketing standpoint–you could make the case that it’s better to release one during a quiet time when fewer people will be impacted by its initial rough edges.) Arriving under a cloud of disappointment and embarrassment, more than five years after the last major version of Windows, just isn’t a great way for a hugely important new product to make its debut.

2. Unfulfilled hype. Yes, 99 percent of the people on the planet who use Windows weren’t listening when Bill Gates literally used the words “holy grail” to describe the WinFS file system that Microsoft was planning for Vista. So they didn’t notice when it wasn’t there. But the one percent who were paying attention to the years of pre-release hoopla that all turned out to be for naught were an influential bunch, and they tended to judge Vista more harshly than they would have if Microsoft hadn’t bragged about features it failed to implement.

Vista Ad3. Microsoft’s initial marketing also raised people’s expectations to bizarre heights. I mean, it wasn’t just the “The ‘Wow’ starts now” slogan, but also the fact that the company compared the upgrade to the American space program. Basically, it tried to pitch Vista as a Windows 95-like great leap forward, when it contained little in the way of life-changing improvements.

Flip3D4. It depended too much on misplaced glitz. Vista’s signature feature was the Aero user interface, which…drum roll!…consisted mostly of making the frames of windows transparent. Unless you bought a version of Windows that didn’t support Aero, or had a computer that wasn’t up to the task…in which case your windows remained defiantly opaque. Another much-touted feature, Flip3D task switching, seemed to mimic OS X’s Exposé…except it pointlessly made you shuffle through windows one-by-one in 3D space, while Exposé efficiently shows you all your windows at once. In both cases, Microsoft’s injection of “Wow” into the OS caused more problems than it solved.

5. Too many features were too little, too late. Vista added desktop search and Gadgets and better photo features, all of which made sense…but they were comparable to software which other companies had introduced as free downloads long before, such as Google’s Google Desktop, Google Gadgets, and Picasa. The other companies’ Windows-enhancing downloads all worked just fine with XP, and the more of them you’d already installed, the less reason there was to move to Vista.

6. It missed too many opportunities. For instance, what semi-serious Windows user wouldn’t rejoice at the notion of a System Tray that prevented applets from pestering you without permission? But the Vista System Tray did nothing to improve on XPs’ mess. There was a long list of things that were wrong with Windows XP, and while Vista fixed some of them–like the XP Start menu that could splay across the entire screen–it left too many broken things broken. (Windows 7 is so promising in part because it fixes so many longstanding Windows annoyances.)

7. Initial driver and application hassles. New versions of Windows always cause trouble for existing software, and Microsoft always seems too cavalier about it all. (Apple’s OS X upgrades can cause headaches of their own, but they’re less likely to screw up a meaningful percentage of the software you use.) For some reason, software developers and hardware manufacturers seem to have been slower to react to Vista’s release than usual–at least that’s my impression from both talking to executives within many of those companies and listening to real people tell tales of Vista woe.

vistacapable8. The “Vista Capable” mess. It was a self-inflicted wound of unimaginable proportions: Microsoft let PC makers slap a sticker on Windows XP machines that seemed to say they were good to go for Vista, when all they could handle was the basic version that lacked the hyped-to-the-heavens Aero interface. The legal woes that ensued were probably less damaging to Microsoft than the fact that the move guaranteed that large numbers of people would acquire Windows Vista and then be disappointed by it.

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41 Comments For This Post

  1. Rich Says:

    Excellent post. From my perspective, the Flip3D task switching was THE Vista feature that MS were promoting and showed it off in all their TV ads. When I bought my first Vista machine I thought it was GREAT….. for about 5 minutes and then got bored of it. I use Vista at home and have probably used Flip3D about 20 times in the last 2 years (5 of those by accident). I’m back to the good old combination.

    Here’s to the Windows 7 era!

  2. Richard Says:

    Harry,

    You mention the site stats about Vista v XP and the expectation that your “geek” audience should bump the Vista % upwards. Surely the geek crowd is exactly that which would know to er, regrade back to XP or to spec XP than the general consumer customer who would take whatever Dell etc where offering. Just a thought while I have my lunch ..

  3. Tim F. Says:

    No, # dedicated to UAC? The Microsoft Nanny State was and remains the biggest Vista annoyance.

  4. keidalgrim Says:

    Nice post, though I’m a Vista user (not by choice, just came with a laptop) and it really doesn’t seem so bad. That said, I’m also switching to an iMac in December.

    Enjoyed the post, regardless. Thanks.

    Keith

  5. ediedi Says:

    As said above: #1 – UAC’s ‘cancel or allow’ bull****, and
    #2 – drivers.

  6. william Says:

    Your points are well taken. One thing though: Microsoft puts a huge amount of effort into backward compatibility. The results may not be perfect, but it is not because Microsoft is “cavalier” about it. Of course, with Vista, the move to not allowing apps to run with administrative rights all the time intentionally broke backward compatibility to some extent.

    A general problem with Vista and Office and other mature software products: they have a feature set that satisfies most users. The marketing department invents new features in an attempt to motivate consumers to buy the new version. Adding new features that are of dubious value tends to make the software worse, not better.

  7. Steven Fisher Says:

    Actually, I think Faruk Ateş nailed Microsoft’s failure on Vista a couple of weeks ago:
    http://farukat.es/journal/2009/07/285-the-conquest-that-wasnt

    But we’ll know in November.

  8. shawn Says:

    Actually, I’ve had only one experience with Vista, and it was enough to cause me not to try it again. I bought my wife a new Compaq with it preloaded. Plain and simple, it takes forever to do things that XP does. And it changed things that XP did very well for no real reason. I put extra memory in and it helped. Put a dedicated graphics card in and it helped. But nothing can help the fact that the stupid picture upload from the camera cannot be utilized in the same way as XP. Seeing as this is my wife’s primary motivation for using the computer, it didnt help. So Im buying her a Mac.

  9. Bob D Says:

    The biggest one was simply wretched performance. The netbooks exposed this, but it was true on all hardware. Yes, if you had a high end machine, you could overcome it to some extent, but it was putting lipstick on a pig. I put Vista on four “Vista-capable” machines and had to revert to XP on two of them.

    Also, it did not address a lot of the longstanding problems with Windows – the crippling of lower end versions, the really annoying authentication (how about being able to upgrade your laptop’s hard drive without being assumed to be a criminal), the underlying rot of the registry, the “installing update 1 of 18, don’t you dare turn your computer off”, etc. You would think that Microsoft would learn from Vista and get this stuff right with 7, right? Well, it WILL run on netbooks.

    Lastly, how hard can it be to get sleep and hibernate working properly on a modern OS?

  10. John Baxter Says:

    ” I don’t remember anyone hailing XP as a masterpiece when it was released ”

    Well, you could try Paul Thurrott’s review posted in September 2001:
    .
    Which included as a subhead: A must-have upgrade for all Windows users.

    Maybe not “masterpiece” but certainly positive.

    I’ve had no significant problems with Vista starting with a Sony laptop bought with Vista installed shortly after that became possible and continuing with a Dell desktop bought last spring.

    The reason neither is running Vista any longer is that they are running Windows 7 RC (and the laptop had the beta before the RC was released).

    My perspective differs from most in that I’m a Mac user. I’m trying the Dell in part because of Apple’s famous release non-notes.

  11. Jim Broadknob Says:

    Had no driver problems from Vista apart from my Nvidia card for the first few months

    As for UAC, it’s very easy to turn off.

    7 is a much nicer OS but I still prefer Vista to XP, Vista was much more stable compared to XP

  12. linuxgeek118 Says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Vista was a complete waste of a release. Linux is the way to go man! :)

  13. Andrew Says:

    I had some early trouble with Vista giving a BSOD every time I tried to play a QuickTime video on a Toshiba M400 tablet. The problem was the hard disk controller driver and Toshiba eventually fixed it, but by then I’d ditched the computer in favor of a Lenovo ThinkPad T60 that ran Vista flawlessly.

    Since then, I’ve moved to a new ThinkPad T400 that also runs Vista flawlessly and switches between power-saving integrated graphics and almost gaming-grade discrete graphics on the fly, which Apple’s dual graphics MacBook Pro cannot do.

    7 is a nice evolutionary improvement over Vista, but Vista has matured into a nice and stable system, far better than XP ever was.

    I am primarily a Mac User with a MacBook Air as my primary work computer and a Mac issued to each of my employees (2 plastic MacBooks, 1 aluminum MacBook, 1 Mac Mini nVidia graphics and one aluminum iMac, plus my own MacBook Air. I have the ThinkPad running Vista because there are some things that Windows just does better than Mac OS, and likewise issue Macs because there are some things that Macs do far better than PCs. As I am the person who gets to fix computer problems, I prefer the more trouble-free Macs for my employees, and I don’t see Windows 7 changing that.

  14. Dummy Says:

    I bought an HP desktop with Vista pre-installed, and have used it without problem… seriously. It’s a powerful PC, but I find the overall experience better than XP.. and I really liked XP. The networking module in Vista made it extremely easy to set up a wireless home-network, which was important to me since I have limited knowledge about networking.

    I also like that there’s enough backward compatibility that many simple utilities that worked XP still work on Vista.

    I will add that if I hadn’t needed a new PC, I would not have paid for Vista. Wasn’t the price something outrageous… like $150 or something.

  15. Eric Hamby Says:

    12. Apple’s operating system?

    Incase you forgot, OSX 10.5 had so MAJOR problems of its own and even bombed itself. There was problems that Apple fixed 10 years ago that had shown back up in 10.5. It wassnt untill they started releasing updates that it started picking up, just like Vista.

  16. António Trindade Says:

    I have used Windows since 3.0 back in 1991. I used every Windows version up to XP, including NT and 2000. I switched to Mac OS in June 2008. Why, you may ask?
    I was tired of waiting two minutes to load Microsoft Word (My computer back then had 512MB of RAM and was a Intel Celeron 1.3GHz Tualatin) and over 1:30 just to boot the OS.
    I was tired of having to install anti-virus and firewall software. I was tired of updating my computer every day. I was tired of blue screens of death.

    With the Mac, I have a computer that boots in 30 seconds, Microsoft Word only takes 30 seconds to load (the Apple equivalent, although not as powerful and feature-laden, loads in less than 10 seconds). I do not have to worry with anti-virus software or firewalls, I only had two crashes (grey screens, equivalent to blue screens on Windows) in over a year of using it.
    Other things are better, too. When you click the close button on a Windows window, the OS does the necessary cleanup and the the window disappears; on the Mac, the opposite happens (the cleanup is done AFTER the window closes), which helps give the OS a more responsive feel.
    I can do everything I did with the Windows PC, the major exception being gaming (there are lots more games for Windows than for Mac), but I can still install Windows using Boot Camp.

    More, Those features like windows effects, transparencies, etc, all appeared on the Mac long before the saw the light on Windows. As a matter of fact, you could have those effects in Windows 95, if you used WindowBlinds and the likes. Having said this, Microsoft is no longer the innovative company it used to be. Nowadays, it’s always behind others.

    This is just my two cents about this issue, if you do not agree, please respect my opinions, as I’ll do with yours.

  17. bhargav Says:

    I think it was simply not fair for hardware vendors to ship vista with 1 GB Ram. Now you see vista with free upgrade to windows 7 typically with 3 GB. So partially Microsoft along with OEM partners is responsible.

  18. SurlySue Says:

    #17: Bad press!

  19. Wes Says:

    I have always said that Windows Vista development and rollout was the equivalent to that of what became OS X version 10.0. Years of development, besieged with problems, delays and even a starting over on development while making a “quicky” upgrade to the old OS (Mac OS 9, Windows XP SP2) pretty much forced both companies (Apple 2001, Microsoft 2006) to release an OS that was not ready. Remember OS X was so slow, buggy and bloated that most Apple machines still booted into OS 9.

    Remember this review? “Mac OS X shows tremendous promise, which is a nice way of saying that the 10.0 release is not quite ready for prime time. This is most certainly an early adopter’s OS release. Interface responsiveness and effective stability are the two biggest fundamental problems, but missing features and compatibility issues rank just as high if you actually intend to use OS X as a full Mac OS 9 replacement: the 10.0 release cannot view DVD movies; printer drivers are still scarce; CD burning is not yet supported, even by Apple’s own iTunes CD authoring application; and a lot of hardware (like my G3/400′s serial port adapter to which my printer is attached) seem destined to be orphaned forever.”
    http://arstechnica.com/reviews/01q2/macos-x-final/macos-x-1.html

    That it took Apple three years to get all the major kinks out of the system is forgotten by Mac partisans, and unknown to the new switchers who started flocking to OS X after 10.3 was released. OS X 10.1, like Vista SP1 fixed most of the egregious issues with OS X, but it wasn’t until 10.3 that APIs were finally finalized and the OS looked and felt solid. I know people will take this the wrong way, but I think Windows 7 is very much like OS X 10.3 like that, right on down to the fact that the companies felt confident enough in the internals to introduce enhancements to the interface. Note that Expose was introduced in 10.3, like today Microsoft introduced Aero Peek to W.7.

    The major differences between the two stories are external. OS X was release back when Apple was still near rock bottom, but that insulated them from the public eye somewhat. Apple is freer to start off with something incomplete and refine it until it is working , as its base at the time was the true-true believers. Fortunately, by the time the iPod proved to be a success, they were up to 10.3, 10.4 and 10.5. Microsoft, however was near the top of its game but was beginning to take assault from the resurgent Apple (at 10.3 and 10.4). Vista was a bigger stumble because it was a much more public stumble.

  20. Chris Lees Says:

    Windows 7 is simply Vista, tweaked a little, with a new task bar. If you run Windows 7 with the same hardware and software that people were trying to run Vista on back in Jan 07, you’ll have exactly the same issues (minus the slow file copying).

    What’s changed? Newer hardware has more RAM. Newer software is Vista-compatible and won’t fire up as many UAC prompts. Newer hardware has Vista drivers. OF COURSE if you try to run Windows 7 on a Vista-era machine, it will run better than Vista did on an XP-era machine!

  21. Matt M Says:

    I have used and installed on my family’s and friend’s computers the following OS’s over the years:

    Windows 3.11 for Workgroups
    Windows 95 OSR2 (yes, I waited!)
    Windows 98
    Windows 98 Second Edition
    Windows ME (yes, ME)
    Windows XP (then SP1, SP2, and now SP3)

    I have always gone through every couple of years and backed up documents, etc, and done clean installs with the latest hardware drivers, etc, for all of these Microsoft OS’s. They all worked better than the previous OS.

    Remarkably, I didn’t have ANY issues with Windows ME, which I know is *rare*, due to the grief I hear from pretty much everyone else. Maybe it is because I always did “clean installs”, and made sure that the computer had 64MB of RAM. (Anything less and Windows ME did kinda run slowly.)

    This pattern stopped with Windows Vista. Windows Vista, even on BRAND NEW top-of-the-line machines (like my Dell XPS M1530 with 4GB RAM, 7200rpm Hard Drive, Intel Core 2 Duo 9500, etc), ran like SLUDGE. Slow, unreponsive, buggy — a complete DEBACLE and an utter TRAVESTY.

    People complained, and even I couldn’t stand using it. So, OUT went Vista, and back ON went Windows XP SP3. And, let me tell you, after living with Vista for a month or two, going back to XP was like upgrading your car from a Yugo to a Porsche! INSTANTLY 10x faster. Clicking on something seemed to pop up a menu before you even finished the click. I couldn’t believe the difference.

    Windows XP SP3 is simply the best, fastest, most reliable OS Microsoft has ever produced. The sad truth is, it takes Microsoft seven years to finally get an OS “right”. And I’m not a Mac fanatic at all. In fact, as I stated above, I have been a Microsoft user since my first PC in 1991 (ah, good old DOS.) But, Microsoft DROPPED THE BALL with Vista. I’m sorry, but as far as my experiences go, Vista is WORSE THAN Windows “ME”.

    I have high hopes for Windows 7, despite the fact that unfortunately, it is based on Windows Vista (as in version 6.1 over version 6.0). I feel like Vista is such a terrible code base, they should have started completely from scratch again. But, maybe around Windows 7 SP12, in the year 2014, they’ll have as good an OS as XP is nowadays. Hey, by then, computers will have the 512 GB of RAM and the 20GHz 8-core CPUs needed to run the Vista code base!! (Ok, I’m half joking. I know, I know, supposedly they’ve tweaked Windows 7 to not be such a resource hog! Time will tell.)

    I cannot emphasize enough how absolutely horrible Windows Vista is. I was psyched for it after the 5-year wait. After getting through the eye candy, it pretty much sucked and made computing a miserable experience. And I’m a power user!!! You can imagine how my non-tech friends felt! They couldn’t even figure out simple tasks! Why would you make a newer OS *harder* to use than the previous one??? What a humungous letdown.

    Early tests with Windows 7 look more promising. Maybe after a couple of years, that will be the next OS to go on these machines. But for now, I will stick with the blazingly-fast, rock-hardened stable, time-tested mature OS called Windows XP SP3.

    Don’t let the M$ freaks tell you otherwise. I have high-spec machines, and Vista blew chunks. You shouldn’t have to have a $10,000 gaming rig to run a MAINSTREAM Operating System at acceptable speeds. Heck, you should even be able to use middle-of-the-road configurations on such an OS if Microsoft is positioning it to be in the Home.

    And, finally, Vista added insult to injury by their GREEDY pricing scheme. Vista was MORE expensive than XP for the same feature set. Why would you pay MORE for your computer to perform LESS?? We’ve gotten so used to software costing MORE than the hardware it runs on!!! MS-DOS was less than $100, as were early versions of Windows. In fact, Windows 95 was only $99 as an upgrade to Windows 3.1. And that contained ALL of the features! (Yes, Plus! added extra themes and such for a few $$$ more, but not critical features.) To get all of the features that they added to Vista, you have to pay a LOT of extra $$$$.

    If they were SMART, Windows 7 should cost $99, PERIOD. And maybe Windows 7 Ultimate would be $149. That should be IT. Microsoft is greedy and is paying the price. Nearly 70% of computers still run Windows XP. And I agree, Windows 7 will most likely cannibalize the Windows Vista user base more than eat up XP. Who wants to spend $300 on an OS???? You can buy an entire Netbook for that price!

    While I am not a Mac user in any way, I do own an iPhone. Full disclosure. It’s pretty amazing. But, I’m not ready to go buy a MacBook Pro, as beautiful as the new ones look. All of my software is Windows-based. I just have this feeling that I’ll still be using Windows XP until it’s official “end of life” in 2014. ;)

    XP Service Pack 4, anyone?

  22. Antony Says:

    Well, all good points. I am a geek and I use Linux as my primary system on every machine at home and when I can at work as well. I think this is (in Europe) the main competitor to MS Vista. The percentage of Mac users is now much smaller than Linux users, probably 3 to 1 over here. I do not buy anything that does not support Linux. Period.
    Anyway, this is my personal experience with Vista: I bought a dell laptop fitted with VISTA in 2007 and I got annoyed in 2 days. Ditched it for Ubuntu and now I’m 100% fine. Also a colleague of mine bought a sony vaio laptop in 2008 with Vista and he had to downgrade to XP because it took minutes to hibernate. XP works perfectly fine on the same HW.
    Anyway, I do not understand why people should give any trust to Microsoft / PC Vendors concerning windows 7 after the mess they have created with Vista.

  23. Peter T. Says:

    Point 9 (which you missed) is Vista Ultimate and the “specials and extras” that still have not materialised.

  24. emk Says:

    Vista failed to answer the ‘why’ question. Why should I spend the time money, effort and pain to switch from XP? THis was especially true for business users. There was simply no compelling reason to switch, and pretty user interfaces don’t count.

    Win 7 will face the same problem. What exactly is its value proposition? Why should businesses switch? Still Win7 will probably do better than Vista did, given what we know about it today. Nevertheless, it seems Microsoft’s upgrade treadmill is at its end of life.

    We should also note that if Win7 is released in October, it will be released into a recession. It have better be really good. In addition Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala will also be released in October. Comparisons will inevitably follow, I suspect to Microsoft’s cost.

    emk

  25. Martin Says:

    …but let’s face it. Vista drivers are broken, If you install a WinXP Driver, Vista will crash (blue screen) and not recover on the reboot. You had to go up on Safe Mode and remember the drivers filename to erase them. It is very delicated with the drivers you install. Vista should not allow install any driver that will crash it, or do not crash over a faulty driver and do not allow the device to work. But instead it gives a blue screen.

    ..and, what about all the WinXP apps that doesn’t work on Vista. There are several applications that need to be tweek so they can work on Vista. Many customer requested me a downgrade from XP to Vista because of that.

    ..On a P4 with 2Gb of RAM Vista sucks, lets face it, it only work on dual core processors and with an excelent Graphics card.

  26. Mike Says:

    Close . . .
    This article is not correct; there are 3 core reasons why Vista failed.
    I will first explain why I think the article is incorrect. Don’t get me wrong; All of the reasons stated are in some way to some people factors; I just think there are really only three key factors and none were discussed in the article.
    1: (1)the article said the delay was a major factor . . . there has never been a microsoft product that was delivered when it was suppose to be. I rule that one out for that reason.
    2: (2-5) unfulfilled hype . . . yes that was the case but again microsoft always hypes its products; over promises and under delivers so how is it any different for Vista? this really covers 2 through 5.
    3: (6) missed too many opportunities . . . come on; they have 96% market share . . . hello! Not buying it. During the 5 year development did Linux or Mac all of a sudden take over? how about Novel . . . ?
    4: (7) initial driver and software issues . . . same ole same ole. again, this is and has always been how microsoft does things. just go to wikipedia and read about microsoft DOS 4.0, or the Windows 95 debacle; there are hundreds of examples of this problem in almost every product microsoft produces. If that really was a factor then windows 3.0, 3.1 and workgroups, Windows 95,98, NT for sure would have also failed in the market place.
    5: (8) vista capable mess. no not a big factor at all.
    6: (9) iffy hardware. now he is saying it was the hardware; does this guy work for microsoft?
    7: (10) shaky . . . well this I agree with completely; but again I don’t atribute it to the fall of Vista. millions of computers were sold with vista; millions of people still use it for the basics and for that it works ok. It is the corporate use that is a real factor. corporate use world wide was under 12%. Vista just didn’t work well enough for anyone other than a casual user.
    8: (11-15) marketing and Apples OSX, the Mac commercials and Netbooks. sure none of those helped Microsoft but again they have 96% market share. when a company has 96% market share all they have to do is produce a good product. Listen to those that purchase the product.
    9: (16) The viability of XP, now your talking . . . in the past each successor was better; an example: 95 OSR2 to 98; 98 was better than 95, you had true USB support, internet and WAN configuration was advanced and easier to handle. Virtual Machines memory issues were more stable. If XP had not been so mature and so well accepted more people; many more would have switched to Vista . . so as you can see in the past each newer version was actually better in ways then its predecessor. Vista though choked on its own massive changes; people did not like vista because it just didn’t work well enough beyond the basics.

    The 3 key reasons Vista failed.
    1: It was too drastically different than XP.
    2: lacking software compatibility … even with its own products
    3: the user interface was not intuitive to use.

    Those really are the main failing points for Vista.

    XP is so well know and so stable.
    Too confussing on what version was right for whom.

  27. QuantumIguana Says:

    Vista was a solution in search of a problem. XP worked quite well. All Vista did was give us a nice shiny interface. All for the cost of a dramatic decrease in speed and hardware and software that no longer worked.

    If you really dig into Vista, you see that there are some really primitive bits left over. Go into notepad, and print to a file. You still have the same primitive interface where you can only enter the output file name, there is no path selection screen. Or go into Fonts and select Install New Font: You’ll get a Windows 98 style dialog. Or go into Administrative Tools and try to add an ODBC Data Source: Another Win 98 style dialog.

    Maybe most people won’t use these things, but it indicates that the “upgrade” to Vista is rather superficial. It annoys me that I have to go into the Control Panel to access printers, while in XP it was right off the start menu. I find the constant prompts asking if I really want to run this software annoying. Yes, I want to run the software, that’s why I clicked on it!

    I don’t like Windows Media Center for a couple reasons. One, it doesn’t recognize digital subchannels. The other is the propriatary format it uses.

    If Microsoft wants to make changes that will really make their OS better, I have a few suggestions. How about elimination restarts after installing software? Make an OS that can handle this without a restart. Or how about ending programs more smoothly? How many times have you had a program that locks up, and Windows is unable to end the program. Windows should be able to SMITE any program that you want smitten.

    I use Vista at home, it’s tolerable, because I am mostly just using a web browser. But to actually have to WORK with Vista, that’s pretty awful.

  28. Kayza Kleinman Says:

    The performance issue has been a crucial one for us. For a long time I simply avoided getting machines with Vista, based on the feedback from people whose experience I respected. Mot of the UI complaints mirrored stuff that I had heard about XP, and didn’t seem significant to me. After all, I don’t think that the existence of “eye candy” is so important, but it’s also not such a big issue. By the same token, failure to live up to the hype didn’t impress me, but it didn’t worry me. But the complaints about things like performance DID worry me and it was these functional issues that kept me from Vista.

    I’m very glad I stayed away. A few months ago, I replaced a computer for one of our staff. This was a relatively high end machine – Intel Quad core, 4 gb RAM, dedicated video card. Truthfully, I expected it to be real overkill for 90% of the work it was intended for (email, wordprocessing, spreadsheet and access to a custom database), but between the fact that computers here tend to stay in use between 5-7 years, and there was one regular task that this user was doing that would take advantage of the power, it made sense. This new computer replaced a four year old machine (which was moved to a different spot) running XP. It didn’t take more than a few days before initial enthusiasm for the nicer aspects of the Vista interface to be replaced by a request for the old computer back, since it was so much faster and more stable (Outlook was either crawling or crashing.) First I tried performance tweaks. Still way too slow. I put XP onto that computer, we’ve got a happy camper.

    This user is not change averse, nor part of the technorati that is part of what sometimes seems like an echo chamber, going on about the ills of Vista. This person IS willing to learn and change established ways of doing things. But it’s not reasonable to expect people to restart workhorse apps several times a day, nor is it realistic for people to have to wait a full minute to move from one email to the next. That’s the kind of problem we had on vista, and that just went away when we reverted to XP. Never mind the “non-standard” app that wouldn’t even install on Vista – I’m talking about Office 2003.

  29. Ben Says:

    Here in Australia I can buy a whole netbook with 1gb ram, 160gb hd, build in webcam with Windows XP home for $499 and Microsoft is selling Windows 7 ultimate for $399. In my opinion I think the biggest thing going against upgrading to Windows 7 is the price! I look at it and think “What is the difference between XP?”

    From a business perspective I always ask the question “What will I have that I don’t have now” and the answer in my case is just a fancy looking desktop and it might not run all my old software. When Vista first came out I remember paying over $400 for the upgrade copy and I was so disappointed by the slowness and problems that I had to reinstall XP. Microsoft has lost my trust this time! I think people who bought Vista upgrade should get a serious discount on Windows 7 maybe $99 AUD or something similar.

    I will conclude by asking why I would bother to upgrade Windows for perfectly working computers. I think Microsoft need’s to reevaluate the price of its product compared to the benefits consumers will see.

  30. Digital Ghost Says:

    The whole article gets it completely wrong. The reason I wont touch Vista or Vista 2 can be summed up as “DRM”. This seems to entirely escape the author.

    Vista was not slow because of “driver issues”, Vista was slow because it had to check every element of the computer for “tampering” multiple times per second. This made Vista completely unsuitable for authoring multimedia.

    From day One, Vista (and windows 7) treats me as a criminal instead of a customer. It makes my job harder, not easier. That most people decided that they would not pay to be forced to swallow this poison pill is completely sensible.

    Now we have the full weight of the Microsoft PR machine trying to gloss over these basic design flaws, and paying for positive reviews all over the net because they believe the only thing wrong with Vista was a PR problem. Its not, never was.

    Vista and Windows 7 make your machine less functional, less useful. I for one wont touch it, or support it. Anyone who asks will be told the truth. Switch to Linux or stick with XP.

    Windows 7 25% less pig, 50% more lipstick.

    Let the astroturfing flames begin, Ubuntu FTW.

  31. US41 Says:

    This article = Epic fail.

    The downfall of Vista was simply that it is slow. It takes 17x the amount of time that Windows XP does to copy music to an ipod, copy music from one folder to another, or to back up to a USB hard drive.

    Ask any non technology person why they hate vista, and they will say, “It’s so SLOW!”

  32. Walt Says:

    I too progressed from good ole DOS to XP SP3. There is no need to go further. All my software works, my machine doesn’t crash, and I get done what I need to get done.

    Vista offered no certainties. Win7 doesn’t either. They do offer the possibility that none of your stuff works. The possibility that you’ll spend days loading and reloading looms strongly in the air. And finally, the ‘upgrade’ costs for the software and hardware are exorbitant.

    If I could get my windows based programs to work correctly on Linux I’d forever wipe windows into oblivion.

  33. Paul Says:

    The number one reason that I did not switch to Vista from XP when it was released was because of the issues that Microsoft had on and beyond launch day with Network Associates (Mcafee) and Norton. Because previous versions of both AV software’s worked on a level no longer allowed by the OS I was left to wonder why I couldn’t roll my current AV software I just renewed for a year over to Vista, and to make the transition to Vista.

  34. Ron Says:

    I purchased Vista a tried to install on my then 1 year old Dell laptop and the performance was terrible compared to XP. The time it took to copy the “my documents” folder from my external drive was terrible. Then the whole UAC mess when I wanted to install anything. The footprint for just Vista was huge compared to XP. I went back to XP just to get any kind of performance and more disk space on my 100g laptop drive. I know the copy file problem was fixed in SP1. The time it took me to upgrade compare to the benefits made me give up on windows and buy a Macbook pro 6 months ago.

  35. Chad Says:

    Vista is awesome

  36. Casey Says:

    I would argue that many didn’t feel that XP was no better than 2000. Enthusiast and gaming sites all recommended users stick with 2000 for business and 9x for gaming. It wasn’t until SP1 (or later) that that changed.

    Clearly most businesses didn’t join the XP party until after SP2 (which was effectively a new OS).

    And that’s the crux of the issue. If XP SP2 had been called “Windows Awesome”, the pundits would have declared XP a failure. Businesses would have skipped XP (which means it never would have gotten close to 40% of business desktops, much less become the dominant OS) for Awesome.

    Businesses held on to 2000 until support ended and then they moved in mass. Even in 2005, it was a distant 2nd.

    While I agree that the release date was bad, I don’t think it had any affect on Vista’s sales. The AWFUL drivers from AMD, Nvidia and Creative hurt them badly. That’s what caused some early adopters to tell people to avoid Vista. By SP1 (really by the summer of 2007), the major issues were resolved, but the damage was done.

    Google’s apps are largely irrelevant to the masses. Most of them have never used Firefox, and I see far more references to it than I do to Google Desktop Search, never mind their photo editor. If I was to recommend an aftermarket search for XP, Vista or 7, it’d be Copernic. I avoid all things google, because they remind me too much of MS in the 90′s. Nevertheless, nobody is going to get Copernic either.

    Agree completely about crapware on PCs. And it will be there on low end PCs with 7.

    Can’t speak to your system(s), but Vista works fine on a 4 year-old A64 and it worked fine on a E4300 build from 2.5 years ago.

    The latter is now on 7 RTM, and I have more issues with it than Vista. Mouse is sketchy. One app crashes if I go into sleep mode and there are some other little issues

    And yes, I highly recommend 7. But it’s not perfect…and frankly, I don’t see much of a difference between it and Vista (aside from the fact that Sidebar no longer seems have a HUGE memory leak).

  37. thepeng Says:

    Ive followed the vista vs xp debate fairly closely over the years, and frankly Im starting to feel like a freak. I am pleased with vista, Ive got 64 bit home premium on an amd dual core laptop with an nvidia 7150m graphics card and 4 gigs of ram, which really isn’t optimum. The thing is, Ive never turned on aero, in fact until I read these comments I didnt even register that I had it. I don’t use any special software, built in or third party for my media tasks besides ms picture viewer, vlc media, and win mp(although I have always hated it). When I manage my files I create a folder and put what I want in there with my mouse. Microsoft office has always been more complicated than I need, I use wordpad. I guess what I did was take my vista computer, strip it down to barebones and then used it like XP. Anyways, Ive never had any backward compatibility issues and I still play C&C Red alert and everything in between. In my experience Vista is markedly more stable than XP, and I am rarely thwarted in what I want to accomplish for no apparent reason like I was with XP, chiefly clicking on an icon and having nothing happen, at all, ever. In fact I can’t recall a time when windows explorer stopped working on vista. Ive never had a fatal exception, or a crashing error, and I put my machine under heavy, heavy loads(converting and compressing video for hours). I guess I just got lucky, but vista handles things XP never could for me, and in fact plays games that XP just wouldn’t do(empire earth for example) on the same specs. I do use a dual boot of slackware linux when i want something serious done, but so should everybody.

    the one thing I truly hate, I mean venom spitting kicking kittens anger is the “Do you really want to run this program” bulls**t that appears randomly or minutes after my program has failed to load. Its not security, and it doesnt do it for every program. Its random and frustrating and paired with “Do you want to let this program access the internet, but im not asking you until youve already gone through every setting you have and closed the program in frustration” box, I can become rather tetchy and just switch to linux and an emulator.

  38. Mark Says:

    Vista is terrible, for sure. Before changing to Windows 7 RC (64bit), my pc was running XP 64bit. Using the RC for a month now.

    Compared to Vista and XP, windows 7 is more smooth. The Vista feel is gone with 7, it’s fast and just feels vary stable. Compared to XP it’s faster (especially after running for a while), and appears to have much more control over what happens inside.

    Of course, nothing has been scientifically tested, just an experience, but my conclusion is that 7 is better than both vista and XP. Could be interesting to see if Linux and Mac users will make the jump. The other way around is not likely to happen if you ask me.

  39. Jason Says:

    I like Vista overall, but two things with Vista that really tick me off. The first is that some of my software will absolutely not work with Vista. I have an old pc setup with an earlier version of Windows to get around that. The other is drivers for devices. I have an HP printer that’s a couple of years old that HP will not support but I can trade it in for $15.00 towards a new one. It’s a $400 printer! That was insulting. Yet my 9 year old G55 works with Vista, go figure. I hope that Windows 7 will solve that issue.

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  41. Bryan Says:

    It's 2011 now. Your article has withstood the test of time. As a long time lover of Windows XP, I finally made the jump to Windows 7 (in a VM). But in the mean time had uninstalled every installation of Windows Vista and Windows ME that I ever ran across. And in the mean time, switched to MacOS X on all of my household computers.

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