Windows Vista: A RetrospectMikey 15 comments
Now that Windows 7 is finally official, I think it's safe to say that Microsoft had no intention of Vista ever being a long term affair. Vista was essentially the Windows Me of the WinNT world, and despite its many failings, we needed it to happen. Watching Vista earn a reputation out in the wild was like watching a technical soap opera, and with good reason.
Over promised, underwhelming
Vista, just like XP before it, was met with fierce resistance from both hardware vendors and users alike. The significant upgrade requirements were more than enough to stop businesses from adopting Vista, because that usually meant a costly hardware upgrade or as is the case for Notebook owners, buying a brand new one.
The lack of software and driver support didn't help things either. Nvidia were most notable and rightfully outed for being especially lazy in delivering drivers in an acceptable amount of time, which no doubt contributed to Vistas reluctant adoption by gamers and those who rely on video performance for a living.
Hardware wise, lest we forget the infamous boycott by Intel, who was so disillusioned with the new OS that they decided to dismiss it and stick by XP. This controversy became compounded when Microsoft announced that a downgrade fee would be applicable for those who had purchased a Vista upgrade but later decided they wanted to go back to XP. Ironic, given that Vistas poor record and lacklustre performance meant going back to XP was considered by many to be an upgrade.
But Microsoft managed to turn this negative into a positive. With embarrassing sales making Vista look bad, Microsoft took the 'unique' initiative of fudging the sales figures by counting Vista 'downgrade' licences which could be applied to XP as a Vista sale.
Pick a version, any version
Last but not least there were the confusing version options. Buy the Home Premium version and miss out on joining a domain – fair enough – but buy the Business version and miss out on being able to watch a DVD. It didn't make any sense that a more expensive version of Vista would not include all of the features of the lesser priced versions. These were all essentially different versions of Vista with different feature sets, with barely any overlap between them. In order to have it all you would need to fork out for the Ultimate version, which was so insanely over-priced that it couldn't be justified by the average user.
And for those who did buy the Ultimate version, they were lured by the potential of Ultimate Extras, which Microsoft promised would be released at regular intervals only to Ultimate users, and we all know how that turned out. Microsoft, in a rare display of conceded responsibility, admitted failure on their part to deliver on the Ultimate Extras promise. A few lousy games, video wallpapers and an upgrade to Bitlocker weren't worthy of the title ‘Ultimate Extras', and certainly not worth the price tag that came with Ultimate.
It wasn't looking good for Vista and failure seemed inevitable, but as I mentioned earlier, we needed Vista to arrive where we are today.
Learning from past mistakes
Windows 7 is easily the most robust, reliable, fastest and easiest to use Windows ever, (even I can testify to the fact) and is rightfully being considered by many as Microsoft's most significant OS release since Windows 95.
The reason for that is obvious: Microsoft has had two and a half years of Vista failings and customer regrets to learn from and rectify for Windows 7, and they knew that that if they didn't get it right this time there would be serious consequences.
In all fairness, Vista actually worked rather well for the few who were able to deal with the issues or those who rarely had any at all with it: I fall into the latter camp. I was an early adopter and after a few days using it I never looked back.
Vista, despite its many failings, is the OS we had to have, and unfortunately pay for. Now Windows 7 is here, it's everything Vista should have been and then some.
As an early adopter of Windows 7 (I've been using it as my full time OS since the beta release), I can tell you without any uncertainty that it's a massive step forward for Microsoft.
It's fast, reliable, has a stack of improvements, and best of all Microsoft hasn't made any unrealistic promises this time.
It seems they learned their lesson.