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Windows Vista: 5 things you might not know about Microsoft's messiest OS release

It's Windows Vista's birthday! Windows Vista was officially released on January 30, 2007, according to Microsoft. It is known as Microsoft's messiest OS release ever. It took a long time to develop, it was buggy at launch, required users to upgrade their hardware to experience the best new features, and was super expensive. If that isn't enough already, here are a few reasons why Windows Vista failed.

Development Reset

Windows Vista is the only version of Windows in history to have its development reset mid-cycle due to the OS being off course and way behind schedule. Originally codenamed Longhorn, Microsoft began development on Windows Vista in 2001, shortly before the launch of Windows XP. It had forecasted its launch for sometime in 2003, but over time it became increasingly obvious that that deadline was never going to be met. Microsoft added too many new features and technologies into the OS that it had become a total mess.

There was nothing Microsoft could do to fix the problem in a timely manner, so in 2004 it made the decision to reset development, scrapping a lot of the new code it had been working on in favor of a clean slate. It would be years before Microsoft finally shipped Windows Vista, three years overdue. The development reset helped, however, as it got Microsoft back on track and focused on what was most important for this release.

User Account Control

One of the reasons many people disliked Windows Vista was because of Microsoft's new account control that was supposed to help keep you secure. It was a prompt that popped up whenever you wanted to run a program or open a file. It generated too many popups too often, however, and became more of a pain for users than helpful. While it did keep Vista secure, it was more of an annoyance than anything.

Microsoft later improved User Account Control in Windows 7, dialing it back a bit so that it wasn't as in your face as it was in Vista. User Account Control is actually still in use in Windows today; you can even find it in Windows 10. It's still a feature that keeps rogue programs from running in the background without your permission, keeping you safe from malware and viruses.

Hardware Requirements

One of the biggest problems with Windows Vista was its demanding specifications. At the time, Windows Vista was a bit too new and heavy for a lot of the PCs on the market at the time, which means the OS felt slow and cumbersome on some older Windows XP based machines. Windows Vista was a necessary step in upping hardware requirements, however, otherwise the OS would not be able to progress and improve.

Still, that didn't stop users from complaining. Vista relied heavily on new hardware that was up to scratch, but many existing Windows users simply didn't have that hardware. There were also some "premium" features in Windows Vista, such as Aero, that was only available to users who had the hardware to run it. It was also only available on some SKUs, adding insult to injury.

Pricing

Windows Vista was not cheap. When it originally launched, Microsoft was charging almost $400 for the Ultimate edition, which is the equivalent of Windows 10 Pro today. For comparison, Windows 10 Pro is just $199, a lot less expensive than Windows Vista Ultimate was. Of course, there were lesser SKUs available, but those also weren't cheap. Vista Home Premium was $239, still more expensive than Windows 10 Pro today.

Because of this, many decided not to upgrade to Windows Vista. Windows XP was working fine, and since the press had already said Vista was bad in other areas, there was no real incentive to splash out $400 on an OS that was, according to the rest of the world, terrible.

Stability

When Windows Vista originally launched, it wasn't the most stable OS due to driver compatibility problems. That, along with a lot of PC hardware at the time being subpar in regards to Vista's recommended specifications, made for an OS release that felt rough. It wasn't until Windows Vista Service Pack 1 that most of the initial teething problems Vista faced were fixed, but at that point, it was just too late.

So there you have it, five reasons to why Windows Vista ultimately failed. I personally really loved Vista, mostly because of its new Aero interface and security enhancements that make Windows secure even today. Microsoft learned a lot from Windows Vista, which made for better Windows releases in the future. In fact, all versions of Windows released after Vista are based on it. Just goes to show up important Vista is in the Windows line-up.

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

79 Comments
  • Ah the fun of Vista UAC
    1 - load game install cd1
    2 - install from cd1, cd2 & cd3
    3 - click on desktop shortcut
    4 - nothing.....missing .exe file due to UAT security deciding it was dodgy
    5 - swear
    6 - drink
    7 - keep repeating from step 1, until step 6 just made more sense
  • looooooooooooool
  • not to mention the conflict with NVidia drivers
  • Check out all those Longhorn/Blackcomb videos on YouTube.  When they first showed them off at a MS event I went to(one of the SQL server releases I think, maybe it was Visual Studio) they promised so many amazing things. At the time, I remember the reset was more about the antritrust stuff going on and all the brewing lawsuits over XPs security.
  • I'm truly sad that WinFS never saw the light of day. What a forward-thinking way to approach file storage.
  • True, but a majority of the features as seen from the user were implemented even without WinFS. (Using NTFS and a few tricks, the 'net effect' of WinFS was available for users.) The problem, just as today, people didn't and still don't use them.  Most users complain about search and non-hierarchical mechanisms of document storage to this day, and is one reason 'Start/Cortana/Store/UWP' concepts are so boldy complained about by users that will never take the time to learn there are better ways than the old structures.   Even the docentric shift in Win95 was 'hard' and resisted by most users, and there is still a large chunk of users that still use their PCs from the Win3.x paradigm.  (If you are someone that normally uses the File/Open/Save dialog boxes in software, you are still stuck in the pre-Win95 era of content storage. Outside of 'Save As' -  these dialog boxes should never be touched.)  
  • So, exactly how should a new document be saved?
  • When you close the document, a dialog box opens asking you if you want to save changes - you click on yes, then enter a name for the document. File/Open/Save are never clicked on/used.
  • I think that your reasoning is wrong. Specially when you're using software that may fail in which, if the application crashes, you are not going to be able of saving changes. My methods are using shortcuts like Ctrl+S to save and so on.
  • "So, exactly how should a new document be saved?" See my post, that is when the 'Save As' box appears. However, ideally, that is even wrong.  A new document should be created in Explorer, by Right Clicking and selecting "New..." and then picking the Document type.  So you would pick "Word Document" and then type in its 'new' name.   Then when  you open it, you never see the Save or Open dialog box, as hitting Save, just saves it.  Again, this is the docucentric model and is already starting to become dated as well, but I am shocked at 20 years after Win95, people still use the File Open/Save dialog boxes.  This 'thinking' is outdated, as you are not keeping the documents in Word or Excel, nor should you go to Word or Excel to 'get' the documents...   The real world analog... It would be like keeping every letter you every typed inside your Typewriter case, and going to your Typewriter (Word) to get out a letter you wrote.  The very 'simple' docucentric model was a first step in a new thinking paradigm and a new level of automation.   Macs had already been doing this for years, but in the die hard DOS/PC/Win3.x world of Wordperfect and Lotus keeping the old models for so long, Win95 was a hard for a lot of people, that still stuck in those thinking patterns. -If you were around back then, every 'tech' magazine had articles on how to 'replace' File Explorer with Progman.exe and Filemgr.exe from Windows 3.1 as Win95 and the 'document centric' model was too confusing for people.  
  • I don’t know anyone who does that.  That is totally unintuitive.   The real world analog for that is ”creating” a new document by putting a blank piece of paper in a file cabinet, then pulling it out and then putting it in the typewriter. Also, I would never wait until I was finished to do the first save.  File Open/Save menus are there for a reason.   No one way is “better” than another way.  It’s all about user choice.  Yes, opening a file by just clicking it is easier, and I do that all the time.  The correct app opens it.  But it would never occur to me to create/name a blank file, then open it.  I may not even know what to call it until I am in it. Another problem is that you have to remember what your files are called and where they are stored.   Modern apps all have a “recent files” section in, yes, the dreaded file open dialogue.  This shows me what I was last working on AND where it is.   I don’t need to remember either.   Much easier for me.
  • In fact, as far as I am concerned, the document IS stored in Word or Excel or whatever.  I don’t need to be concerned with the physical storage container.   It could be a local drive, a network share or in the cloud.  I would much rather just open Word,  and there are the last 10 or so things I worked on.  File open will show me everything in the last place I saved, which is likely where everything is.  It will also show me only word docs by default, so I don’t have to wade thru hundreds or thousands of unrelated files.   As always, “object oriented “ is not always better.   Just as digital is not always better than analog.  
  • You're right that people haven't adjusted. I think part of it comes from the fact that you kind of have to un-learn the concept of file storage rooted in physical metaphor (files and folders sitting in heierarchy/filing cabinets) and get your head around the idea of more abstract concepts (retreiving files by their properties and traits, which aren't always mutually exclusive). Like, at work on our shared drive, I want to store a photo of one of our clients. We've got a Clients folder and we've got a Photos folder. Which folder should I put it in? Right now you gotta pick one or otherwise duplicate the file, but the truth is it should be going in both! WinFS would've dragged everyone into that concept kicking and screaming - were they ready for that? Are they now? Probably nah. But man it would be amazing to use.
  • And there you have it.
    Someone telling you what is the "correct" way of saving a document without any actual proof other than how they themselves like to work. The problem with Windows 8, partly, was that so many diehard Microsoft fans accept any kind of unreliable, not-well-thought-out, jarring experience as "progress" and "moving forward", trying to tell people how their tried and true methods of working using their own tools are wrong because some unreliable half designer at Microsoft thought forcing hundreds of millions of non-touch devices working with mouse gestures is a good idea. Outside of your extremely personal opinion on how one should save or create a new document, I'll wait for actual test runs and scientific papers on how your method of saving documents is more productive, and how that method is more productive for everyone and not just the likes of "TheNet Avenger".
  • I remember getting Ultimate edition with so many promises of add-ons and additional updates. Live wallpapers were cool, but too resource intensive for the system I had at the time. Having the unique mix of Home (Media Center) and Pro (Remote Desktop) was totally worth it though.
  • But it got those promised updates and fixes, and drivers/software got updated too. I bought Vista after the patches and it was really rather good. Microsoft's messiest OS? Really? Compared to the buggy mess that was Win98? Oh sure, they fixed 98 by bringing out 98SE which was just 98 but with most of the bugs fixed, and then tried to charge everyone again for the fixes! That was the only time I ever installed a 'borrowed' copy of Windows because sharp practice deserves no less. Then there was WinME... very messy. Vista wasn't bad at all, just had no driver/software support on release due to Microsoft's legendary communications skills. Ol' Nads loves keeping that tradition going to this day.
  • The Windows Ultimate Extras program was cancelled long before support for the OS was.
  • Dealing with a lot of day to day operations at a couple of OEMS, I can definately argue that Win98 was a rather solid release with a lot of features people didn't even notice. (OS level sound mixing for example.)   WinME on the other hand was a hopeless mess, where the Win9x development team was still trying to prove their worth and took ideas from the early NT 5.0 plans and tried to shove them into a limited monolithic assembly kernel with a dumb FS. Things like 'Restore' were never designed to work without a smart FS with things like Copy On Write and other inherent features that pushed the Win9x kernel too far and it would snap under the load, making it slow, and would snap trying to deal with hardware in non-protected operations.  (Anyone from this era would remember that NT 4.0 was FASTER than Win95 on a system with 32MB of RAM, and it technically should not have been as NT has layers of overhead in comparison and was written in portable C; where in contrast, Win95 had no subsystems, security layers, and was able to be optimized at the assembly level for x86. This was a surprise to Microsoft that NT was this capable so 'early' in its life and shocking to the Win9x team that the 'heavy workstation class OS' was running circles around their tiny optimized kernel.)
  • From my point of view, starting from Win95, it is like that:
    - Win95: Nice OS
    - Win98: A mess
    - Win98SE: Nice OS
    - Win ME: Don't even dare
    - Win2k: Nice OS, sometimes buggy
    - WinXP: Worked like a charm
    - WinVista: A mess
    - Win7: Worked like a charm
    - Win8: A mess
    - Win8.1: A corrected mess
    - Win10: A mess (any version)
  • I agree with this list except for 98. I especially agree with Win10 and how 7 has been the last proper version so far.
  • You're right, Media Center was WAS the bomb!
  • Now, wasn't Millenium worse than Vista? It most likely was, it's just that no one remembers that crap anymore. Honestly, most of today's criticism of Vista is based on legends (just like with Nokia 3310, it wasn't the most durable phone at that time). Yeah, yeah, security measures were overly annoying and system requirements were much higher, but what was Win 7 if not more polished Vista? Also, Microsoft really tried to hard to innovate everything with Vista, and that always backfires - many people hate radical changes. That's why Win 8 was so hated among certain people, and why Win 10 is sometimes criticized, too. 
  • 200% agreed. 
  • WinME was bad, but it was fantastic compared to Win98 which was never fixed. Win98SE should have been a patch, not a resell exercise.
  • If there was no Vista, there was no Win7. E.g., if there was no UAC in Vista, programs would still be in old way that assuming they could change or access whatever system resources they want, even if not necessary, and thus the Win7 UAC would still be a disaster. The good thing at that time is even though Vista got lots of criticism, Microsoft still continued on the road to further improve the system to get a better version of Vista, which is Win7. I don't know if at that time, Microsoft decided to totally abandon Vista and reverted back to XP style, or if retreat from desktop system, what would happen.
  • I'm with you... Windows ME just bit.  And I stood in line at midnight at Microcenter for that beating.
  • Windows ME was only perceived to be terrible because OEMs shipped their products with Cyrix processors that locked up every 72h and required a reboot, due to a hardware flaw.
  • And the via chipsets :)  I switched to 2000 almost right away, so I can't remember much about ME.  I agree that Windows ME wasn't to blame because it was basically a minor  "creators version" of Windows 98se.  
  • It was indeed terrible. I had a PC with 128MB of RAM and a Pentium III processor, it had Win98SE and it was perfect 👌. Then I installed from scratch WinME, it never worked, you could boot the PC and after a couple of minutes you got a BSOD, even with drivers "designed" for WinME. That PC lasted ages, it still works and it has WinXP and 768MB of RAM.
  • It's also noteworthy that when we discuss Windows today, we like to forget the 9x kernel was even a Windows product. It wasn't until business and consumer merged under the NT kernel with Windows XP that we truly had what is now considered today as Windows. For that argument, Win2k was also seen as a pretty terrible Windows release, until SP3.  Heck, I chose to learn Linux at the time as I was running a CS server, and I could only host 14 players on Win2k, when Linux allowed me to double that.
  • Ah, you hit the 'Workstation' client connection restrictions of Win2K, which was technically 10. There were simple hacks around that by the way, and 'load-wise' Win2K was far more capable of hosting more clients than Linux.  A lot of people in that era bought the Server version if they were doing the hack to remove the limitation.  It was also fairly easily to buy NFR or get complimentary Windows Server Eval versions at the time rather cheap. Without the network client connection restriction, people would just buy NT Workstation/Desktop and then run Server software on it, which was an issue for Server sales.  (Since they were/are the same code/binaries the only limiations were artificial.) I think it was a mistake to make the client connection number so 'low' or to structure it like Microsoft did.  NT 3.1-4.0 workstation/desktop didn't have these restrictions.. I remember arguing with a Win2K program manager during the beta on the phone for nearly two hours about this subject. Sadly, it was out of the developers hands as marketing and sales started to make those decisions.
  • With windows 8 and 10 the criticism is justified. That whole change for the sake of change thing.
  • "Change for the sake of change..."  Yeah, because mobile and the "post PC era" never happened. If there was no reason to change, Windows would still have 90%+ market share, and tech headlines would still be dominated by Microsoft Microsoft may have stumbled in the execution, but they were right to try to modernize Windows.
  • Windows 8 wasn't so hated "among certain people". It was merely liked among certain people, and those people are the ones who think they "know better" but barely get anything about UX design. Windows 8 was nothing but Microsoft panicking about people flocking to mobile devices, trying to pretend like a desktop PC with keyboard and mouse without a touch screen can be used as a mobile device. It was IMO the most miscalculated version of Windows to date even worse than Vista.
  • My only issue with Vista when I got it was Nvidia refused to release new video drivers that were compatible with older video cards. Got stuck with 2 desktops running 1024×763 on 1680x1050 monitors. Moved to some Radeon cards and had few issues with Vista.
  • Perhaps I was one of the lucky ones. I never had any problems with Vista. For my money, still the best version of windows. It finally fixed all the networking problems in XP. (A network map that actually worked!) While Windows 7 brought many of those network problems right back. The Control Panel was well laid out, which did continue in 7. But I had more stability problems with 7 than I ever had with Vista. Then came Windows 8.....Windows 10....a little better. But not by much.
  • Yeah. I don't know why people said vista is bad. I use vista back then with Pentium D, 2GB of RAM, Radeon 9700. No problem in gaming, video, everyday task, etc.
  • After the service packs Vista was fine. The original release was absolutely terrible though.
  • But then Build 10240 (Threshold 1) of Windows 10 wasn't too clever either. It improved massively after Threshold 2
  • Same here. Though I started using it from SP1 in December 2008. I really loved New look and features such as live disc, shadow copy, flip 3d and that cool green glass effect. Don't know why ms switched to blue. I continued using it till win8 came out.
    Does anyone remember that logo that came with Vista along with regular Vista logo. What it actually meant? It was first and last time.. ms had two logos for same product. Btw Vista really had better network troubleshooter which they messed up in 7. I found it really less useful in win7.
  • I had literally no problem with my machine at that time which had only 512MB RAM. And after SP1 it was pretty solid as much as remember. 
    But it is still the best looking Windows ever for me. Windows Media Centre still beats todays Groove Music in sexiness. 
  •  I think many forget that Vista was in fact a "neccesary evil". It forced gaming software to proplerly address user logins & profiles for games. It forced HP & other high profile printing companies to stop writing print drivers that ran in the SAME circle of the kernel (really, remember when a crashed printer driver = BSOD?). Oh & we required a DVD to install printer software? So I say ... hats off to Vista & all it's problmes! It finally drove coders to stop shoving Jolt colas down their throats & crunching of stale popcorn in dark rooms & exposed them; to finally start writing some stable code! LoL 
  • Vista was fine after SP1 and excellent after SP2.  It just still had the annoying UAC.  I had to wait a year for Canon to release a driver for my all-in-one printer and that driver only supported printing, not scanning but that is Canon's fault, not Microsoft's.  Never bought a Canon product since then.
  • I had HP printer at the tme and they were not responsive either, had to use my XP64 computer to print
  • Falls under the hardware requirements  - but the Intel 915 chipset "exemption." The current Meltdown/Spectre issues aren't the first time Intel has screwed the pooch and tried to hide behind Microsoft's skirts. I have to think there's some of part of all this in Microsoft's memory that informs their pursuit of Windows on Arm.  
  • W10M wasn't messier than Vista? If it remember correctly, Windows Central didn't even review the 950XL because the software was so buggy.
  • I definitely loved Vista compared to XP. XP had no multi-threaded components. It has been developed when there were no multicore processors at least for the public. The XP explorer hangs as hell when trying to open a folder with few thousands of files. Vista did much better.
  • I really got into"Windows for WorkGroups" at....work.  My Windows first PC at home was a Gateway Pentium 133 with Win 95, after years of staying with Commadore 64/ 128 and Amiga.  I had 95 on CD and on I tihnk 23 floppies (It took them all to re-install the 'Clean' OS)  I had 98. Skipped 98 SE  I had Mellenium on a laptop and only had to re-install once or twice, worked pretty good on that computer.  I skipped 2000 but had a Ball with XP and then came XP64, thats where drivers really became a issue, but some Win 2000 drivers worked.  I loved XP64 once drivers came around.  I had all the Vista Problems, but like mentioned SP2 pretty much had things in hand.  I still have a couple Win 7 and 8.1 machines.  I am starting to co-exist with Win 10, but really I'm not a fan of it.  I do have a Surface Pro (5) and 10 seems made for it.  (Avoid the Arc Mouse for it)
  • The Windows Experience Index did a lot to clean up the industry.  Before that many vendors were charging a mint for crap hardware that the average consumer had no way of knowing which machine was better.  The crap out there didn't help for the release any.
  • I would have said ME was the messiest OS from Microsoft.
  • True, but then half the readers on here were in diapers when ME came out. The writer is trying to relate to the most readers here and anything before Vista is too old. Imo, Windows 3.1 was the most messy. Booting into dos, then launching Windows that if closed left nothing but a green background. Most the programs were only capable of being launched in dos and it seemed like only MS built apps were exe. Not to mention the endless crashes and freezes or trying to remember all the terminal language for dos. Oh and good luck getting online.
  • I had no problem with Vista because I built a new gaming PC at the same time of its launch, so it was a really worthy experience compared to the ancient XP. The problem was the fact that in addition to the old PCs, IIRC the netbook trend was starting to gain traction, and some OEMs shipped those stinky Atom-based and low RAM netbooks with Vista and it was a total disaster. I had one and it was impossible to use, even after a clean install with updated drivers and without the usual bloatware, so after a week or so trying to not throw away that netbook, I just did like everyone else and downgraded it to XP. But as said on the article and by others here, on a new, decent PC it was a really competent OS...
  • Vista was fine for me, but I already had good hardware to run it on. Price is never an issue for me, since I have an MSDN subscription from where I work. The UAC stuff could be modified, just the default setting was a pain. Drivers were absolutely a problem at first, but eventually that got sorted out. Messiest OS release? Not even close. ME was a bad joke, and Win 10 M was no prize at launch either. Messiest OS dev cycle, no doubt. But not the worst release.
  • When I switched to Vista it already had SP1 and it ran great on my laptop.  Windows ME is still the worst.  It had problems starting up, it had problems staying running and it had problems shutting down.  That dog should have been put down before it ever left the MS campus. 
  • I had Vista ultimate, and was even running some preview builds prior to release. I never paid full price though, I bought a 'system builder' 64bit disc (basically I was my own OEM, far cheaper than a retail disc). I never really had any major problems with it if I recall. I still have the disc and key somewhere.
  • I want to thank MS from the bottom of my heart for WME It was a financial boom for my support company, I made an embarrassing amount of $ supporting it. W8se ROCK SOLID WXP ROCK SOLID W10 is making $ but not as swiftly as Me did. My prdiction MS gets out of the OS world entirely.
  • My issue with Vista wasn't any of the things listed here, rather it was that it didn't support TRIM for SSDs.  98 Millenium Edition was much more chaotic.
  • SSD was in it's infancy back then though, were there ever updated drivers?
  • This happens with many operating systems.  Windows 3.0 was crash-prone but by the time Windows for Workgroups 3.11/MS-DOS 6.22 were established in 1994, it was a decent experience for the time (getting rid of real mode and adding support for 386 enhanced mode was great).   Windows 95 had a ton of issues as well but by OSR 2 in late 1996 Window 95 ran great and Windows 98 Second Edition in 1999 was more stable with better performance compared to 98 First Edition.  Even though Windows ME had several device driver issues and lacked real-mode DOS, it pioneered things like System Restore and had some GUI improvements compared to 98SE.  However, Windows ME was really unstable with many system configurations.  In my experience Windows 98SE was the best among the 95/98/ME family.   Windows NT was not that great until 4.0 and that’s only after Service Pack 3 was released in 1997.  Windows 2000 had many security issues and wasn’t fully stable until SP2 in 2001, and even Windows XP Professional wasn’t great until SP2 was released in 2004.   By the time SP2 rolled around (along with the Platform Update in late 2009), Vista was a fine operating system and its biggest improvement was Windows Media Center (compared to Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005).  It helped that most decent systems by then were dual-cores with at least 4GB RAM and solid DX10-supporting GPUs.  Windows 7 always felt leaner and more responsive, however; Vista just feels sluggish compared to 7 (I've compared the 2 operating systems on identical hardware).   Even Windows 7 wasn’t as good until SP1 in 2011 and I find Windows 8.1 to perform better in general than 8 and features better pixel density scaling capabilities.  I didn’t think that Windows 10 was mature enough until 2016 with the Anniversary Update and we are just starting to deploy it this year with newer systems that feature SSD and NVMe drives.   My company followed a similar path: Windows for Workgroups 3.11 in 1994 -> NT 4.0 Workstation SP3 in 1997 -> 2000 Pro SP2 in 2001 -> XP Pro SP2 in 2005 -> 7 Enterprise SP1 in 2011 -> 10 Enterprise 1703 in 2018 (note the absences of Windows 9x, Vista and 8).  We typically wait at least a year and skip some less essential versions of Windows that are tested but never deployed.
  • The worst thing about Vista (Longhorn) was not mentioned here. As has been admitted to by Ballmer, Longhorn sucked up so many resources that MS missed the boat on Mobile. The were so mired down resource wise that Apple, then Google got the jump start on the smart phone race and left MS holding the WinMo bag forcing the use of old structure for WP7 which then forced a required hardware switch for WP8. Oh what could have been if instead of having to reset all their resources to fix the Longhorn mess, they could have been working on Mobile, releasing WP in the '8' iteration. Sad, sad , sad.
  • Longhorn is the reason the technologies in Windows we have today exist.  As for sucking resources from Mobile, the Ballmer was an idiot to not have let the teams start the move from WinCE to NT in the early 00s, as NT was already starting to run on the current generation of mobile and embedded hardware. Windows Mobile didn't 'miss' the boat until AFTER the iPhone was released, which was also AFTER Vista was released, so to blame the Mobile failings on Longhorn/Vista is just not accurate and if Ballmer is shoving that swill, is flat out lying.
  • I was one of the few persons I know to not have any (major) issues with Vista.  I think I was running it on an HP Blackbird, but I can't be remember.  I had problems with one particular game, though. To this day I'm not sure if it was truely vista, the game, or video adaptor. Otherwise, it was a pretty smooth experience.  The live wallpapers, though resource intensive, were kind of nifty as was Aero.
  • Basically the same complaint every person who doesn't understand computers has "it won't run on my ****** old 10 year old pc". I ran vista from beta, and it ran fine, UAC as you mentioned is still used today, and not sure what you mean by dialed back, it hasn't changed, if you hate it that much, just turn it off like I do on every PC I have owned since then. And stability, once again, using old hardware, I had NO stability issues with vista at all, it ran fine.
  • I had XP then the new laptop had Vista Ultimate. After awhile I realized that it was just a beta version so $250 got DVDs with Windows 7 Ultimate. I think that was one of the best $250 I ever spent but I did like Vista. I had that for awhile. I got the first Surface Pro at my Best But and loved 8 and 8.1 and loved 10. My Surface Pro 2 came four years later and the first thing I did was upgrade it to 10. I got the latter even though Surface Pro 4 was the latest. I had Windows 8 phone and recently got Microsoft Lumia with 10. Did I mention that I love Windows.
  • In contrast to the 'problems' with Vista, there should be an article on all the 'technologies' that were added to Vista. (These technologies were a problem for OEMs, especially OEM hardware that had shipped saying it supported XYZ and truly didn't. (ACPI and sleep states were a big problem because MB OEMs flat out lied and couldn't even update their BIOSes to fix the problems.) Vista added a new Audio Stack, Network Stack, and several layers of a new video stack that also included the base technologies of the WDM/WDDM to allow GPU and even co-processor multi-tasking technologies that are something that to this day ONLY EXIST in Windows. Here is one to start...
    The Audio Stack was hard as it broke a lot of offloaded sound card hardware. However, with the new Audio Stack, Vista was able to manage and produce sound that was beyond professional equipment level specifications. This includes low SnR and really advanced resampling technologies that produced really clean/precise audio. Even average users could boot on the same hardware to XP and then to Vista and play the same audio content and hear the difference even on desktop speakers, let alone full surround speaker systems. At this time, Apple had recently add a lot of fixes to their internal Audio processing to push 'professional' audio quality levels, which they were not able to advertise as Vista was nearly twice as accurate and clean than OS X. Windows to this day holds a quality lead over OS X, especially in managing up/down resampling/etc. There are good examples and stories for a lot of other new technologies in Vista, and how they were added to NT, with the kernel taking on new primary roles and yet not needing any major changes - which is an homage to the true extensibility of NT. The whole 'Aero' should also be expanded on, as it wasn't just what the users would see when the Composer could enabled with a WDDM capable DX9 GPU. The WDDM and XPDM existing side by side with two different video stacks and driver technologies and rendering pipelines and output models is impressive, as most people never noticed everything was being rendered using new technologies with WDDM video. There is also a lot more with WDDM that allows GPU compute and GPU SMP and GPU virtualization and GPU pre-emptive multi-tasking that ALL ONLY EXIST on Windows and started with Vista. (There could an entire book on the video stack and the video WDDM/WDM 1.0 technologies that are fascinating and still unique and make things possible, even if users don't realize they are happening. One example is why WP and Win8/10 in general can run on low end hardware by using the GPU as almost an additional sets of computing cores for general operations.)
  •  Did you know that if you played the Vista install disk backwards that it played satanic messages?    But do you know what is worse? If your played it correctly, it installed Vista.
  • 😂
  • Vista was the bomb! Did my first ever RAID array using 2 10,000 RPM Raptor drives on a AMD 939 board x2 cases for clients. Had the Northbridge chip mounted with a tower air cooler to stop the whole board from blowing up. Once you did the usual registry hacks/bloat removal, ran like a b*****d! Peripheral manufacturers killed the uptake of Vista through lame driver support.   But the on the fly disk error checking Vista had made it so much more stable than XP ever was, never understand to this day why people rave about XP, from a Tech's perspective Vista was practically maintenance free compared to XP once setup correctly; out of the box Vista like any Windoze OS needs extra work.
  • OK, I don't know if I missed something, but I loved Vista until & came out. I was under the impression that Windows ME was by far and large the worst OS from any company, ever. I fail to see how Vista even came close to the bugginess of ME. When I had ME, I LITERALLY had to reinstall my entire OS once a month.
  • Thanks to MS for Win7 which has beaten all the records of winXP and still in use by many users till now. Except w10, I'm also using w7 on my low end desktop. One of the feature I love is 'win + tab' key combination.
  • I skipped Vista so for me the messiest OS remains Windows 8 with its jarring hybrid of phone/desktop interface. I am under the impression that Microsoft needs a big failure every other iteration of Windows in order to bring us something good afterwards... Windows ME -> Windows XP (ok not an evolution of ME but still..) , Windows Vista -> Windows 7, Windows 8 -> Windows 10.
  • The company I worked for at the time rolled out Vista in early 2008, along with brand new desktops for the entire team. With the right hardware, it was a great OS. So off the back of that user experience, I decided to run it on my already 5-year-old laptop at home. Total disaster. It was so bad that I ended up throwing the device away and buying a new one with windows 7 pre-installed. MS nailed backwards compatibility with Windows 10. I've seen W10 running on an 8-year-old laptop, and it runs beautifully.  
  • In my mind, these 5 problems weren't the worse. The worst problem was that whenever you connected a USB stick or external hard drive, Windows Vista proceeded to poll the contents of the drive. This could take hours, and in the meantime, all other functions slowed to a crawl.
  • """Windows Vista was Microsoft's messiest OS"" Bowden.. you were too young to have an opinion about Vista.
    I still have it installed on a PC and I've never had to format, reset or re-install Windows.
    It just works.
    Doesn't need updates to keep it stable like later versions.
  • I have often thought about the writers and “executive editors” here being obviously in their 20s/30s.   That means that their Windows experience goes back to XP at best, and to 8 at worst.  This article is a great example.   Anyone who thinks that Vista was the worst version of Windows clearly was not using Windows in the 90s.   Vista got an undeserved bad rep for flaky drivers, but that was not Microsoft’s fault.   MS does not write drivers.   The problem was that Vista had a different driver model than XP, so new drivers were needed for everything.  XP drivers would not work, and hardware makers were reluctant/slow/not interested in writing new drivers when everyone was still on XP.  
  • True.
  • Same here Hiswona, I have it installed on one of my old notebooks, and still have the original disc. I never had issues that everyone was complaining about either. Just as long as you had lots of ram, it was fine. It still looks awesome too!
  • I've used Vista on a number of machines with little problem through the years.  The single biggest issue was the "Vista Ready" designation.  The specs they set as minimum for the "Vista Ready" logo were ridiculously low (mainly to drive people to update from XP) and therefore a lot of people with computers labelled as ready had poor experiences upon updating or buying under-speced machines.  At the time I had a Dell Latitude 15 that I speced specifically for Vista (mid to high end) and it never had a problem with the system.
  • Ah, Windows Vista, the OS that failed at the most basic thing an OS has to do: copying files.