As Microsoft prepares Windows 7 for release this October, I wanted to take a look back at Windows Vista. Windows Vista is the most stable, most secure, and has the most innovations of any operating system Microsoft has ever made. It is also their second biggest failure(the ill conceived Windows ME holds that distinction). The launch of Windows Vista was a Marketing disaster for Microsoft, and for the next year, it continued to receive bad PR. There are several reasons for this, some of which can be blamed on Microsoft, but the majority of which cannot. Instead of focusing on those points, I am going to focus on the complaints that I have heard over the years about Vista.
1. My Printer, scanner, or [insert other piece of hardware here] doesn't work in Vista.
This is, in my opinion, one of the top 2 reasons why people complained about Windows Vista. This, however, is something that is only partially Microsof's fault. Now, without getting too technical, the reason why this happened is that Microsoft changed the architecture for drivers in Windows. Now, a driver is essentially the software that allows your windows to work with the printer, scanner, mouse, iPod, anything. What this meant, was that for a lot of peripherals, the manufacturer, not Microsoft, was responsible for creating that driver. What many companies, printer companies especially, decided to do was not create those drivers for older printers. This was a business decision designed to get consumers to buy a new device.
The overall question though, is that is this a good thing? Again, without getting too technical, the changes that Microsoft made in the way drivers need to work were good changes. They unfortunately come with growing pains. Now, 2.5 years after Windows Vista launched, everything works just fine with it. And Windows 7 uses the same, improved driver model, so essentially everything that works with Windows Vista will also work with Windows 7.
The third party companies that make the hardware are the ones that are responsible for not supporting Windows Vista. Now, I fully admit that for them to support Windows Vista for devices that were, in some cases, 6-7 years old would have cost them a lot of money. They would have to allocate people and resources to create drivers for printers that no one in the company had supported for years. The return on investment for doing that likely would have been too small to justify the cost. However, that did not change the fact that when the average consumer bought a new computer with Windows Vista, and their printer did not work, they were un happy.
Overall, I'm going to call this a draw. Microsoft and the third parties were both justified in their decisions, and in the end, it did affect the customer. An unpleasant, but necessary growing pain for Windows.
2. Vista runs very slowly on my 4 year old computer, or the $800 computer I just bought runs vista very slowly
This issue has largely disappeared recently. Back in 2006, the consumer world had grown accustomed to a $700-$800 PC running Windows XP well. However, in early 2007, when Vista became available to consumers, windows XP was over 5 years old. even low end PC hardware in 2006 was significantly more powerful than what was a high end computer in 2001. Unfortunately, the consumer has been conditioned that they should be able to buy a computer for $700, and have it run well. In 2006, that was simply not the case, nor should it be. Windows Vista is a modern, advanced operating system that offered numerous improvements over XP. That's not to say it was perfect. It does have problems, even today. But to expect an new operating system to run on either hardware that was 4-5 years old, or on a computer made as cheaply as possible, is not fair to Microsoft.
Both of these reasons are the main contributors as to why Windows Vista received such a bad reputation at launch. There are other reasons, such as Apple's relentless ads against them, the emergence of netbooks, which Windows Vista does not run well on, and many businesses not moving to Vista. In part 2 of this article, I will discuss why people should be using Vista, and why it is so good.