This is part 2 of my article about Windows Vista, and why it failed, and why it shouldn’t have. For part one, click Here.
Author’s note: Part 2 had originally been intended to be an article about what makes Windows Vista a good operating system. That will now be featured in part 3.
there were nearly 4.5 years between the release of Windows XP and Windows Vista. That is an eternity in the world of technology, and because of that, many things had changed. Windows Vista is very much a reflection of that change.
Many of the changes going from Windows XP to Windows Vista are very technical, things I will not get into in this article. But suffice it to say, that except for the name, and the mostly familiar feel, they are very different operating systems. Windows XP was created in the age before most people had high speed internet, before twitter, before Facebook, before Myspace. Windows XP comes from a time before Social networking. When XP came out, Google was not the biggest search engine in the world. It sat at least behind AOL search. Windows XP launched within a month of the very first iPod. In 2001, fewer than 50% of the people in North America owned a cell phone. The 5 most popular pop music artists/groups in 2001 were, in order: Destiny’s Child, Jennifer Lopez, Janet Jackson, ‘N Sync, and the Backstreet Boys. America went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq between releases. As you can see, XP seems to come from an era of our past.
In the time between Windows XP and windows Vista, many things changed. Computers became infinitely more powerful, and less expensive. The internet became almost as common of a utility as having a phone line. People used their computers in an entirely different way in 2006 than they did in 2001.
With those differences, came the challenges. With the proliferation of the internet, so too came the proliferation of security vulnerabilities. Windows XP was actually designed in the late 1990’s. XP was built off of Windows 2000, which actually came out in late 1999. Windows 2000 and XP, by design, let the user do whatever they may want without their computer without any difficulty. The reason for this is that the largest concept of security in the late 90’s revolved around someone gaining physical access to a computer to compromise it, so less attention was paid to security. As the internet grew, more and more computers were connected. XP’s mentality of giving a user full access to everything on the system was it’s largest downfall. This meant that it was very, very easy for a program downloaded from the internet to compromise a computer, because it could run even without the user knowing. There were little to no safeguards. Windows XP, the most stable Microsoft operating system at the time, was severely vulnerable to attacks from the internet. And despite all of Microsoft’s best efforts, to this day, that is still true. It is simply the way the operating system was designed.
In the internet age, it became clear that Windows had to change. Many of the technologies at the core of Windows XP were actually first designed in the early 1990’s. That simply would not cut it anymore. A newer, safer, and more secure Windows was needed. Windows Vista was the result of that. Microsoft nearly re-wrote the entire operating system. Many, many elements were changed. Many of the things that were done in Windows Vista were brand new to Windows, represented a radical change for Microsoft in not only how Windows worked, but how the company made windows.
In many ways, Windows Vista is the operating system that was a proof of concept for many new things, and because of that suffered many growing pains. In many years when we look back at Windows, we will see Windows Vista as the beginning of a new type of operating system for Microsoft, and the release that began the transition of Windows from an operating system built for a personal computer, and an operating system built for the internet connected person.
In part 3, I will discuss what Vista actually brings to the table that is better than XP, and how it is the foundation for the upcoming Windows 7.