On November 8th 2006 Microsoft released Windows Vista the 6th Major release of the windows operating system to computer manufacturers globally. who at the time began offering it as an option on their computers alongside the 5 years mature Windows XP. Immediately Vista’s ‘first impressions’ began to destroy its reputation forever, by giving millions of people a horrible first experience.
Lack of affordable powerful hardware:
During this time RAM prices were higher than today and as a result a typical computer would be bought with 1gb of RAM, meaning that the increasingly popular budget computers were sold with just 512mb of RAM.
When windows Vista was designed Microsoft wanted to take advantage of the hardware accelerated graphics, and powerful components that were becoming more common in standard computers. However the budget computers of the time didn’t have these components.
As a result of its feature rich and innovative design Vista had become what many people would describe as bloaty, Windows XP is a much lighter operating system, it will run quite happily on just 512mb of RAM, where vista struggles even on 1gb of RAM and barley runs at all on 512mb. This alone isn’t a bad thing, and Microsoft are not to blame for innovating and looking to the future. However they should have set the minimum requirements to run the operating system much higher than they did.
So here is the first problem, the most commonly sold computers at the time which were bundled with Windows Vista were the cheaper ones which did not have nearly enough RAM or processing power, this caused millions of users worldwide great frustration, and all they could see to blame was ‘that Vista’. Even the mid range ones didn’t run Vista to an impressive level, only the less popular high end expensive computers ran vista well, and even these had their problems…..
OEM Bundled Software
When OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturers) such as HP, Dell, Acer etc sell a pre configured laptop or desktop computer, they often bundle trials of paid software, or revenue generating software. Most commonly Mcafee Antivirus (30 or 90 day trial) Norton Antivirus (30 or 90 day Trial), Google Desktop and toolbar, Ask toolbar and many others. These applications aren’t just sat on the computer waiting to see if you want to use them , they are resident in your precious and sparse RAM as soon as your computer boots, grinding your already poorly performing brand new (in 2006) Vista computer to a halt. the incentive for the OEM’s is that if and when you activate that trial software into a paid subscription (which happens all to often) they get a cut of the sale. also because you are running google desktop and google toolbar, ask toolbar and possibly others, the OEM generates revenue from your searches. It does allow them to sell the computers cheaper, initially saving the end user money, which is attractive, but once again contributing to the end users poor Windows Vista experience.
Mis Educated Upgraders
In January 2007 Microsoft put Windows Vista and Windows Vista Upgrade retail boxes on the shelves worldwide, this caused a flurry of early adapters to go out and purchase Vista for their current machine running Windows XP. the minimum requirements for Windows Vista is an 800mhz CPU, 512mb of RAM and a 20gb Hard Drive. this is by Microsoft’s specification and is very low, whilst Windows XP would run fairly nimble on a machine of this specification, Vista would run at a crawl. some of these upgraders had 3-4 year old machines built in 2003 and they were going out buying Vista upgrade and installing it. they got a terrible experience of the OS and as it wasn’t cheap they made sure they told everyone just how poor Vista was, when realistically their view of the OS was jaded by their hardware limitations.
Bad Initial Driver Support
In 2006 a lot of hardware manufacturers weren’t interested in making their hardware work on Windows Vista (32 or 64 bit), and most of the ones that did only made a tiny effort to make them work, meaning the hardware functioned much better in XP than it did in vista. an example of this is the very popular Creative Labs Audigy2 Sound card. It is popular because of its brilliant sound quality compared with other cards, however for someone moving from XP to Vista this was nto the case. Creative took months to release any kind of driver at all, and when they eventually did it was very poor with crackly sound and none of the configurable features the XP driver had.
Unlike Windows XP (a derivative of 2000 and NT) the majority of Windows Vista was brand new, and brand new developed software will have glitches and bugs.
Extensive beta testing was carried out before the final release of Vista, but some little problems slipped through to damage its first impressions on users, and these users shouted about it.
The biggest problem in my opinion which could only be blamed on the OS itself was the file reading / writing speed bug. There was some kind of bottleneck which reduced the speed files were written to and read from discs massively. This effected how the whole machine ran, and made the OS feel bogged down, it meant copying files from one drive to another was a very long winded job. This bug was so prominent that people were replacing the file copy function of vista with third party software called Terracopy. You can read more about this here.
This bug was eventually fixed witha hot fix issued from Microsoft in March 2007, however this had to be manually installed, it was not automatically fixed until Service Pack 1 in February 2008, 16 months after vista reached the public.
Vista Today, The Conclusion
Windows Vista is over 3 years old, it is a mature operating system, well tested, well used and well patched. On March 5th 2009 Vista service Pack 2 was released, compared with the original RTM the OS is very stable, and if installed on modern hardware, even modern budget hardware which is much better than the budget hardware of 2006, then it runs quick and efficient. Hardware support is improved as manufacturers have found the time to develop good drivers.
However the damage is done. Vista’s reputation is ruined by its first 12-18 months of existance, being ran by miseducatedusers on poor hardware, being swamped with crapware by the OEM’s and having unpatched bugs for months on end has frustrated plenty of people and the outdated but unmovable opinion I hear every day is ‘that Vista is a load of rubbish isnt it’
The more recent Windows 7 which is built on Vista seems to be having a better run, but then it has noneof the barriers Vista had, its built as an improvement on already mature software, and is released in a market with much more powerful hardware available cheaply, unfortunately the OEM crapware problem still does reard its ugly head quite often though.