What Really Happened with Vista: An Insider’s Retrospective

Megalith

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Ben Fathi, who served as one of Microsoft's top Windows executives, has shared some insider’s insight on what went wrong with Vista. Part of the problem is that Windows got too big for its own good, which made it difficult for the development team to create a product that satisfied both the company and its billions of customers.

There were so many seismic shifts happening in the computing industry during those years — the advent of the internet, the rise of the mobile phone, the emergence of cloud computing, the creation of new ad-supported business models, the viral growth of social media, the relentless march of Moore’s law, and the popularity of open source are just a few factors that assaulted Windows from all directions.
 
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I never used Vista as a daily runner, I never liked it so I stuck with XP for a long time then XP Pro x64 till Windows 7 came along. I know a lot of people say that Vista - by the time it had a second service pack - was more or less Windows 7 with a slightly different UI and I still say if that's their opinion then they don't understand Windows 7 at all.

The biggest issue I had to deal with for customers that used and wanted Vista was drivers, a lot of them were just terrible for various reasons and it took a long time for a lot of hardware manufacturers to get used to doing things in a new manner, especially with respect to driver signing for the 64-bit version of Vista. Dropping support for a lot of older hardware wasn't necessarily a good thing either but that's not Vista's fault but again the hardware manufacturers which is where it almost always lies.
 

RealBeast

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Drivers were a big problem then, but that problem existed for 7 too -- like HP not supporting WIA drivers for its products.

Ten has some of the same problems but not as acute.

A lot of it really comes down to the peripheral makers not wanting to waste money updating drivers for old gear, they just want you to buy new scanners, etc.
 

rudy

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The drivers were an issue with Vista, also it was just a new OS that needed some updates, and it took more resources as the underlying structure was significantly different then previous versions and more demanding especially graphics wise. I had a powerful machine running Vista, so I didn't care but I saw a lot of people buy low end machines and be unhappy. Vista might have been amazing if SSDs were mainstream. Ultimately as with all windows releases eventually the drivers were more or less sorted out. The platform was stable enough. Then they moved to 7 which took advantage of these largely stable drivers and the transition was pretty good. This is why 7 is so loved by so many. Vista had to do the leg work and take the fall so 7 could be the great success it was.

I get that MS was trapped so if I look at it what I realize is that MS just needed to really focus on how they could integrate better with all their hardware partners, give them more time to work things out. Maybe that would have helped, maybe not. After all I have found that most people if not forced to get work done simply wont. Imagine a scenario where they simply delayed Vista by 6 months to a year to continue testing and give hardware makers more time. Most likely many of them would have still just sat on their hands and waited till the last second to try and get drivers working well. This is all why I have liked where windows 10 has gone. An OS should be a constantly evolving product, and while some might complain that every so often windows 10 breaks something I think that small breaks along the way are better than giant break downs.

Windows 10 reminds me of steam, when it first came out there were people whom were like OMG you are forcing me to download updates and use steam. Don't take away my freedom. But overtime everyone just accepts that the new system is just better for the community as a whole. Now days steam is the most popular platform, no one worries about not having the right version of a game to play with their friend or going to search for a patch. Its all automatic. Slowly and steadily steam constantly updates and improves.
 

sleepeeg3

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I never used Vista as a daily runner, I never liked it so I stuck with XP for a long time then XP Pro x64 till Windows 7 came along. I know a lot of people say that Vista - by the time it had a second service pack - was more or less Windows 7 with a slightly different UI and I still say if that's their opinion then they don't understand Windows 7 at all.

The biggest issue I had to deal with for customers that used and wanted Vista was drivers, a lot of them were just terrible for various reasons and it took a long time for a lot of hardware manufacturers to get used to doing things in a new manner, especially with respect to driver signing for the 64-bit version of Vista. Dropping support for a lot of older hardware wasn't necessarily a good thing either but that's not Vista's fault but again the hardware manufacturers which is where it almost always lies.
Win 7 literally had the same core as Vista. The version numbering went from like 6.1 to 6.2. Win7 was simply Vista minus the bloat. Ironically Microsoft used Vista as a way to market Windows 7 and people bought it. It got many off of XP.
 

Trimlock

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I still have two Vista Pro keys and one is still in used although rarely used. Just make sure to turn off the caching thing that tries to cache your entire HDD and go about your merry way.
 

daglesj

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It was okay.

Just needed more RAM and switching off the indexing as it could go 100% crazy on the HDD usage.
 

MrDeaf

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Vista ran okay, so long as you fed it 4GB of ram in dual channel mode. (not that it could address all of it)
Running Vista on 2GB of RAM was vastly inferior to running XP on the same amount.
 

Jim Kim

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Vista was ok once it got a couple of service packs and you were not trying to run it with 1 gb of ram.
 

Bigbacon

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used vista from day one until the hd died on me like a year ago. Never had a single problem with it.

i even ran on a atom netbook and it wasnt terrible.
 
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WrUWnd5.png

Am I the only one seeing this weird character encoding? In Firefox, my text encoding is set to Unicode. It looks the same in Chrome and IE too.

On the other hand, Windows Millennium Edition isn't getting much love too.
 

anthrex

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Old garbage computers (especially low memory) and Nvidia drivers were the biggest issues IMO. I remember a couple of studies that showed NVIDIA caused 30% or more BSODS. I had an ATI card and had no issues, but saw my friends computers run into many BSODs with NVIDIA. I honestly liked Vista and felt it was a big step up from Windows XP.
 

che

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I used Vista for years with little to no problems (outside of drivers in the first few months). Was on two of my systems. And I was one of those people that preferred it to XP back then.
 

auntjemima

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WrUWnd5.png

Am I the only one seeing this weird character encoding? In Firefox, my text encoding is set to Unicode. It looks the same in Chrome and IE too.

On the other hand, Windows Millennium Edition isn't getting much love too.

I see the same character you see.

And yeah, Windows ME was a trainwreck. I hated working on peoples computers with that abomination on them.
 

The Cobra

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I went to an [H]ardocp/AMD (ATI) event back in 2007 when I first moved to San Francisco. I won one of the door prizes which contained a Leatherman Utility knife, some AMD t shirts and a copy of Windows Vista Ultimate. At the time, I was running an FX-60 with a pair of 7800 GTX's along with two gigs of ram. I installed Ultimate 64 and the system ran dog ass slow and the SLI wasn't supported yet in the Nvidia drivers. Fast forward a few months later...I purchased 16GB for a cool $450 from Fry's in Palo Alto, Nvidia released their SLI drivers and I also had snagged a pair of 8800 GTX's from Craigslist for $650 all in one weekend. In addition, Microsoft released SP1 for Vista. I went again and installed the OS from scratch....It actually ran really nice for a long time and served as my primary OS on my main machine(s) until Windows 8.1 was released. I never had any issues after that and once SP2 came out, the machine ran really nice. Just that initial release of Vista was a clusterfuck.
 

djoye

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Didn't read the article.

This is what happened:
XP with 1GB RAM = practically overkill
Vista 64-bit with 4GB RAM = absolutely necessary

Yeah, Vista was a lot heavier than XP, but it was also necessary. We were much more secure with Vista than with XP and we're better of now because of it.
 

ManofGod

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I still have two Vista Pro keys and one is still in used although rarely used. Just make sure to turn off the caching thing that tries to cache your entire HDD and go about your merry way.

If you turn off caching in Windows Vista, you end up with a much slower system as a consequence. I hated that Windows 7 dumped the initial caching of programs when the computer first booted up. What was the point in caching the most used programs in memory 7 minutes later if I have already opened everything I needed anyways! Vista was faster on a hard drive than 7 was on startup. They also did not provide a way to change the function back to a Vista era type of bootup program caching.

Edit: In fact, my Vista Home Premium 64 Bit ran extremely well with amd Phenom 9500, 2 x HD 2900 Pro's and 4GB of ram. I did have to disable TLB fix that was permanently enabled in Windows after SP2 but once I did that, it ran extremely well.

Edit: Damn, now I am feeling super nostalgic. :D
 
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Budzman

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Slow garbage computers and laptops killed Vista. Never ever had enough ram on any of those OEM systems. Coupled with slow ass 5400 rpm HDD's.
 

travbrad

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A lot of the problems with Vista have gotten better just through the passage of time. Hardware almost always has drivers now, plus you won't find machines with 512MB of memory anymore. 7 and 10 are still a bit faster and less bloated (although 10 is probably debatable) but in some hypothetical scenario where you reversed the releases of 7 and Vista, 7 would have had almost all of the same problems.
 

swatbat

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Shitty OEM's happened.

selling basic shit Xp computers with vista on it happened.

shitty peripheral manufacturers happened.

but people being people when a vista SP came out called windows 7 everything was suddenly better.

For the most part, you are missing two other major issues.

Vista was bashed by the it world before it came out. I ran into so many people who hated it that never actually had used or see it.

The other was kinda a catch 22. People were bitching at MS to do something with security. One of the big things was to finally follow a lot of other operating systems and run programs with limited rights. This caused all sorts of issues with software that wasn't designed for this. You had a bunch of other stuff changed as well. With the delays in vista's launch software vendors should have been able to be ready. They were not and it had bad compatibility issues. By the time windows 7 launched with the same back end changes software had caught up. Vista being the first real push of 64 bit added to this(windows xp 64 really wasn't ever pushed for standard desktop use).

Same thing happened with windows 2000. MS wanted that to be the OS that they combined the consumer and business sides. The software wasn't ready so they pushed a stop gap(windows me) for consumers. By the time xp came out 2000 had enough support that many things worked fine in it.
 

dragonstongue

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I think maybe the problem with Vista mainly was trying to plop a whole bunch of things in there, and not making sure things played nicely, 7 pretty much was a "sorted out Vista".

Absolutely was a problem on MSFT head for not ensuring "vendors" got kicked in the neck for being putzes putting a "made for Vista" sticker on things when they were not 100% compatible.

win 8-8.1 had their own issues
Win 10, bricking hardware, updates that cause boot loop etc, sheer example
Nv 100% DX12, another hting MSFT should have been very miffed about, if you say 100%, it means 100%, not picking and choosing what
is there in hardware, what is able to be emulated via software alone, this is not a big M restaurant where 100% can mean .00000001% of the final product is 100% "pure".

I think a good chunk of some of the problems (at launch and ongoing for quite a few folks) with Win 10 at least, maybe tried to trim things up a little too much and throw legacy things that most folks actually wanted
(media players and the like) in the garbage, why?
they needed space to code the unblockable spying things in there, while also making sure to not intelligently think that maybe folks are not unlimited internet data caps so who cares?
(and would prefer a way to set update for specific times or metered connection by default)
AH HA HA.

Win10 where MSFT decides to tell you when where and how you should use YOUR system, forced downloads, were unable to set when you wanted to get updates, "start is back" my ass etc ^.^.

Win 10, and Vista seemed to be more about those who knew how to properly set it all up (knew at least a thing or two to fix things if all did not go as planned) vs a true plug and play environment,
cannot imagine how frustrating it would have been/is to have system working fine one day, and a forced update mucking things up for the next day (lord forbid if something burned out on you because of their zeal to ensure "security")
It is always the users fault dont you know.

=============================================
==============
Sometimes change is NOT good (especially when it is not incrementally done to see how folks react/adapt)
a round wheel simply works fine as is, most are happy with a computer being a computer and a "smartphone" being a smartphone, leave well enough alone as they say.

For example, am quite sure much of the tweaking for better SSD usage or DX 12 could have been implemented into Win 7 just the same
how many game makers, software providers do a DLC/patch for a new version or yearly upgrade cycle for X dollars if you want in, no reason MSFT could not have done the same,
made a few $ and let folks keep the OS they are CONTENT using.
 

EODetroit

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They just need to stop fucking with the UI all the time. I want the Windows XP interface and to not have to learn some new interface, which is being changed only because some 24-year-old promoted well beyond his experience decided he liked something better. A better Windows underneath is fine, but what I don't want is to have to re-learn the UI every 3 years. Their supposed productivity increases is bullshit every time. And this is why I skipped Vista, skipped Windows 8 and 8.1, and its a large part of why I still haven't gone to 10.

Oh yeah, not sure it was the case for Vista, but they need to stop trying to pretend my desktop is a tablet. I want a desktop OS for my desktop. It has a high-res screen that I'm never going to touch, and I'm going to interact with it with a mouse and keyboard. Microsoft needs to get that through their thick heads.
 

dragonstongue

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They just need to stop fucking with the UI all the time. I want the Windows XP interface and to not have to learn some new interface, which is being changed only because some 24-year-old promoted well beyond his experience decided he liked something better. A better Windows underneath is fine, but what I don't want is to have to re-learn the UI every 3 years. Their supposed productivity increases is bullshit every time. And this is why I skipped Vista, skipped Windows 8 and 8.1, and its a large part of why I still haven't gone to 10.

Oh yeah, not sure it was the case for Vista, but they need to stop trying to pretend my desktop is a tablet. I want a desktop OS for my desktop. It has a high-res screen that I'm never going to touch, and I'm going to interact with it with a mouse and keyboard. Microsoft needs to get that through their thick heads.

Absolutely..would it be too much to ask for a simple 2 versions,
one that is that fancy crap (Metro works, for all them pretenders trying to be all fancy, glitzy or whatever)
one that is more my cup of tea..lets call it Windows KISS (keep it simple stupid)
Should be easy enough to give a choice to users, would take up all of probably 10mb of extra space.

not fancy crap pastel colors (I like the Aero look) all over the place puke on my keyboard type design (win XP was great, love Win 7 that much more, easy to find things, easy to sort things out)
clean out the guts if need be (perform better, longer, and much quicker to install the base OS) but, did they really need to reskin for 8 and 8.1 and 10, win 7 was perfect,
sure a few of the "new" features were cool, but, I dont want the damn start menu taking up like 1/2 of the screen with bloated tile approach FFS.

Like you said, not want to have to relearn a new UI constantly just because they want to "keep with the times" IMO, a tablet or a phone UI works fine, because they were designed as such,
a computer works fine as is, like you said, mouse and keyboard, you want "touch" sure
the option should be available (some folks need or want assistive design for many reasons) not a bad thing, but, forcing folks to "adapt" just because is terrible methodology,
they did not buy a computer to play with their touch screen (most did not) ^.^

Hey maybe in 10 years or so when VR/AR is much more common, for sure "touch" might be the way to do it, but for now, get outta my tool shed LOL.
 

nutzo

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There were many problems with Vista.

1. Required significantly more ram than XP just to run.
2. Required new video drivers and way too many of the new drivers sucked.
3. Initial version had too many bugs. Many where fixed by SP2, but by then it was too late to save Vista.
4. Required new print drivers, way too many of them caused the sprint spooler to crash.

Most of these where fixed in Windows 7, either by Microsoft or the 3rd party writing better drivers.

We had some dual core laptops that came with Vista, that we largely unusable, even with 4GB ram. Loaded XP on them and they worked great.
When Windows 7 came out, I installed Windows 7 64 bit and they worked as well as XP.
Eventually upgraded some of them to Windows 10, and they ran even better than they did under 7.
 

M76

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Shitty OEM's happened.

selling basic shit Xp computers with vista on it happened.

shitty peripheral manufacturers happened.

but people being people when a vista SP came out called windows 7 everything was suddenly better.
Only computers and driver availability. And that was enough.

And yeah vista was too big for it's own good, too big on memory consumption.
 

pandora's box

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Vista wasn't that bad imo. Drivers killed it though. Took Nvidia forever to code drivers for it, and I'm not sure they ever got them 100% stable.

Compared to Windows Me though, Vista was much more pleasant experience, lol.
 

gamerk2

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Speaking as a software engineer who works on large projects, this basically read as one of my many "Why our project fell the pieces" reports. I've seen this exact thing occur many times over the years.
 

CNote

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My old XP x64 Pro was the biggest piece of shit, it literally exploded in my dvd drive. So I got vista... which literally came with Win7 ready to install since they knew it was crap by then.
 

Dead Parrot

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His comments about the long development cycle and arriving at the end with features that don't make sense several years after starting work on them goes a long way to explaining Microsoft's desire to switch to the current Win 10 format of frequent smaller changes. Less chance of spending years on a project just to find out the world zagged rather then zigged. Sucks that in the process, Microsoft switched to the assumption that MS owns your system rather then you. Also makes it harder for end users to trust that their machines will just work.
 

BSmith

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Tried using Vista, but the media was not heavy enough, for the trotlines.
 

TheOne&OnlyZeke

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In my view, part of the issue as others have said is OEMs selling fucking total garbage machines with 1gb of ram and Vista on it
On boot up alone it would consume 900mb minimum

I ran it at home on my PC (can't remember the exact spec) and with a few small tweaks it ran fine...7 was far far better though
 

B00nie

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Heh funny that they admit it - Windows since Vista has focused on Microsoft instead of its customers.
 

timberwolf

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They just need to stop fucking with the UI all the time. I want the Windows XP interface and to not have to learn some new interface, which is being changed only because some 24-year-old promoted well beyond his experience decided he liked something better. A better Windows underneath is fine, but what I don't want is to have to re-learn the UI every 3 years. Their supposed productivity increases is bullshit every time. And this is why I skipped Vista, skipped Windows 8 and 8.1, and its a large part of why I still haven't gone to 10.

Oh yeah, not sure it was the case for Vista, but they need to stop trying to pretend my desktop is a tablet. I want a desktop OS for my desktop. It has a high-res screen that I'm never going to touch, and I'm going to interact with it with a mouse and keyboard. Microsoft needs to get that through their thick heads.

^This^. AND apply it to Windows 10 too,
 
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