There is a urban legend that every other release of Windows is substandard compared to its predecessor and successor. Windows Vista suffered from that perception as it was released in between what are considered the most popular versions ever of the companies operating system - Windows XP and Windows 7.
On 11 April 2017, which also happens to be the General Availability date of the next feature update for Windows 10 - the Creators Update, Windows Vista will drop off of Microsoft's lifecycle support list after over 10 years on the market.
The development of Windows Vista was wrapped up on 08 November 2006 and it was made available to the general public on 30 January 2007 but its journey to that public release was not without issues.
In September of 2005, then Microsoft executive Jim Allchin, explained to the world in a front page article in the Wall Street Journal that the development of this version of the OS had crashed into the ground. Citing haphazard addition of new features without any cohesive vision of where they where heading. Allchin went on to reveal the company had done a complete reset of Windows Vista's development and in September 2004 the company began from scratch to deliver this next version of Windows.
Coincidentally, it was at this reset of Windows Vista's core development that I was accepted by Microsoft into my first OS beta as a private tester. Back in those days there was not a Windows Insider Program like we have today for Windows 10 and as we have learned over the last few years, the feedback loop in those days was slow and mainly focused on major bugs. Opportunities to modify the user interface were nearly non-existent as a beta tester.
I am sure there are many factors to blame when it comes to questioning Windows Vista's apparent unpopularity but one of the most obvious was the need for a fairly powerful PC to achieve decent performance with the new Aero interface. That meant a new machine was required and very rarely was a computer capable of running Windows XP able to be a direct upgrade to Windows Vista due to these lack of specs on that hardware. Users could of course upgrade their hardware and end up with a decent system running Windows Vista but many users skipped that process.
Of course, there were options to turn off all the Windows Aero visuals by using the included visual styles such as Windows Vista Standard, Windows Vista Basic, and Windows Standard with the latter reverting the UI back to a very basic gray and blue look.
Another issue around the release of Windows Vista was the new hardware driver model changes. This change meant OEMs had to issue new drivers for compatibility with Windows Vista. Unfortunately, many hardware companies seemed to use this as an opportunity to force hardware upgrades by choosing not to issue the new hardware drivers for their products.
Ultimately, it is believed that Windows Vista never climbed above about 30% of the Windows market share and as of February 2017 was running on around 0.78% of the Windows computers on the Internet.
With all of that said, to run Windows Vista on a machine capable of showing off that shiny, reflective Windows Aero interface was a pleasure to interact with on a daily basis.
In the long run Windows Vista will always be considered a failure as an OS by most because of the issues mentioned above like hardware specs, poor driver upgrade support by OEMs, and lack of market share and adoption in the Enterprise/Business areas which was so important to Microsoft in those days. Less than three years after Vista's release, Microsoft had Windows 7 on the market and it quickly gained market share by outselling its predecessor on every level.
Today I think the most remembered and revered aspect of Windows Vista was its biggest detractor for performance - the Windows Aero interface. You can see that in the Windows 10 Feedback Hub as Windows Insiders ask for more transparency and aero-style effects in the user interface of Microsoft latest operating system.
I hope this gallery of Windows Vista through the installation process and some of the user interface views brings back some memories for you like it did for me.
As an added bonus, I extracted all 36 wallpaper images from my VM install of Windows Vista and have made them available in a compressed zip archive that you can download from OneDrive to relive those Windows Vista Desktop glory days.
So long Windows Vista and thanks for all the memories!
Any favorite or not so favorite memories about Windows Vista?