Windows Vista was one of the most awaited operating systems from Microsoft. It is one of the most ambitious projects for Microsoft and also one of the largest software projects.
Windows Vista was released worldwide, five years after Windows XP has been introduced, which is the longest gap between Microsoft releases. It was launched with much aplomb with several new and better features and huge promises of a better computing experience. A lot was expected of it, especially due to the long wait.
Windows Vista has the visual sophistication not seen in the previous operating systems and the ease of use is remarkable. The Windows Start menu has been made much faster than the previous versions, with the integration of the Instant Search feature that helps find almost anything on the PC instantly. Windows Aero, which is the first of its kind in a Windows operating system has translucent window borders and icons. Taskbar tabs show graphical preview of the window’s contents. Windows layout has changed for the better.
However, Microsoft’s primary objective with Vista was to increase the security in the Windows operating system, which was a cause for complaints in their previous operating system, Windows XP. Vista is certainly the most secure version of Windows yet. It is aimed at protecting the PC from worms, spyware, viruses and other unwanted software and is a huge step forward from Windows XP security. The User Account Control (UAC) feature which is one of the significant changes, is felt to be annoying and obtrusive. Accessing files over a network is slower in Vista that the other operating systems. Although, there is a whole lot more security in Vista, unnecessary extra features bog down network sharing. Windows Vista is slower than XP.
Although, Windows Vista was found favorable when it was launched, this sentiment has not been shared by too many Windows users. Surprisingly, Microsoft faced competition for its Windows Vista from none other than its very own Windows XP.
Windows Vista faced severe post-launch pains and all of Microsoft’s efforts at creating magic with their news desktop OS in five years, fell flat. Microsoft tried its best to reiterate why Vista is a great successor to XP, in a market where users do not appreciate change. However, they failed to do this convincingly, in part due to a technological mishap.
In the past year, there have been many bugs that have been discovered and Microsoft was busy bringing out patches for all those quirks. Before the first service pack was out, Microsoft has released various patches as well as the reliability and compatibility packs, which seemed to have solved many of the earlier complaints about Vista.
As it is well known, most businesses will not touch a Microsoft product until the release of the first service pack. They wait until the product is used widely and the problems identified and solved. This in turn puts a lot of pressure on Microsoft, whose products, as good as they may be, will not find too many customers until the first service pack. This makes the first service pack almost as important as the product launch itself, if not more.
Windows Vista Service Pack 1 contains all those changes that are focused on addressing the performance and reliability issues, supporting new hardware as well as adding support for many new standards. However, in April 2008, there was a compatibility issue found between Microsoft Dynamics’ Retail Management System and SP1 and RMS users were advised to stop installing the service pack till the new tweaked version was made available again.
Microsoft aims at showing their customers and businesses that Vista is now ready for them and also that a reliable and secure server can be built out of it. Experts say that on the one hand, Windows Vista is the slickest version of Windows with lots of nice touches. On the other hand, it is slow and has a lot of features that do not work as well as expected.
Amidst all this dissatisfaction over Windows Vista, credit has to be given where it is due and there is a whole segment of users who find Vista advantageous and that is the PC gamers, who consider DirectX 10 as providing better gaming experience with realistic graphics.
However, usage of Windows Vista has been low and it had to face harsh criticism from all sectors, in spite of the fact that more than 20 million Vista copies were sold initially in the first month, which is double the amount of Windows XP sales when it was first released. This shows the high expectations that were garnered during the long wait. But that figure has not sustained, with a large percentage of the buyers still using XP. The percentage of corporate customers who are totally satisfied with Windows Vista is estimated to be much lower than that of Windows XP.
Due to the continued demand for Windows XP, in an attempt to please the distraught Vista customers, Microsoft has decided to extend sales of XP, even allowing them to go back to XP by giving downgrade rights. Enterprise customers, Windows Vista Ultimate and Windows Vista Business customers can downgrade to Windows XP Professional if they wish to. The company also said that it will continue the sales of Windows XP for the ultra-low-cost PCs until mid-2010.
Microsoft also said that due to Vista’s incompatibility issues, they have decided to come out with Windows 7 that will have the core architecture of Windows Vista. Many businesses that were waiting for Windows Vista Service Pack 1 to be released before deciding to migrate, seem to have now decided to wait for the new Windows operating system, and this calls for a wait until late 2009. Hope begins all over again and this time it is hoped that Microsoft will leave no stone unturned.