Five reasons why Windows Vista failed

November 1, 2008 at 6:37 pm 19 comments

Microsoft gave computer makers a six-month extension for offering Windows XP on newly-shipped PCs. While this doesn’t impact enterprise IT — because volume licensing agreements will allow IT to keep installing Windows XP for many years to come — the move is another symbolic nail in Vista’s coffin.

The public reputation of Windows Vista is in shambles, as Microsoft itself tacitly acknowledged in its Mojave ad campaign.

IT departments are largely ignoring Vista. In June (18 months after Vista’s launch), Forrester Research reported that just 8.8% of enterprise PCs worldwide were running Vista. Meanwhile, Microsoft appears to have put Windows 7 on an accelerated schedule that could see it released in 2010. That will provide IT departments with all the justification they need to simply skip Vista and wait to eventually standardize on Windows 7 as the next OS for business.

So how did Vista get left holding the bag? Let’s look at the five most important reasons why Vista failed.

5. Apple successfully demonized Vista

Apple’s clever I’m a Mac ads have successfully driven home the perception that Windows Vista is buggy, boring, and difficult to use. After taking two years of merciless pummeling from Apple, Microsoft recently responded with it’s I’m a PC campaign in order to defend the honor of Windows. This will likely restore some mojo to the PC and Windows brands overall, but it’s too late to save Vista’s perception as a dud.

4. Windows XP is too entrenched

In 2001, when Windows XP was released, there were about 600 million computers in use worldwide. Over 80% of them were running Windows but it was split between two code bases: Windows 95/98 (65%) and Windows NT/2000 (26%), according to IDC. One of the big goals of Windows XP was to unite the Windows 9x and Windows NT code bases, and it eventually accomplished that.

In 2008, there are now over 1.1 billion PCs in use worldwide and over 70% of them are running Windows XP. That means almost 800 million computers are running XP, which makes it the most widely installed operating system of all time. That’s a lot of inertia to overcome, especially for IT departments that have consolidated their deployments and applications around Windows XP.

And, believe it or not, Windows XP could actually increase its market share over the next couple years. How? Low-cost netbooks and nettops are going to be flooding the market. While these inexpensive machines are powerful enough to provide a solid Internet experience for most users, they don’t have enough resources to run Windows Vista, so they all run either Windows XP or Linux. Intel expects this market to explode in the years ahead. (For more on netbooks and nettops, see this fact sheet and this presentation — both are PDFs from Intel.)

3. Vista is too slow

For years Microsoft has been criticized by developers and IT professionals for “software bloat” — adding so many changes and features to its programs that the code gets huge and unwieldy. However, this never seemed to have enough of an effect to impact software sales. With Windows Vista, software bloat appears to have finally caught up with Microsoft.

Vista has over 50 million lines of code. XP had 35 million when it was released, and since then it has grown to about 40 million.  This software bloat has had the effect of slowing down Windows Vista, especially when it’s running on anything but the latest and fastest hardware. Even then, the latest version of Windows XP soundly outperforms the latest version of Microsoft Vista. No one wants to use a new computer that is slower than their old one.

2. There wasn’t supposed to be a Vista

It’s easy to forget that when Microsoft launched Windows XP it was actually trying to change its OS business model to move away from shrink-wrapped software and convert customers to software subscribers. That’s why it abandoned the naming convention of Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows 2000, and instead chose Windows XP.

The XP stood for “experience” and was part of Microsoft’s .NET Web services strategy at the time. The master plan was to get users and businesses to pay a yearly subscription fee for the Windows experience — XP would essentially be the on-going product name but would include all software upgrades and updates, as long as you paid for your subscription. Of course, it would disable Windows on your PC if you didn’t pay. That’s why product activation was coupled with Windows XP.

Microsoft released Windows XP and Office XP simultaneously in 2001 and both included product activation and the plan to eventually migrate to subscription products. However, by the end of 2001 Microsoft had already abandoned the subscription concept with Office, and quickly returned to the shrink-wrapped business model and the old product development model with both products.

The idea of doing incremental releases and upgrades of its software — rather than a major shrink-wrapped release every 3-5 years — was a good concept. Microsoft just couldn’t figure out how to make the business model work, but instead of figuring out how to get it right, it took the easy route and went back to an old model that was simply not very well suited to the economic and technical realities of today’s IT world.

1. It broke too much stuff

One of the big reasons that Windows XP caught on was because it had the hardware, software, and driver compatibility of the Windows 9x line plus the stability and industrial strength of the Windows NT line. The compatibility issue was huge. Having a single, highly-compatible Windows platform simplified the computing experience for users, IT departments, and software and hardware vendors.

Microsoft either forgot or disregarded that fact when it released Windows Vista, because, despite a long beta period, a lot of existing software and hardware were not compatible with Vista when it was released in January 2007. Since many important programs and peripherals were unusable in Vista, that made it impossible for a lot of IT departments to adopt it. Many of the incompatibilities were the result of tighter security.

After Windows was targeted by a nasty string of viruses, worms, and malware in the early 2000s, Microsoft embarked on the Trustworthy Computing initiative to make its products more secure. One of the results was Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), which won over IT and paved the way for XP to become the world’s mostly widely deployed OS.

The other big piece of Trustworthy Computing was the even-further-locked-down version of Windows that Microsoft released in Vista. This was definitely the most secure OS that Microsoft had ever released but the price was user-hostile features such as UAC, a far more complicated set of security prompts that accompanied many basic tasks, and a host of software incompatibility issues. In order words, Vista broke a lot of the things that users were used to doing in XP.

Bottom line

There are some who argue that Vista is actually more widely adopted than XP was at this stage after its release, and that it’s highly likely that Vista will eventually replace XP in the enterprise. I don’t agree. With XP, there were clear motivations to migrate: bring Windows 9x machines to a more stable and secure OS and bring Windows NT/2000 machines to an OS with much better hardware and software compatibility. And, you also had the advantage of consolidating all of those machines on a single OS in order to simplify support.

With Vista, there are simply no major incentives for IT to use it over XP. Security isn’t even that big of an issue because XP SP2 (and above) are solid and most IT departments have it locked down quite well. As I wrote in the article Prediction: Microsoft will leapfrog Vista, release Windows 7 early, and change its OS business, Microsoft needs to abandon the strategy of releasing a new OS every 3-5 years and simply stick with a single version of Windows and release updates, patches, and new features on a regular basis. Most IT departments are essentially already on a subscription model with Microsoft so the business strategy is already in place there.

As far as the subscription model goes for small businesses and consumers, instead of disabling Windows on a user’s PC if they don’t renew their subscription, just don’t allow that machine to get any more updates until they renew. Microsoft could also work with OEMs to sell something like a three-year subscription to Windows with every a new PC. Then users would have the choice of renewing on their own after that.

Source: TechRepublic

Entry filed under: info, Techy. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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19 Comments Add your own

  • 1. nadia  |  November 1, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    I never had to personally experience Vista, so no comment. But I definitely saw your irritation with it and finally decided to install XP 🙂

    ~LOL, that was one of the signs of frustrating Vista;)

  • […] Five reasons why Windows Vista failed […]

  • 3. quotes  |  November 1, 2008 at 7:47 pm

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  • 4. misspecs  |  November 2, 2008 at 2:07 am

    This is a great article.

    I wrote some days ago about a new Fujitsu Siemens laptop that we got. It cost about 1500 UK Pounds and has the latest in everything…included this dreaded vista. Although vista is aesthetically more pleasing, even with the latest speediest processors that money could buy, it takes longer to load than my old XP’d HP Laptop. Its really irritating.

    I’m no programmer, but I’d definitely agree with you on the software bloating issue. The rest of the issues are not very understandable for me since I don’t have more than a layman’s knowledge of this!

    ~ Really it’s very irritating, we recently bought a Toshiba Laptop and my brother was scratching his head with Vista, I downgraded to XP;). It’s super fast now:)

  • 5. misspecs  |  November 2, 2008 at 2:11 am

    Oh, and congrats on the award! 🙂

    ~Thank You:)

  • 6. Amina  |  November 3, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    I totally agree with you. Vista is like a pin in ass. sometimes less is more, and XP is best!

    ~ Welcome and Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • 7. Ordinary Girl  |  November 8, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    Could only get a few points of the post since I am not a IT person, despite having a degree in CS! 😆

    Other than the technical points you mentioned, probably they released VIsta too close to XP … and people were so comfortable with XP that they aren’t willing to move to Vista. In a way, XP’s success ate up Vista.

    P.S. I love that I am a Mac ad. 😀

    ~ Hmmm, Yes, I too agree that XP’s success ate up Vista and it’s not upto the standard of XP.

  • 8. betterworldforus  |  April 2, 2009 at 10:15 am

    yeah , vista suck big time!

    i never changed my windows xp to vista…

    xp is way way better than vista!


  • 9. Cosmicb  |  May 18, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    It’s obvious why Vista failed.. It runs and looks like someone insane wrote it…

    After Windows 2000, all the Windows stuff came out gaudy and way too glitchy, all full of exploitable holes, expensive, full of extreme corporate security, and even some nasty public bullying…

    The cure is oh too easy:
    Download this: (Pick a place, and click the area just under “choose a location”)… Download it to desktop…
    Copy the image to a regular CD, at the slowest copy-speed possible…
    Leave the CD in the slot, Use the existing hd, or change hd’s in your tower.. and Reboot…
    Answer the 8-questions, and wait about 3/4’s of an hour…
    Click restart, remove the CD, hit Enter, then click up System>Admin>Update-Mgr, type-in your password.. and wait about a half hour… It’s updated…
    Then click-up System>Admin>Synaptic-PM>Search for SeaMonkey, Hydrogen, Freebirth, Add them…
    Plug-in your printer, and just wait a minute.. It’s installed…
    Now go into the nastiest websites you can imagine, and see that they can’t harm the OS…
    Click-up Freebirth, and invent a new tune…

    Right click the desktop, and change prefs… Pull a pix into the background-box…
    Right-click up a folder, and change prefs in edit…
    Change prefs in SeaMonkey…
    Try to find a registry cleaner, a trojan cleaner, a defrag, a spyware cleaner, a junk cleaner… You can’t.. cuz this OS doesn’t need those cleaners…
    If you want a new software, click-up synaptic, and search for it.. It’s all there, and it’s all free.. and you don’t even need to surf the Web to find it… It finds it, downloads it, and installs it… It’s all state of the art software, for free.. and without any of the eulas and security holes… It’s like the difference between heaven and hell… Hell being the Windows scene…

    It’s a little boring, because you don’t need to run all over the OS to clean it up, and beef it up… It’s just a super good state of the art modern OS… And you already know 80% of it by running Windows…

    Now surf “Ubuntu Conky”.. and “cosmicb femalefirst”…

  • 10. BewFeemtern  |  June 27, 2009 at 6:59 am

    Greetings to All!

    I just wanted to comment on the contribution of this community here. It’s amazing.

    I want to contribute my part to this forum as well

    There is a site that has been extremely helpful to myself and some associates of mine. That site is and they offer online computer repair

    I hope that my contribution has been substantial and you also are able to use their services just as I have.

  • 11. ordilsogs  |  September 11, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Has anyone here tried the 3Dmagix animation software yet?

    How does 3d magix compare to Maya or 3DMax?

    If you’re into 3d animation, do share your thoughts.

    Thanks – ordilsogs

  • 12. Pharmg879  |  October 23, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Very nice site!

  • 13. Pharmb611  |  October 23, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Very nice site!

  • 14. Pharme186  |  October 23, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Very nice site!

  • 15. ITjob  |  January 27, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    I have Windows XP. As for Vista, well, soe of my acquaintances have it and I have never heard them saying something was wrong with it. Anyway, every company may have a failure.

  • 16. AVP  |  June 8, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    Vista seemed like a test bed where all the buggy features would have been identified and ironed out for making Windows 7.

    Example:The file copy sucked when Vista was originally released,after service packs it got better while no such problem at all in Windows 7.

    Just my 2 cents.


  • 17. Dragonspirit  |  January 8, 2011 at 8:13 am

    I was “forced” to setup my 87 mum’s new desktop.. It has W-7…
    It’s been a nightmare…

    Seems a few “regscrub detected registry entries” conflict with RegScrub, making it poison to an OS… I wonders if those troublesome entries were designed to do specifically that..?

    Is there a free-alternative to RegScrub’s high quality functioning as a registry cleaner..? Did anyone offer RegScrub a paid-spot, or did they just “rip out the rug” to watch ’em squirm in pain, to , and enjoy the fleeting salty taste of “the kill”.. like “sniffing a wine cork”..?

    Thing is, bullies will be fully exposed one day a few years from now, as technology evolves out of its shell, into a time when that kind of crap can’t be hidden any more… Us seeing it, would give the feel that someone Shat in our faces, a Lot.. That would be like having 6-billion people all angry at you.. It would go very bad for the bully, and for all its “peripheral-lace”…
    I wonders how many would leap out of high windows that day..?
    The question remains: “Would the bully thus be erased from the Internet..? Or would trace be left, so to remind humanity what it was that caused it all that pain for so long..? like “how pirates were left on the seashore to feed the fish and birds”…

  • 18. Salvador Cutrona  |  March 8, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Superb, Thanks ! a great deal mate

  • 19. optimizare seo  |  March 8, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    I thought it was going to beanother boring old post like on almost every blogs , but it sincerely compensated for my time with your very good.


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