It isn’t easy being Windows Vista, living with the stigma of being inferior to its predecessor.
In fairness, Windows Vista got off on the wrong foot when it launched in early 2007. Microsoft knows this, but for obvious reasons must downplay many of the operating system’s issues. It is for that reason, then, that it surprised many that a “high-ranking Windows product manager” spoke to Maximum PC in mid-June about Vista’s teething problems.
The Microsoft employee detailed several key issues that plagued the early days, many of which can be attributed to bad GPU drivers from Nvidia. While it would be unwise for Microsoft to point the finger at a major hardware partner, internal Microsoft memos put 18 percent of all Vista crashes around launch time as a result of unstable Nvidia drivers.
Along with unstable drivers, gamers had a reason to be especially disappointed with the OS as games ran better and faster on Windows XP. Moving to the newer OS was often a dramatic downgrade in performance. The source told Maximum PC that “spending the money to port DirectX 10 to Windows XP would have been worth the expense.” Even more crushing might be his view on the Games for Windows initiative, calling it “a disaster, with nothing more than 64-bit compatibility for games to show for years of effort.”
The source also conceded that Apple’s control over the software and hardware side allows it to avoid such compatibility problems, making Macs more and more appealing to consumers.
Windows Vista also annoyed users quickly with its User Account Control, prompting users at every change made to the system. Vista users have become so accustomed to clicking “allow” on all warnings that one has to wonder if the system is really that much more secure when factoring user habits.
According to Erik Lustig, a senior product manager responsible for Windows Fundamentals, Windows Vista is the most secure Microsoft operating system to date, validating some of the design choices. For the move from XP to Vista, Lustig said Microsoft made “changes that have had some short-term ramifications that we’ve worked very hard the last year and a half, and through Service Pack 1, to address. ... I believe that those changes are going to be a fundamental basis for the integrity of the platform.”
Perhaps the biggest shortcoming of Windows Vista is that it launched before it was fully ready. While many users still maintain their preference for Windows XP, few may realize how far Vista has come thanks to Service Pack 1.
With half a year already under Windows Vista SP1’s belt, the operating system is now performing at levels expected of it at launch. Windows Vista is now stable, fast and perhaps most importantly, more secure. It’s unfortunate then, that most current Windows XP users won’t see the strides made by Microsoft until the launch of Windows 7.