Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 11th Apr 2017 21:17 UTC

Released to manufacturing on November 8, 2006 and shipping to consumers on January 30, 2007, Windows Vista had a troubled development and a troubled life once it shipped. But it was an essential Windows release, laying the groundwork for Windows 7 and beyond. For all the criticism that Vista and Microsoft received, the company never really backtracked on the contentious aspects of the release. After a while, those aspects just stopped being contentious.

I reviewed Windows Vista way back in 2006 for OSNews, in two parts, followed by another look at the operating system five months later (my fascination with post-XP Windows started all the way back in 2003, when I wrote a Longhorn review for OSNews - three years before I actually joined the OSNews team).

The importance of Windows Vista cannot be overstated. In hindsight, it was probably the most important Windows release since Windows 95, as it was a massive overhaul of countless crucial aspects of Windows NT that we still use and rely on today. A new graphics stack, a new audio stack, a new networking stack, a complete overhaul and cleaning of the lowest-level parts of the kernel, and so much more.

Windows Vista ended many terrible design decisions from the XP and earlier days. No more kernel access for developers, a new driver model, no more programs running as administrator, and so on. Microsoft forced Windows users to bite the bullet and endure endless UAC dialogs, but it all paid off in the end.

And on a personal note, Windows Vista came after Windows XP, and Windows XP was one of the worst operating systems I have ever used. I despise Windows XP, and would rather use a $200 2005 Acer laptop with Vista than a fancy 2009 Sony VAIO or whatever running XP. Windows Vista set the scene for Windows 7 to murder Windows XP for good, and for that reason alone, Vista gets 56 thumbs up from me.

Vista was part of a very large undertaking inside Microsoft to completely overhaul the low-level parts of Windows, to prepare the platform for the next decade and beyond. It led to Windows 7, Windows Phone, Windows on the Xbox One, and countless other variants. Not all of those are or were successful, but each of them are still fruits of the incredible engineering work Microsoft's women and men undertook to salvage the architectural trainwreck that was Windows XP and earlier.

They did an absolutely amazing job, and on this day, I commend them for it.

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RE[4]: Comment by Darkmage
by drstorm on Thu 13th Apr 2017 18:38 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by Darkmage"
Member since:

Yes, Wikipedia confirms that the claim that Windows 95 was "a GUI on top of a stretched-out, pimped-out version of MS-DOS" is nonsense.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by Darkmage
by grat on Thu 13th Apr 2017 19:24 in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by Darkmage"
grat Member since:

As someone who spent years developing, deploying, and maintaining Windows 95 and 98 builds for several hundred lab seats at a major university, I assure you-- Windows 95 and 98 consisted of a 32 bit environment that booted on top of a 16 bit system. If you took the boot files from a Windows 9x system, you would have "MS-DOS 7.0", and it would be just as functional an "operating system" as MS-DOS 6.x (assuming you added compatible DOS utilities).

It was also the subsystem that Windows 9x used for 16 bit functions, real mode drivers, and any TSR style software-- it was all loaded before the win32 subsystem.

So yes, Windows 95 and 98 were a GUI (and a bit more) loaded on top of an enhanced version of MS-DOS, much like Windows 3.x before it.

It wasn't until Windows NT that windows got a true 32 bit kernel that loaded as the first layer (well, third if you count BIOS and MBR) of the operating system.

My other primary criticism of Windows 9x is that it wasn't truly multi-user-- multiple profiles were possible, but without robust file system acl's (ie, NTFS), security in Windows 9x was a joke.

Since all Windows software from the 9x era expected to have unlimited access to the system, properly locking down NT 4.0, 2000, and XP was also problematic-- convenience outweighed security, and many applications wouldn't function unless they were run as "Administrator", even though they had no need for that level of access.

Getting back to the original article, that was why Windows Vista was both necessary, and a disaster-- It finally started enforcing rules that had theoretically been present since the days of win32s, but that everyone pretty much ignored.

Any software that refused to work under Windows Vista ("Just disable UAC! UAC breaks everything!") resulted in Vista getting the blame, instead of the lazy programmers who'd been scribbling in Visual Basic Studio for decades.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[6]: Comment by Darkmage
by Drumhellar on Thu 13th Apr 2017 21:47 in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by Darkmage"
Drumhellar Member since:

So yes, Windows 95 and 98 were a GUI (and a bit more) loaded on top of an enhanced version of MS-DOS, much like Windows 3.x before it.

No, it wasn't.

DOS served two functions in Windows 9x:

-Act as a boot loader
-Maintain compatibility with 16-bit DOS drivers.

It wasn't DOS. It wasn't a DOS extension. It wasn't a GUI on top of DOS.

It was an independent fully 32-bit operating system, offering memory protection and pre-emptive multitasking. It had its own 32-bit drivers, fully 32-bit API, etc etc, none of which depended on DOS.

I posted this above, but you apparently didn't notice it, but here's a very nice explanation of DOS's role in Windows 9x:

As Raymond Chen writes,
In other words, MS-DOS was just an extremely elaborate decoy. Any 16-bit drivers and programs would patch or hook what they thought was the real MS-DOS, but which was in reality just a decoy. If the 32-bit file system manager detected that somebody bought the decoy, it told the decoy to quack.

Keep in mind that he actually was a Windows developer, for a long time.

Basically, no, it isn't DOS - if you didn't use DOS drivers, DOS code wasn't called at all beyond booting.

And, if you want to consider using it to boot as making Windows 9x merely an extension of DOS, then you might as well include earlier versions of Linux as DOS extensions, since they could also use DOS to boot (remember loadlin.exe?)

Edited 2017-04-13 21:48 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2