When Vista was released, and the first reviews started to trickle in, it became apparent that Vista was a massive release – not only in terms of money spent on it by Microsoft and the amount of promotion, but also the operating system itself. It was huge, and it felt as such too. Despite what many have been saying the past year, Vista is, in fact, much more than just XP with a new theme. Basically every framework and feature has been rewritten, lots of new ones have been added, and, according to some, the process of modularisation has started with Vista (and Server 2008). It may come as no surprise that all these changes resulted in a whole boatload of bugs and breakage, which led many people to conclude that Vista was simply not as “done” as it should have been when released. Steve Ballmer confirmed these sentiments in a speech at Microsoft’s Most Valuable Professionals conference in Seattle.Ballmer said in his speech to Microsoft’s MVPs:
Windows Vista: A work in progress. [Laughter, applause.] A very important piece of work, and I think we did a lot of things right, and I think we have a lot of things we need to learn from. Certainly, you never want to let five years go between releases. Can we just sort of kiss that stone and move on? Because it turns out many things become problematic when you have those long release cycles. The design point, what you should be targeting. We can’t ever let that happen again. We had some things that we can’t just set the dial back, but I think people wish we could. Vista is bigger than XP. It’s going to stay bigger than XP. We have to make sure it doesn’t get bigger still, and that the performance and that the battery life and that the compatibility, we’re driving on the things that we need to drive hard to improve.
This is quite a frank admission by Microsoft’s CEO, which echoes the sentiments I and others brought forth last year: Vista is big and complex, and Microsoft needs to make sure it doesn’t turn into something even bigger and more complex. However, Ballmer also notes that a lot of big and important steps were taken with Vista, and that the input of the MVPs is valuable in helping Microsoft to continue down this road.
In addition, Ballmer acknowledges that a lot of people are sticking to XP, and that as long as that is the case, Microsoft will remain “sensitive” and will hear what these people have to say. He did not make any promises with regards to extending XP’s life cycle, though. “And I know we’re going to continue to get feedback from people on how long XP should be available. We’ve got some opinions on that, we’ve expressed our views.”