Technologizer has an interesting article about why Windows Vista failed, and it provides 16 reasons why this is the case. A few of those reasons reveal a certain lack of understanding, but a more pressing issue is that while listing these reasons individually is interesting, Vista’s failure in the marketplace can be explained in a much more compact fashion.
I wasn’t planning on touching on each of the reasons listed specifically, but there are a few I want to add my thoughts to. The fist one that really struck me as the author not fully understanding Vista is the one about Aero being about nothing more than translucency. “Vista’s signature feature was the Aero user interface, which…drum roll!… consisted mostly of making the frames of windows transparent,” the author claims.
The author is missing the big point here by about 3923823 miles. Aero is not the important feature – Aero is just a theme. The feature that matters is the Desktop Window Manager, which meant that Windows finally moved beyond the tearing and jerkiness of GDI. It required a hefty video card in its day, and Microsoft and the OEMs made a big mess out of the whole thing, but equating DWM to just translucency shows a clear lack of understanding of the importance of a compositing window manager.
The article also severely overstates Apple’s influence on the failure of Windows Vista, probably reflecting the American background of the author. While Apple certainly plays a major role in the desktop market in the US, that is simply not the case outside of the US; according to Apple’s latest financial results, 4.53% of the world’s population (the US) accounts for 56% of Apple’s sales.
The author continues to overstate Apple’s importance in this matter by referring to the Get a Mac campaign. This campaign is limited to the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Japan, meaning that most of the world’s television viewing public has never heard or even seen any of these ads, so they couldn’t have played that much of an important role in Vista’s failure.
No, Vista’s failure can be explained much more easily. Windows Vista was an overhaul of the entire Windows operating system, top to bottom, with every framework being overhauled or completely re-written. This introduced a whole boatload of issues that Microsoft was unable to fix, but because they had already lost precious time due to the Longhorn fiasco, they were forced to get Vista to market way too soon – resulting in an operating system that simply wasn’t ready for prime time.
It is only now, with Windows 7, that we’re starting to see Windows Vista grow up and become truly usable. Windows 7 pulls together and builds upon the new features and frameworks of Windows Vista, presenting them in useful ways that make using the operating system more pleasant to use. Windows 7 is what Windows Vista should’ve been from the start.
Windows Vista, in its state during release, should have never been promoted the way it was. Microsoft promised a well-rounded meal, but in fact only gave you the raw ingredients, and that’s where it went wrong, and all of the 16 reasons in the original article more or less boil down to that.