Windows Vista: Microsoft’s hated but daring OS is shutting down for good

windows vista disc andy melton flickr

It’s finally here. Today is the final day that Microsoft will support Windows Vista.

From 12 April, Windows Vista will effectively be disowned by Microsoft, thrown out of the house by its parents, and forced to get a job of its own.

“After April 11, 2017, Windows Vista customers will no longer receive new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates from Microsoft,” the company writes in an ultimatum.

“Microsoft has provided support for Windows Vista for the past 10 years, but the time has come for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources towards more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences.”

It’s been a long time coming for Vista though, considering that the end of its mainstream support window shuttered in April 2012 — nearly six years after its debut.

Back then, when smartphones, Uber, dual cameras and PewDiePie were barely tangible concepts, the company had high hopes for Vista.

Redmond audaciously predicted that 200-million people would be using its latest OS by the end of 2007.

From the archives | 10 things we’re really going to miss about Windows XP

On 8 April 2014, Microsoft will finally cease support for its stalwart OS Windows XP. Released to manufacture back in August 2001, the company’s second most popular OS will be kicked out of Redmond well before its thirteenth birthday. Read more…

That might seem like a lowly estimate compared to the company’s current billion Windows 10 users in three years target, but was sufficient for a period that saw Google buy YouTube, Pluto relegated to the dwarf planet league, and the debut of the PlayStation 3.

The company barely reached that goal in July 2008, selling 180-million licences.

‘Windows Vista customers will no longer receive new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support’

In its own right, Vista was fresh and stacked with new technologies compared to Windows XP.

It introduced a new transparent taskbar and UI element system dubbed Aero, a new shell, a circular Start button, and a permanent search bar at the foot of the Start Panel just to name a few. Incidentally, that search mentality remains a fixture in Windows’ OS design methodology to this day.

It also added Windows DVD Maker — a program that allowed users to burn data to the latest disc technology available. And we haven’t even mentioned new User Account Control systems, the debut of Widgets on the desktop, or the OS’s DRM management.

Sounds great, right? Well, consumers didn’t quite take a liking to it.

MRW when my boss upgrades all our computers to Vista

It often received slack from customers for its instability, its bloated boot times and seemingly endless strings of compatibility problems with Windows XP-era wares. It was also large, requiring between 20 and 40GB of installation space, and required at least 1GB of RAM. In my experience, this was never quite enough.

Our sister site Gearburn adjudged it to be one of the six worst operating systems ever made in a January 2014 article. Ouch.

As a result of the issues, negative sentiment and the yearning of nostalgia, many users decided to downgrade to Windows XP, a process the company would repeat a few years later with Windows 8.

But while the OS wasn’t the most universally appreciated in Microsoft’s 30-odd year history, it’s definitely one of its most memorable.

Andy Walker, former editor


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