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Vista: The black sheep of the Windows family?

Updated on January 5, 2016
Working Daze © John Zakour/Scott Roberts
Working Daze © John Zakour/Scott Roberts

Microsoft Windows is the most popular operating system in the world of PC's. According to a 2013 study by Net Applications, roughly more than 90% of personal computers in the world use some instance of Windows. With the popularity of Windows 7 rising, and the subsequent arrivals of Windows 8 and the new Windows 10, questions are bound to come up with people asking which version of the popular operating system has been the best and which the worst. Chances are that, in regards to the latter, most fingers will point towards Vista. But is that bad reputation deserved or just the product of bad perception?

Release date
Windows 1.0
Windows 2.0
Windows 3.0
Windows 3.1
Windows 95
Windows 98
Windows Me
Windows XP
Windows Vista
Windows 7
Windows 8
Windows 8.1
Windows 10

To put things in perspective, let's look at the development history of previous Windows versions. Ever since its unceremonious release in 1985, Microsoft maintained a steady pace of releasing a new Windows environment/operating system almost every other year. However, for some reason, this changed with the release of Windows XP in 2001. Although Microsoft had intentions of releasing Vista in 2003, a lengthy and troubled development process cushioned perhaps by the overall customer satisfaction with XP, pushed the release of the new operating system into 2007, 6 whole years after its predecessor. This time frame and the continued growth of computer usage during those years, led to a higher than usual bonding between user and operating system. By the time Microsoft released whatever new system they had, it was expected that there would be some resistance and backlash against it, regardless of its qualities.

Other common criticism of Vista is its higher hardware requirements when compared to Windows XP. Most users who upgraded from the latter would complain about slow system performance, computer freezing, and whatnot. But this is mostly a silly and brainless complaint. Take in consideration that the system requirements of XP were established upon its release in 2001, whereas the Vista requirements were similarly established in 2007. The fact that some people were still using "old" computers with XP when Vista arrived probably made them think they could make the switch without having to make some hardware changes.

Windows XP
Windows Vista
233 MHz (300 MHz recommended)
800 MHz (1 GHz recommended)
64 MB (128 recommended)
1 GB (2 GB recommended)
Hard disk available
1.5 GB
15 GB

But after 6 years, major changes in hardware were abound, and it was expected that Microsoft developers would try to take advantage of them in their new operating system. Regardless of whether you installed Vista or not, having a PC with 256 MB of RAM in 2007, although workable within the scope of XP, would've been laughable by 2007 standards.

Windows Vista gadgets © Microsoft Corp.
Windows Vista gadgets © Microsoft Corp.

Hardware requirements aside, other criticisms I've heard of Vista were about its slow start-up and the bothersome User Account Control. Although both are valid criticisms, both features were easily fixable if you knew how to deal with them. The start-up could be boosted up by disabling most of the gadgets that Vista came with, while the User Account Control could be set to a desirable level in the Control Panel.

Another criticism had to do with compatibility issues of some software. However, this was also an expected issue, considering that in 2007, XP still allowed you to run applications that were 10 years old, and maybe more. But still, I don't think this would've been an issue that the casual user would've encountered on a regular basis.

To sum it up, I won't stand here and say that Vista is the best version of Windows. It's flawed, moreover when compared to excellent versions like Windows 7 and XP. But I do think that most of the harsh criticism against Vista is blind and unfounded. I had a laptop with Vista installed, and I never had any problem with it. Whenever someone asked me about Vista, I would recommend it, along with 2 GB of RAM for it to move smoothly.

But truth of the matter is, after six years of XP, Vista represented a major revamping of the system, both outside (interface) and inside (architecture). Flaws were expected, but so was the backlash. I still remember I had a hard time switching from 3.1 to 95 when I was in college, just because I wasn't familiar with it. I believe some of that backlash played a part in users disappointment with Vista, along with the lack of knowledge about system requirements and configuration. Plus, those that criticize Vista and its alleged failures, probably never laid a hand on Windows Me, which still remains as the "bottom of the barrel" in Windows systems for me. THAT is the true "black sheep" of the family.

Windows Vista Desktop © Microsoft Corp.
Windows Vista Desktop © Microsoft Corp.

Which Windows version do you consider the best?

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    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 4 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Okay, well, I'm screwed..there's no budget for any of that, at all. I can't afford a new OS, and I sure can't afford a new version of Office..that's a very pricey program...well over $200, last time I looked. We barely make ends meet; hubby is on disability, and I get minimal Social Security. We'd have to make $10K more a year just to hit the poverty level... :( We barely managed to get a mortgage modification to avoid becoming homeless...the Internet is the only entertainment we have; no money for going out and doing stuff...

    • Thief12 profile image

      Thief12 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Well, changing your OS doesn't necessarily wipe your hard drive. You can upgrade from one OS (XP) to another (Win 7) without losing your documents or having to reinstall all your software. Of course, that depends on the specific version of XP you have, and the specific version of Win 7 you want. Plus, backing up your documents and pictures is still recommended, in case something goes sideways during the upgrade.

      Also, backing up in XP doesn't make your data non-readable by Windows 7. They are both made by the same company, and they both use the same file system.

      If you are still using Office 2K, making an upgrade to a newer version of Office (like 2007 or 2010) is almost mandatory. That is if you don't want to use obsolete programs. I mean, Office 2K is 13 years old and is no longer supported nor widely used. Remember this is a business, and neither Microsoft nor any company want you to be using the same softwares forever; if that were the case, they would build cars and computers that last forever :-D But anyway, a move to a newer software isn't a bad move, and it'll keep you up to date.

      About your husband's computer, I doubt that having Windows 7 would have anything to do with him being unable to play online games. Online games, particularly on Facebook, are prepared to handle the newest softwares, so they shouldn't have a problem running on Windows 7 or 8, or even Vista. Freezing or lag might have more to do with Internet connection, computer hardware (memory or processor) or even his browser version (is he using Internet Explorer? what version?)

      The bottom line is that dragging an operating system that's 12 years old (like XP) or softwares that are 13 years old (Office 2K) is never a good idea. Computers and their software are ever-changing, and if we want them to work as smoothly as they are meant to, with the Internet and up and coming applications, we should try to keep them as up to date as possible. I've never been one to camp outside a store to buy the newest OS, but I'd say a move to at least Windows 7 would be beneficial. Good luck, and feel free to ask any other question!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 4 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Well, since I can't afford a new computer, I don't think I can change my OS, either. Doesn't that, in effect, wipe your hard drive, and you'd lose all your saved data files? I have gazillions of photos and written material that I don't want to lose; and also, even backing up onto an external drive, they're backed up using XP--so might not be readable by a newer OS. ???

      I also still use Office 2K, so that, too, might be an issue, as well as all my older programs, that again, I can't afford to replace...such as Print Shop 22; Adobe Photoshop 6, and so on.

      My husband's computer, which is just a bit newer than mine, came with Win 7, and he is not especially happy with it. It's not as intuitive, and has a bad habit of not being compatible with certain things he does online (mainly interactive games, such as the Face Book games of "Battle Pirates," and "War Commander.") He finds constant problems with freezing up and lag. Oh, and he used to work as a hardware-software configuration specialist, so he knows his way around the usual problems, so it's not "user error." That said, he's not a social media fanatic, and is always asking me, "How do you do.... " or "Where do I find..." ...and when I try to tell him, as often as not, the needed setting/icon or what have you, does not appear on HIS desktop or even online taskbar!

      I really do have a love/hate relationship with computers!

    • Thief12 profile image

      Thief12 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Yeah, I frequently stumble upon people, namely in the corporate and manufacturing environment, who have stuck with older Windows version only because of its compatibility with some obscure software they use for this or that. Sometimes programs designed in the late 90's or even late 80's.

    • Billie Kelpin profile image

      Billie Kelpin 4 years ago from Newport Beach

      Interesting discussion. My husband and I have been creating educational software since 1995. Because my husband programs in the business area, our software was confined to Windows based programs. What we're finding now is that all over our programs have to be redone for Windows 7 and 8 because our old software programmed for the older versions won't run on the new versions. I understand that some companies have to retain their XP and Vista computers so that software they purchased years ago but still find functional won't run on Windows 7 and 8 computers. Sometimes I feel as if the software people at Windows get a little more respect than they deserve. We criticize politicians and teachers for low performance, but sometimes, and I say this as a wife of a programmer, the engineers need to interface more with the consumer. When my husband designs our software, he makes huge inaccurate assumptions about the everyday user. He assumes people read user manuals and have the background he does in understanding operating systems. Luckily, I'm his "focus group" who keeps reminding him to design more INTUITIVE functioning programs!

    • Thief12 profile image

      Thief12 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      The changes in the Windows 8 interface are significant, so it might take some time for people to get used to.

    • profile image

      Kelly 4 years ago

      I have used xp,vista,7 and now I am experiencing new windows 8.According to me windows xp is the best for official uses and windows 7 is best for personal entertainment 8 is also good if we talk about graphics and visual effects but it's not so user friendly as windows 7.

    • Gil Silva profile image

      Gil Silva 5 years ago from Porto, Portugal

      First of all, nice hub.

      My favorite is windows 7 but the windows xp was amazing.