End of an Era: Say Goodbye to Microsoft Windows Vista

Tuesday is the day that Microsoft officially says so long to Windows Vista by ending support for the PC operating system.

For those who remember way back when, Vista was supposed to be the next great version of the Windows operating system. It didn’t turn out that way.

Instead, Vista—various versions of which debuted in late 2006 and early 2007 after a long delay—turned out to be a giant headache for Microsoft (MSFT) and its customers.

Users complained about how slow it was to load and that “Vista-capable” PCs—computers that were supposed to be able to run the operating system—really couldn’t run it very well. Even new PCs allegedly built to run the OS didn’t run it very well.

As the buyer of a then-brand new HP (HPQ) Pavilion laptop with Vista pre-installed, I can attest to that. Consumers and even business customers balked at upgrading to Vista, which stressed Microsoft’s already tense relationships with many PC makers that need to sell more computers to customers who typically see a major operating system upgrade as a reason to buy new hardware.

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Vista was supposed to bolster security with a new feature called User Account Control (UAC), which aimed to keep users from loading drivers or other software of questionable origin. But UAC had an annoying habit of asking users—way too often—if they were “sure” they wanted to do this download. People got so frustrated with the never-ending prompts that they just hit “yes.” Every single time. That defeated the purpose of UAC. Even Microsoft insiders at the time admitted this was a mistake.

Another issue was that Windows XP—the previous version of Windows—worked well, so many users decided to stick with it way beyond its expiration date. Some of the features promised for Vista ended up being “pulled forward” into Windows XP.

Windows Vista delays and disappointing quality opened the door for Apple (AAPL) to gain market share—no doubt aided by the Apple’s popular “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ads, starring John Hodgman and Justin Long.

Microsoft started moving beyond the Vista era in 2009 with the release of Windows 7, which caused a near-immediate spike in PC sales.

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