Updated: May 3, 2010
This title may shock you. Are you high, Dedo, you may ask. Perhaps inebriated? No, I'm perfectly sober and sane. I'm just stating the most overlooked fact in computing history, that of Microsoft Windows Vista being the best release to ever have come out of Redmond forges. How come? Well, if you read this article, you will discover why.
Let's begin with some history about Vista. Vista was born around 2006, as the ultimate replacement for the super-popular Windows XP.
Windows XP had its problems, mainly in the initial and SP1 release. The biggest of its problem was the user base, closely followed by Internet Explorer married to ActiveX, the worst choice of browser technology ever. Vista promised to cure world hunger and get rid of spyware along the way. But then Windows XP SP2 came along and ruined it all.
However, the timing could not have been worse. Windows XP SP2 was, for all practical purposes, a new operating system and it made Windows XP look really, really good. The quantum leap that Vista could have delivered was not there, especially considering the downgrading of features while still in the Longhorn phase.
Then, the security card. Overplayed. With Internet Explorer still being the most frequently and most easily violated browser, any possible security advantages of the new operating system were simply lost in the sea of exploits and problems. And for the common user, it meant no difference. The big change was in Windows XP SP2, with the firewall turned on. And with the coming of age of new, efficient third-party security products, and most importantly, other browsers, the security issues became a nuisance rather than a threat, making everyone ask what Vista was really good for.
But security is just one tiny facet of the whole scheme. Vista had three major issues that made it fail so glamorously at the market. First, it was too bloated. In 2006, asking for one whole GB of RAM was audacious, four times more than XP wanted. Second, Vista was overplayed by zealous advertising, including compatibility claims with older hardware and marvelous performance promises on low-end notebooks, which the new operating system could not meet. Lastly, all sorts of third-party drivers were written badly, making Vista suck more than it officially should.
All combined, plus the spitshine of Windows XP SP2, plus the diminishing security threats, compared to the Cossack rampage of 2003-2004, plus the fanatical expectations, Vista was made to fail.
Service packs were released, remedying some of the issues, but it's the first impression that counts. People forever marked Vista as a failure. It was even compared to Windows ME, which is wrong. Windows ME was the last in DOS-era releases. Vista was the first in the post-classic-NT releases.
Microsoft has learned the lesson. When it came to launch Windows 7, they toned down the expectations. They had a quiet, modest, almost private launch. They made sure to make Windows 7 look like the cute underdog of the brutal computing world.
Windows 7 was released to public beta to make sure people could taste and feel the new release and get ready for it. Microsoft made sure the drivers were ready for the operating system before the release. Lastly, Microsoft made sure there were no revolutionary changes that would upset the common user.
And everyone bought it.
Which is why Windows Vista is the best release ever.
Here comes the punchline. What is Windows 7 really?
Windows 7 looks and feels like Vista. 99% of all parts are identical, both over and under the hood. The only difference is the name, really. So what Microsoft did was:
sed 's/Vista/Windows 7/g'
And that's it! They have a new operating system! And everyone has fallen in love with it.
Don't believe me, well here's a comparison:
The upper image is a screenshot taken in Vista. The lower image is Windows 7. Spot the difference. I bet you a florin that you can't. Because there is not any. It's just one image really. Because they are identical.
Seriously, there's literally no difference. Even the login screens are virtually the same:
Windows 7 is at best a service pack for Windows Vista. Sort of like SP2 for XP. This subtle fact has evaded everyone. But not me.
Windows 7 requirements are identical to Windows Vista. However, 1GB RAM and 15GB space was too much in 2006. In late 2009, it was okay. While I still can't understand why an operating system needs 15GB to install and ends with close to 7GB of hard disk space populated, most people don't really care.
What Microsoft did was freeze Vista and port it into future three years. This gave them ample time to iron out their issues. Meanwhile, the hardware problems and the system requirements slid down.
After three years, it all looks good. Everyone's in love with Windows 7. This only shows that it all comes down to perception. Technology is just a sideshow. For that matter, most people have no idea what an operating system is - and most believe it sits in their monitor or something, so it's all right.
Basically, the only two things that Windows 7 has that really matter are 64-bit support and DirectX whatever. With a little more polish to its 64-bit version and backporting of newer versions of DirectX, Windows XP would need no replacement for generations. And it is still the best overall Windows release available. Microsoft will have to murder it first. Forget Apple, forget Linux.
Windows 7 success so far means one thing: Windows Vista will remain embedded in the computing history as the best benign digital subterfuge act.
That would be all for today. You may disagree, but the plain fact is, Windows Vista was the softening blow that made everyone ready for Windows 7, an elaborate service pack for Microsoft's least liked and least popular release.
Taking into account all the little factors, like the three year drought, the ridicule that Vista suffered and then the high praise that lavished Windows 7, Vista has all the ingredients of the best operating system ever. It's a comeback that would surpass even the highly unlikely return of Elvis Presley from his home planet.
You'd better get used to the sickly baby-blue theme and blurred interface, because that's what you're going to be seeing for a long, long time. You have been assimilated into the Vista entity, and you never even noticed.