I found an article about Windows 7 that explains a little bit about what went wrong with Windows Vista, and what Micro$oft doing differently with Windows 7, while trying to maximize their damage control.
To me, there were three big mistakes with Vista :
Looking at the comparison chart for the different flavors of Vista reminds me of a chinese food menu. Fortunate for Micro$oft, and unfortunate for me, when Vista first came out, I looked at the charts real quick and said to myself, “Great, so Ultimate has everything? Yeah, I’ll get that”. I’m sure that many techies did the exact same thing, to the tune of $400. Not to mention we also had to pay more for the full install version, because no techie wants to deal with the hassels of installing with the upgrade version.
Once Vista came out, it was immediately clear why we waited so long for it to come out. It’s because it wasn’t a finished product. It was painfully slow, buggy, and it looked different. Personally, I see nothing wrong with updating the UI’s appearance, but I hate it when the UI changes so drastically. From looking at Office 2007, and Windows 7 beta, it doesn’t look like Micro$oft has learned that lesson yet. If casual users need to learn a new User Interface, think about this now, what is stopping them from swapping over to a Mac. After the Vista fiasco Apple has more credibility, and an image that is much more ’2009′ than Micro$ofts. Regardless of whether they buy a Mac of a PC, User Interface is isn’t going to be any more or less “Completely Different” to them.
The concept worked well for Micro$oft with the Xbox, and for Apple with the Iphone. Over hype the product and limit its availiability. It seems that the strategy only works if the manufacturer does it intentionally, and when the product doesn’t suck. Each time that Micro$oft pushed back the the launch by a few months, they were forced to compensate by injecting more hype into the media, rinse and repeate. By the time it came out, even these guys had heard about it. From what I hear, they are still running Windows 2000 because they too are afraid to upgrade.
On the lighter side, I was particularly moved by this excerpt from the aforementioned article.
By studying Vista, Microsoft learned that often when a program wouldn’t install in Vista, it was because the application’s designers had hard-coded the program to work with only a certain version of the operating system. That’s why Microsoft decided to make Windows 7 officially version 6.1 rather than 7.0.
To me, what I am reading here tells me that one of the BIGGEST failures of Windows Vista…. get this… wasn’t completely Micro$ofts fault. Now, granted Vista was a major revision of the operating system, but it is still built on roughly the same NT Architecture as XP. Application developers inserted code in their programs to prevent it from being installed on versions of Windows other than XP. This isn’t a huge problem, but unfortunately the developers wrote this code in such a way that there is no way to release a patch, or any other quick fix. Bottom line is that the software needs to be modified by the developer, even though it will probably run just fine if you can get it to install by tricking it into thinking the machine is version 5.1.
Granted this story doesn’t account for all of the problems, and by no means is Micro$oft off the hook, but variables are called variables because thats what they do. They vary.