Happy Birthday Vista! Here's Why You Sucked

Our big boy Windows Vista is turning six today, and like any proud, overbearing and slightly embarrassing parent, we want to give a little speech. Only, in this case, we want to remind you just why Vista was a godforsaken OS with more design flaws than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Happy Birthday, buddy.

RAM-hogging Aero Interface

Vista’s biggest change, for most people, was the supposedly-sexy new Aero interface. It was meant to add a touch of 21st-century 3D desktop magic, but it ended up sucking the life-blood out of your computer’s hardware. This wasn’t helped by Microsoft lowering its ‘minimum’ hardware standards to help manufacturers; this left Vista running on cheapo laptops at the pace of an arthritic snail. In fact, a fair few computers were actually slower on Vista than on XP -- that’s not how an upgrade’s meant to work.

Jarring User Interface

This leads nicely into Vista’s next failing. For a supposedly new OS, it relied far too much on XP-era interfaces for anything slightly complicated. Once you delved past the nannying questions into something like Device Manager, it was straight back to XP-style window. Truth be told, Vista’s UI reminds me somewhat of manufacturer skins on Android — sure, they look nice, but often they slow down a perfectly good OS, and dig too far and you land back in the old UI.

Media Centre

The User Interface problem wasn’t helped by Media Centre. The idea was Media Centre gave a hub for all your media files, and also a control for TV tuners. That’s all well and good, but the overwhelming majority of people never connected their laptops to a big screen, or used a TV tuner. Nonetheless, Windows (in Premium and Ultimate editions, at least) slapped everyone with Media Centre. It sucked as a ‘Media Centre’ for a laptop because it yanked you out of the desktop and into an irritating, slow, buggy interface that was basically just a souped-up skin for Windows Media Player. Fine, so anyone with common sense installed VLC and didn’t look back, but for far too many helpless victims, Vista meant a really terrible media experience.

Driver Support

With any big release, driver support is always going to be an issue; with Vista, Microsoft ballsed it up even more by failing to get key players like NVIDIA to provide stable drivers at launch. Sure, not being able to plug your webcam in is annoying, but having no driver for your graphics card is a real buzzkill.

User Account Control

One of the big things Vista integrated was User Account Control, which required users to click “OK” on a pop-up pretty much any time they did anything. It was meant to get in your face and force you to second-guess decisions — even Microsoft were quoted as saying “the reason we put UAC into the platform was to annoy users“. It went way too far, though, since the crazy stupid number of pop-ups meant that if you wanted to get anything done, you just mashed “OK” on anything that popped up, leading to situations like this: “Want to install this program?” “Yes, of course I do you dumb machine, that’s why I clicked run” “Want to install this dodgy virus that’ll steal your identity and first-born child?” “ANYTHING, JUST GET RID OF THE FREAKING POP-UP!” Needless to say, Microsoft’s cunning security feature wasn’t exactly a big hit with users.

The Forced-Upgrade Saga

Initially, Microsoft was very eager to get the whole world and their doggies running Vista, so they stopped sale of XP. Considering that Vista was a buggy piece of crap, this upset many intelligent folk who wanted the comforting stability and security of XP. Eventually, Microsoft relented, but not until they’d pissed off a small horde of customers.

Crappy Games Performance

For whatever reason, Microsoft’s shiny new OS was generally a little bit worse at running games than XP, an OS six years older than it. That’s inexcusable. One of the awesome things about Windows 8 is that almost everything runs faster, giving you a solid reason to upgrade to it. Vista was pretty much the complete opposite to this.

Options Hidden Under Layers of Crap

For some reason, Microsoft felt the need to take things that had worked perfectly well before — like “add or remove programs” — and turn them into badly named, lopsided and just plain worse features like “uninstall or change a program or feature”. Not only that, but Microsoft also buried useful stuff in patronisingly-named holes under miles of crap, like the goddamn “Network and Sharing Centre”, which sounds more like a hippie meditation retreat than somewhere you go to sort out your Wi-Fi.

It Should’ve Been Windows 7

Ultimately, Microsoft jumped the gun with Vista. They were so keen to get out an update to a perfectly good operating system that they put out a half-arsed, buggy beta release of 7, that just happened to be called Vista and cost you real money. XP wasn’t desperately broken in 2007; if Microsoft had held on for another year or two and skipped Vista altogether, they would’ve saved themselves a lot of face, and the rest of the world a whole tonne of dough.

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    Vista was fine, never had any issues with it that I didn't have with XP or Mac OS

      Agreed! I never had a huge problem with Vista.

        i have a computer with vista on it. It's the most troublesome computer in our house and has some very frustrating features. Having said that though, there isnt too much incentive to upgrade, since it still works for the tasks that it needs to.

      I'm sill using Vista but I:
      - turned off Aero
      - don't use media centre
      - had to buy a new printer when I first upgraded
      - turned off UAC
      - don't use it to play games

      I easily prefer Vista to Windows 8.

        VIsta is better than Win7 but Win8 trumps them both (and XP) without breaking a sweat.

        I don't know how, 8 is about 5x faster then 7, and Vista is slower then XP, so I have no idea what you're thinking.

      Yep, I reckon Vista is better than Win7, which carries over almost all of the criticisms levelled here. UAC might have been a PITA with it's default setting but given that something like 80% of successful malware attacks trick the user into installing it, it's probably something most users should have put up with for their own sakes. Anyone that knew what they were doing turned it down a notch and got on with their lives.

      Drivers were an issue for a few months but after that it was perfectly fine. I never had any stability issues or bugs.

      The only machine I ever had with Media Centre was my Dell M1330, running XP, and it was kinda great because you could use it without booting Windows, which made the battery last a lot longer. OTOH, I don't like VLC at all (it's ugly).

      As for "jarring user interface", I think they must be confusing Vista with Win8 because my Vista install had a completely consistent UI from top to bottom. Every window had the same borders and stuff and all the dialogue boxes were the same. And if you didn't like Aero, you always had the option of turning it off or going back to the "Classic" look.

    Definitely the drivers were the big one for me and second on the list was UAC (with the additional nanny state false security stuff that hid everything from you and made like generally miserable)...

    What frustrated me the most about the drivers thing is that just about everything worked great during the beta/public test builds.. but the day 1 launch, everything was broken.. like everything. I am SOOOO happy I decided to setup dual-boot with WinXP when I got Vista.. I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't.. there was so much stuff, which I used daily, that simply didn't work for months after release.

    No wonder Win7 came out so fast after it..

    Additionally.. I actually built the PC specifically for Vista.. everything I had was "certified" for Vista only a couple of months prior to release.. yet when it dropped.. it didn't work.

    Last edited 31/01/13 3:14 pm

    I really wish Longhorn was released instead, I really enjoyed the early Alpha builds, really good ideas. Then, they couldn't get it gel, so they cut and run, made Vista in half the time it took to do Windows 7, so really for a rushed job Vista was pretty well done I think.

      Longhorn was released, essentially. "Longhorn" was simply the pre-release internal Microsoft codename for Windows Vista. It wasn't a different operating system.

        I know.... I mentioned in my post that I used it.....

        They scrapped almost everything from Longhorn and built up Vista, they are not the same. The same project yes, but completely and utterly different products.

    vista was terrible worst $165 i ever spent on the ultimate edition nothing worked correctly.
    no drivers, how am i suppose to play battlefield with no nvidia drivers and even after they got drivers so many games and programs didnt work correctly or at all.
    i went back to xp until windows 7 beta became available

      Why did you bother to upgrade at all if XP was working for you? Win8 is the first and only time I have ever bought a Windows upgrade because it is such a significant improvement over Win7. Prior to that, though, I only got a new OS when I got a new PC.

    I used Vista as my media centre (dual tuner via an xbox in the lounge room) for years without any problems. Never had a driver problem. The biggest issue for me was the annoying UAC prompts but then again, how often do you install software!

    My impression of the problems with Vista were mainly 1) base specs needed to be higher as lots of the low spec'd laptops had issues, and 2) 3rd parties were slow at delivering drivers for their devices.

    "RAM-hogging Aero Interface" - Simple, change it to classic mode, and it looks just like 2000 and infinity times better than XP's fisher-price monstrosity.

    "Jarring User Interface" - Doesn't "not broke, don't fix it" come to mind? It got updated to the Vista aesthetics, what else needed to happen?

    "Media Centre" - Slow and buggy? Not in my experience.

    "Driver Support" - That's nice, for early adopters, Perhaps a couple of years on this was fixed?

    "User Account Control" - Oh noes, the operating system is asking for an admin password when I want to do admin stuff on a standard account!!!!!!1111!!!!!11

    What's even better is that at least 4 of the "reasons" apply to teh awsumest!!! Win 7 as well.

    The new control panel in Vista was a pain. Windows 8 is sooo optimised, I'm impressed.
    OSX10.7 is sooo like Vista, even those tiled windows in their changed expose remind me of Vista every time. I bought a base model OSX10.7 iMac and sometimes I have to wait a full 15 minutes to get responsiveness (no joke, timed) after opening Mail, Safari, iTunes and then opening iPhoto. Me thinks I need to buy RAM to get a usable computer out of this expensive piece of junk.

      Are you kidding me? Expose was available in OSX10.3 Panther (which came out in 2003). Vista was a blatant rip-off of OSX in terms of multi-window management.

      And perhaps your Mac is taking 15 mins because your iPhoto library is massive? either ways Mountain Lion has performance upgrades anyway. And RAM isn't expensive (i spent $50 to get 16 gigs on my MBP) so that should hardly be the criteria for judging a computer's speed.

        Read that again - he's referring to the CHANGES they made to expose. Expose WAS awesome and windows didn't have anything directly equivalent (though Alt-Tab is similar). Now it's completely crap because they ripped off the cascading tiles effect from windows, which is not an easy way to search for windows.

        OSX 10.7 is a complete dog, and should get way more flack than it does. It's slow, buggy, ruined great features, added a bunch of intrusive ones so it was more like iOS. I could rant about it all day. I think its as bad as Vista, which I rate as the worst operating system ever.

        Actually, while we're on vista - all those people saying its better than 7 - have you ever tried to connect a network in Vista? Worst god damn system ever. And so flakey. The gf machine still flakes out all the time with out home wifi.

          Exactly my thoughts.
          On top of that hardware Apple sold me an expensive computer that
          1) Doesn't have enough RAM for the OS
          2) Comes with a slow 5k hard drive that exacerbates the problem
          Do you wonder why they put Fusion drives in Macs? It's to make up for the bloated OS.
          And yeah 100% with you on Vista networking, that's my main beef with the Vista control panel.

          Last edited 01/02/13 10:20 am

          I have always used the Intel software with my wi-fi, simply because it was the thing that came up by default with my earlier XP laptops. It worked fine but I'll take your word for it that VIsta was worse because networking was always worse before than it is now. Getting an XP machine onto wi-fi almost required a miracle, no matter what UI you were using.

          Back to the OS X things, OS X needs something like Expose because it's window managment is completely and utterly f@#ked. It is a complete nightmare compared to any other OS. OTOH, those same expose-like features in Windows are things I can honestly say I have never used because I just don't need them, thanks to WIndows' excellent window management. In fact, the most disappoitning thing about Win8 is they have taken away the cool 3D WIN+Tab app switcher, although they have improved the visual cues in Alt+Tab so it's not all bad.

      Is it on a network? I find that MacOS nosedives significantly when it is networked. They make decent standalone computers but as soon as you hook them up, they are stuffed.

    Vista was okay by the time SP3 was installed.

    Windows 7 was just Vista SP4 and should have been given free of charge to Vista users as compensation for what they went through in the first year after Vista was released.


      If W7 had been free, or very low price, to Vista users, I would have stayed with Windows. Vista was awful, so bad that it should never have been released. Thanks to Vista, I left MS/Windows and went elsewhere.

    I love how people complain about stuff hogging RAM. Any RAM thats free and unused is effectively a waste. I'd much rather the OS use all the RAM it has before it starts using the disk.

    As an aside... I had Windows Me on an HP laptop for several years during the pre-XP era and had no problems whatsoever running games and general applications. I think WinMe's reputation is a little unfair too.

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