Windows Vista is an operating system in the Windows family developed by Microsoft. Development was completed on 2006-11-08 and it was released to manufacturers who OEMed it, and it was published globally on 2006-11-08. The OS replaced Windows XP, and was itself replaced by Windows 7. The OS introduced several new features, most of which were only cosmetic, but several were awful, like DRM and UAC. Despite the fresh new look, the OS was poorly received and had many bugs and usability issues causing it to be thoroughly panned by users, and many remained on the aging XP platform. The adoption of the OS still exceeded Microsoft's projected sales, but they decided to extend the life of XP and hurried out the release of Windows 7 in only 2 years, which ended up being little more than a clean up of Vista's problems. When Windows 7 was released, 63% of the Internet was still using XP, with only 16% using Vista. Patching support for Vista was discontinued in 2012 and extended support ended in 2017.
I bought a new computer sometime prior to Windows 7's release (around 2008), and it came with Windows Vista. I had heard a lot about how awful the OS was pretty confident that I would format the hard drive and install an old copy of XP, but I decided that I may as well bite the bullet and try to get used to it. There were a handful of features that I liked, but ultimately I found the OS to be obnoxiously bloated and slow. Most of the time while I was using it, I kept encountering roadblocks and slowdowns and I spent a good deal of time on the Internet trying to figure out how to turn off "features" to get it to run at a decent speed. The OS certainly earned all its derision, and I was happy to be rid of it for my next PC, although Windows 7 wasn't that much better.
These are some of the features of Windows Vista that I find noteworthy (though not necessarily useful).
- Aero theme - The new default UI makes heavy use of transparency and, because of that, must render even hidden windows. I always turn it off in favor of the much faster and more attractive Classic theme.
- User Account Control - The annoying popup messages that occur every time you try to do anything. Microsoft's claim is that this annoyance adds security, but I always turn this off as much as possible and never get any malware.
- Internet Explorer 7 - Slow and lots of security holes. I prefer Firefox.
- Windows Media Player 11 - Bloated, slow, and very little format support. At the time, I used a combination MPlayer and Winamp, but now I suggest VLC Media Player and foobar2000.
- Windows sidebar - A pane on the desktop displays various "gadgets" (i.e., useless flashy programs that waste desktop real-estate and slow your PC down). I don't use them and remove the sidebar entirely.
- Taskbar pinning - I much prefer the quick launch toolbar over the pinning system, so I turn off pinning and remake the toolbar.
- File explorer panes - Vista introduced more panes to file explorer, essentially one for the top, bottom, left, and right. I shrink these down as much as possible, but, annoyingly, most of them can no longer be removed entirely.
- Remade games - The built-in games are much more attractive and include: Solitaire, Hearts, Spider Solitaire, Mahjong Titans, and Chess Titans.
- Remade screensavers - Although most screensavers have been removed, those that remain have been revamped.
- Volume Mixer - Volume now shows an application-specific mixer which is a lovely feature.
- Extensionless rename - One of the few features of Vista I like. When you rename a file with show extensions turned on, it only highlights the file name, not the extension.