Windows Vista and Office 2007: What a difference a year makes

Windows Vista and Office 2007: What a difference a year makes

Summary: One year ago today, on November 30, Microsoft held its business launch of Windows Vista and Office 2007 in New York City. The past 365 days have gone quite differently from what many Microsoft insiders and outsiders expected.


One year ago today, on November 30, Microsoft held its business launch of Windows Vista and Office 2007 in New York City.

Windows Vista and Office 2007: What a difference a year makesAt the kick-off, PC makers, resellers and independent software vendors were upbeat. Many customers were curious to see the operating system it took Microsoft five years to develop, and the new Office suite that sported an entirely new interface.

However, things didn't go as smoothly for Microsoft, at least on the Windows side of the house, as many inside and outside the company expected. When I was compiling my list of "Top 10 Microsoft Announcements in 2007," I was struck by how much of what Microsoft did (and didn't) do in 2007 involved Vista in some way.

As of today, Microsoft has sold more than 88 million copies of Vista and some still-secret number of copies of Office 2007. But the company still has a heck of a lot of convincing to do to get businesses to deploy -- or even to start to think about deploying -- Windows Vista.

A year after the business launch, Microsoft officials are saying that they want users to give Vista another chance and look at where the product is now, in terms of driver and application compatibility; reliability; and performance. Their contention (though no one will state it this bluntly, of course): Vista today is the product that Vista should have been a year ago upon release.

Going into 2008, is there anything you think Microsoft could do to convince the doubters out there that Vista is a worthy upgrade? A price cut? A Windows-Genuine-free version of the product (like the WGA-free Internet Explorer 7 Microsoft recently fielded)? A "Better Together" campaign that demonstrates how Windows Live services can make Vista a better product?

(Tyler's First Birthday Cake. Image by  cdharrison. CC 2.0)

Topics: Operating Systems, Microsoft, Software, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Yes it is very solid now

    I agree with the Microsoft, people should try it out now. My biggest problems with Vista were some minor to medium performance and reliability problems and an occassional video problem that made me reboot. But after running the updates MS pushed out and updating all my drivers, I can say I am running very smooth and everything is alot quicker now. I am even running it on a laptop that is fairly new but not Vista Capable so to say. Say what you will, but until you try it you have no grounds to speak. Oh and haven't had many security updates, I think maybe 10-20 this year, alot less than Apple by far.
    • Maybe for the home user, ...

      ... but not for the business user.

      With the Vista boxes I have running on my bench, and not in the production environment of any of my clients, I am STILL experiencing issues with running some important, line of business applications.

      Maybe SP1 will fix it, we'll see.
      • I have a crisp new dollar bill....

        ... that says SP1 will introduce new problems into Vista. Maybe even more than it is supposed to fix.

        SP1 or no SP1, I'm not touching it either way.
        Hallowed are the Ori
      • Have you tried....i'm always curious.

        running those lob applications in XP compatibility mode? <br>
        i'm running a few things in xp compat mode on my home pc and other than that, I for one, can tell you Vista rips it up. I know a certain some will mock me at that but i am running 64 bit version, and yes on a very capable machine. My PC is all of what a Mac needs to run Leopard and more, for less money. <br>
        The idea of slowness with Vista is a mystery to me. It absolutely flies and puts my XP box to shame. <br>
        I have an older desktop machine running win server 2003 and am running on a little AD domain. There is no situation between the Vista box and the server or XP box, that I could not easily take care of and I'm having fun learning the new GP settings on Vista. VS 2008 is great too. I think this is going to be an absolutely killer platform in the years to come. Too bad so many have built up such a bad name for it. <br>
        I didn't see a similar campaign mounted against Leopard or any other OS for that matter. I know many people loathe Microsoft but in the process they are hurting those of us windows professionals who are enjoying the environment and helping people find great solutions. I've done numerous cost evaluations for sites on moving from windows to Linux and even MacOSX in one case, and in every case they wanted to stay with windows. I did each RFP in an absolute professional manner, with most quotes coming from other contractors i would have subbed.
        Now please be honest on this site in the future. Let's all work together on each OS and try to answer each other's questions and problems no matter the OS and quit the stupid childish wars. From the outside, this site looks like a group of junior high kids fighting over which bands rock the hardest or whatever. Come on.
        April May
        • Thank you for the suggestion. April May.

          Yes, I have tried compatibility mode, and have experienced problems with some apps needing to run with greater rights than "Power User" under XP and not being allowed to do that under Vista. I have not abandoned the idea, but it is obvious that it is going some more research, some more testing and some more fiddling; [i]something [b]I[/b] should not have to do and which [b]I[/b] really don't have time to do[/i].

          And that brings up another point. I am envious of your ability to have "fun learning the new GP settings on Vista." I wish I had the time to do that.

          What I need, however, is a system I can put in place and not HAVE to fiddle with.

          My experience, in the last few years, has been just the opposite of yours: the only time the folks I have returned RFPs to have stayed with Windows were those who had one, business critical app which absolutely would NOT run on Linux. All the others have happily switched to OSS.
        • Good Points

          I, too, loathe childish unhelpful irrelevant negative posts (some appear to be invented accusations) that are a waste of time to read.

          I, too, long for helpful, informative, useful posts by mature thinking posters.

          Computers are the only thing I know, and I've worked with several OS's through the years and while each are different, I have always accepted that it is was it is. A Ford is a Ford and a BMW is a BMW.
      • Not for the home user


        IE7 crashes
        Unaccountable file security changes
        Network can get at vista from XP but not xp m/c from vista.

        Bad performance
        Slow startup
        Freezing on shutdown
        Won't restart display on some combination of power saving and hibernate.

        What a great year, Microsoft!
        • Your System?

          Is someone sabataging your system? I have my old XP networked with Vista and they communicate fine both ways and with the NAS. Neither has BSOD. IE7 runs flawlessly on both machines. I have never encountered unaccountable file security changes.

          The next three are subjective complaints, and I don't know about the last problem since I don't hibernate XP.

          But I prefer to use the Vista machine and use the XP machine for mail and web lookups.
    • Why should I try it?

      Why should I try it. XP is working fine for me right now? What does Vista do that XP can't? Give me a reason for fork out he dough, right now I don't see one.
      • You have not looked very hard then sir.

        Vista has much to offer over XP and this will be seen soon enough as the apps for Vista start to mount. <br>
        It takes only a few moments to see why an upgrade is a good investment but every business decision is up to you or whoever is making it. XP is fine. I have found Vista to outperform it however and that is just for starters. <br>
        As a development platform, especially now with vs 2008, Vista is a developers dream IMHO. <br>
        I guess you would ask the same question about any OS upgrade. Gutsy gibbons is not w/o problems and those I know doing Linux sites are the first to tell me that Vista is truely getting an unworthy name. They are not zealots and I've worked with them a lot. <br>
        Leopard is surely not without it's share of problems as well. There is more wrong with Leopard than just what is being reported as well. This site and most sites are so slanted against Microsoft along with their readership it is amazing. It's like a second reality that is not true outside of it. It is so funny out in the fresh air talking to other professionals about sites like this and what is going on. We all agree Microsoft needs to competition and a reason to get the company firing on all cylinders again in a bad way. There is no illusions about that either. It will all be good in the end. <br>
        April May
        • Sounds like a "no" to me

          The guy asks for a single reason why to upgrade, and you didn't give one. I had a beta/Rc1 (thrown away), and Vista home Premium (given away). I'll stick with XP and on other hardware Ubuntu.

          In work we make a low volume USB product. It will never work well
          with Vista. Microsoft now wants big $$$ for developers to get drivers and programs certified. There isn't a way in Vista to say "ok don't warn me about this program again", you can turn all warnings off or all warnings on.

          Basically it isn't financially viable for us to pay the large $$$ to microsoft, so this is one app/device that will never work well with Vista. An we are one of hundreds of thousands of similar developers.

          This removes a lot of apps and hardware from the vista pool, so Vista will never be as useful as XP has been. Small to Medium Enterprises are the engine of the economy. Vista is incompatible with products from Small to medium enterprises.
        • Unless the upgrade adds to the bottom...

          line, it's not smart.

          Increasing the efficiency in resource usage and thus the bottom line is the ONLY reason to make a business decision. Upgrading to Vista simply can't do that for most businesses. It's not even a matter of a good or bad OS.
        • Anomalous experimental result

          "I have found Vista to outperform it [XP] however and that is just for starters."

          Could conduct a few Cold Fusion experiments for me, please?

      • Vista Reasons?

        Through the months a few technical bloggers/columnists enumerated several under-the-hood architectural improvements in Vista over XP. Memory management, graphics management, and user account changes come to mind. They mentioned many more but I haven't seen anyone repeat those lately so I've forgotten just what they are.
  • Vista first release lousy? Not surprising, but lousy Leopard? yes

    In fairness to Microsoft, while it is *the* company, it is not the only company where people adopt a "don't touch" attitude until it is at least one year after the launch date. We all expected that.

    What is surprising is, Mac OS X Leopard is having the same type of problems!

    Part of Vista problem, currently also faced by Leopard adopters, is that there is a change in the way things are organized. That make transition to Vista/Leopard more unappetizing.
  • New System Yes, Same System Upgrade No

    I've been using Vista since its beta days. I can honestly say that the existing systems I had, although all dual core 64 bit AMDs, upgrading to Vista just caused me a lot of grief with compatibility issues. Although Vista is much better than XP in my opinion and I wouldn't go back for my primary system, I would only recommend Vista for people that are buying a new system that is designed for it and has the horse power required for the visual components that make Vista that much nicer to use than XP.

    I don't think Microsoft can do anything but let things run its due course. Just like each of their major shifts in their OS'es in the past, this one needs time to mature. Windows 2000 Professional was crap in comparison to XP Professional and I only stuck with 2000 a short time. Unfortunate to say but by the time the next Windows comes out, if its not radically different under the covers from Vista, it will most likely be the next "XP" hit for Microsoft only because software and hardware vendors will have caught up with the Vista changes.

    Bottomline, if you're replacing hardware, go Vista, if you're just upgrading existing hardware stick with XP. Your users will thank you for it. Oh and from my experience, DON'T EVEN THINK of getting a Vista machine with less than 2 GB of RAM unless you want your system to be slow.
    • hardware is key

      This is the key, hardware. Compatibility, reliability, stability, etc. is soooooo much better now, its definitely worth getting. The main obstacle now is hardware. Vista just requires more hardware resources. I only bought it for my homeoffice when I fried my mobo on the XP system. Its better looking and more fun w/ MC, though fun's not exactly a selling point for buisnesses. We lease systems and I'm guessing that most other buisnesses do too. So now that Vista's more reliable, if MS makes it relatively affordable, businesses will probably adopt Vista as they go through the leasing cycle. MS should just make adoption as easy as possible, price, training, support; I think that VistaBusiness has a lot of additional functionality in areas of mobile computing and security that most buisnesses will find valuable. It comes down to hardware and transition costs.
      Sonny Maou
    • Don't think Win2k was crap

      Having used Win2K from the time it was release till 2006 where I got XP Pro I find little difference. I do like the fast user switching in some ways but hate in others. For me it's great when I'm working on something and the wife wants to use the PC. I just switch users and she does her thing. At the same time my wife sometimes lets her apps run for days which often cause issues with my games.

      Now having only played with Vista in a corporate environment, testing mostly I don't see any reason to upgrade to Vista at home. I will eventually but I suspect it will be similiar to how I upgraded to XP. Just as soon as driver support ends for Video cards on XP I'll be pushed upgrade to Vista. I suspect this will happen in 2009 or 2010.
      • You're not an early adopter. I get that... Here are some reasons though.

        Some reasons an early adopter would go to Vista:
        Windows Complete Backup and Restore
        Instant Search
        Shadow Copy
        Windows Mobility Center
        Look these things up. If there is an advantage to you that is worth the cost then go for it. Not everyone needs to be an early adopter. It's been out for a year now and there is nothing to fear. What I tell my business customers is that if your Line of Business application will run on Vista then get it as you buy new computers. There is no reason not to. If you have a 3 year old computer, I really don't recommend the upgrade buy a new PC with it preloaded when it make sense for you.
        • There are still some business

          critical apps like vpn that have not released software for Vista. One of our vice presidents found that out when he purchased a new laptop. We had to downgrade his system to XP so that he could access the network from home.

          Has anyone tried running Sql server 2005 with Vista? I'm curious to know if there have been any problems with it or Sharepoint.