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XP all the better for Vista’s long gestation

December 31, 2007

Vista busy cursor Having a pop at Vista is very much in vogue, but XP had its own problems when it first came out. It was shunned for a year by gamers because they couldn’t get it to perform. All new versions of Windows (or indeed any OS) are wont to require something of a “settling in” period.

While Vista is not the first version of Windows to be criticised by early adopters and reviewers, it has though been a particular disappointment, especially in view of the long wait followed by all that “The WOW starts Now!” hype. Maybe also consumers are getting less tolerant, generally having higher expectations and less patience. To make matters worse, Microsoft have lost a little of the “automatic choice” sheen. Perhaps this is down to Apple’s advertising campaign, and the emergence of strong alternatives to common MS software, eg Firefox vs Internet Explorer.

Possibly the biggest reason, though, is that Vista’s tardiness in materialising has given XP plenty of time to mature and ripen into a tried and tested performer.

Back in the day, people were used to a new version of Windows coming out every 2 or 3 years. Of course each new version had its teething problems, but as no-one had had the opportunity to enjoy a well-rounded, mature OS they got used to living with the odd niggle and incompatibility. That has changed, now. Users had grown comfortable and cosy with good old dependable XP, which had long since had all its wrinkles smoothed out. When buggy, niggly, underperforming Vista appeared on the scene it didn’t so much make a splash as give everyone a cold bath.

What we can learn from this is that OS vendors probably rattle out new versions too frequently, in the normal course of events. They are more driven by sales than user needs. There is nothing wrong with creating a good OS like XP and deliberately giving it a good run so that it can be tweaked to perfection, allowing users to enjoy it at its best for a few years. And when it is pensioned off the replacement should be worthy of the hype, and have been in alpha, beta and if necessary gamma for long enough that it is genuinely “ready for use” when it hits the shelves.

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