What We Can Learn From The Failure Of Windows Vista

What We Can Learn From The Failure Of Windows Vista

When we look back at the history of Microsoft, as with many other large businesses, there are moments you can see where the company clearly got things wrong. Apple’s collapse, before the return of Steve Jobs was precipitated by the battle fought between the rival Lisa and Mac camps. And in Redmond, Windows Vista was a turning point.

Hackernoon, worked at Microsoft during the development and release of Vista on the Office team. His observations of what was happening inside and outside Microsoft and how those things affected the development of Windows Vista are fascinating.

For example, there’s Microsoft’s misstep in assuming processor architectures were going to continue along the single-core trajectory even though it was clear the amount of heat single-core systems would produce was not feasible. And there’s the constantly shifting timelines that meant hardware makers didn’t have drivers ready when Vista shipped because of an new driver model.

There were also significant failures in how the Vista and other projects were managed at the time.

The full article is well worth a read. I’d suggest anyone involved in project management gives it serious consideration.

It’s clear to me that a thorough application of some techniques such as a SWOT analysis might have been helpful. But, as the saying goes, “a fish rots from the head” and I suspect many of the issues come from the company’s leadership at the time.


  • Hey @kikadik – there’s plenty of examples in this article for the pedantic types. I could have a field day!!!

  • As the saying goes, “a fish its from the head”

    I’m pretty sure that’s not how it goes.

  • There was also a lot going on in the period between XP and Vista, during what one of the commenters referred to as the “security stand-down”. Staff were bruised by the internal performance rating systems, there was a lot of churn of people coming and going as a result of the tech crash and thousands of start-ups going bust. Google and Amazon were hiring key staff away from Microsoft.
    At a higher level, the power shift between Alchin and Sinofsky, Gates’ withdrawal from day to day affairs, leaving Ballmer who was basically an out-of-his-depth salesman. All of these contributed to a sense of malaise that undercut any good planning or technical execution.

  • From a consumer perspective it’s worth remembering that XP had an extended lifespan that went well beyond the other Windows releases up to that point – simply because Longhorn turned into a mess. Vista was going to be a massive pain in the arse for everybody – I really don’t think from an end-user perspective it would have mattered if it cooked for longer or not.

    I remember a similar thing back when WinXP came out and people who stayed with the 9x kernel (which were a lot, particularly gamers) were forced onto NT. It wasn’t a smooth transition and WinXP was hated for a while after its initial release.

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