Over at ZDNet, I’ve written a counterpoint to the widely quoted and amusing but (IMO) inaccurate notion that Windows Vista is the reincarnation of Windows Me. I see Vista going down a different path, the same one trod earlier by Windows 95:
Vista isn’t Me2, it’s Win95 + 12 years
So does Windows Vista deserve the Me2 label? After a careful look back at my Windows history books, I see Vista heading down a different path. In fact, I’m struck by how similar Vista’s path so far has been to the one that Windows 95 traveled. Let’s review: Windows 95 was launched with tremendous expectations on a tsunami of hype. It was notoriously unstable and finicky, and for the first year or two there weren’t all that many 32–bit programs. A total of four OEM service releases (in 1996 and 1997) added some interesting new features (like FAT32) but didn’t deal with the significant underlying problems of the OS.
It wasn’t until three years after Windows 95’s launch, with Windows 98 (and Windows 98 Second Edition a year after that) that the stability, performance, and interface problems were finally dealt with.
The similarities with Windows Vista are striking:
The comments have been especially interesting.
One commenter over there wondered if I was really trying to say that Windows Vista sucks just like Windows 95, so everyone should wait for the next version.
No, that’s not what I’m saying at all.
I didn’t say Windows 95 sucked. I said it had problems (can we talk system resources, anyone?). On balance, it was quite usable, and anyone knowledgeable learned how to work around the problems. I think the same is true of Vista today.
In the case of Windows 95, the flawed OS was still better than its predecessor, Windows 3.1, for most people, so they accepted the problems and learned to deal with them. Windows 98 fixed a number of those problems and generally added a level of polish that the original didn’t have.
In the case of Vista, there’s a perfectly good alternative in Windows XP, which is why a lot of people will wait to upgrade. I regularly hear people say, “Hey, Windows XP is doing everything I want it to do, so why should I change?” There are good reasons why some people might choose to upgrade (especially on mobile systems) but there’s little penalty in waiting.
So Vista has some compelling advantages for some people today. For others, perhaps many others, its inconveniences and temporary incompatibilities outweigh the advantages.
Read the whole historical comparison here: Vista isn’t Me2, it’s Win95 + 12 years, and feel free to leave comments here or there.