Joe Wilcox from Microsoft Watch wrote a relatively long article trying to explain the negative public opinion on Vista. Basically, he thinks it has something to do with marketing failures. However, I think he didn't mention the real reason why Vista bashing has become so popular. Joe Wilcox's theory is that Microsoft made the mistake of giving free Vista notebooks to some influential bloggers. Some believed that Microsoft tried to bribe those bloggers and that's where the ball had started rolling.

Michael Pietroforte

Michael Pietroforte is the founder and editor in chief of 4sysops. He has more than 35 years of experience in IT management and system administration.

More and more bloggers and journalists started bashing Vista. Vista slapping became "chic" as Wilcox expressed it. People enjoy reading negative articles about Microsoft anyway. So for many Microsoft's problems with Vista are like Christmas and Easter together.

There is certainly some truth in this assessment. I have read many of those negative articles about Vista. The reviews were often unfair, especially those in the traditional media which are obviously from journalists who don't have much practical experience with IT management. In many cases, Vista's new features regarding deployment and management were not even mentioned. Often they blamed Microsoft where they should have complained about the sluggishness of third party software and hardware vendors.

However, I don't think that this is the real reason for the negative media coverage. In my view, Vista got this negative image much earlier. It started when Microsoft had to cut important features. At this time, Microsoft's critical journalists already started bashing Vista. And thus the negative image was born and Microsoft had no real chance to correct it. The press and bloggers alike realized that Vista bashing brings much traffic simply because many would like to hear Microsoft fail.

But the most interesting question is, why did Microsoft actually cut those interesting features? Many think it was just because they overestimated themselves. I think, this is not the case. The real reason is that there was a fundamental shift in Microsoft's strategy. I am talking about security. Microsoft delayed Vista because of Service Pack 2 for Windows XP which was mostly about security. This move was necessary because of the numerous malware attacks at this time.

This probably also affected their strategy with Vista. Microsoft cut all those great features because they wanted to concentrate on security. And there is no doubt about it that Microsoft succeeded in this field. But nobody really wants to write that because success stories about Microsoft don't sell. Those journalists who were bashing Microsoft because of their bad attitude towards security are now complaining because of the lack of new features.

Apple, on the other hand, gets lots of applause for Mac OS X. The fact that Apple obviously neglected security in favor of new features seems to be not that important. So was Microsoft too credulous? Was it wrong to listen to those journalists complaining about the bad security of Windows? Would it have been better for Microsoft to just continue with their agenda and add new features instead of focusing on security? You can answer this question yourself.

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21 Comments
  1. darthservo 12 years ago

    Good writeup. I've appreciated 4Sysops' realistic views of things and the fact that you do not give in to the popular and trendy points of view like so many other "reputable" media sources. (That's one reason John Dvorak irritates me so much - he's only being outrageous and paid for the page hits generated). So, it is refreshing to read from a site that doesn't feel the need to end each story with something similar to "do yourself a favor and buy a Mac instead!"

    This article is exactly spot on, though. People enjoy Microsoft bashing. It was originally started in elite geek circles (back when Microsoft security was in fact horrendous) then quickly spread to a larger non-geek community, just as quite a few other trends were set by the geek community and most other people came to realize that technology is an integral part of day-to-day life.

    I will agree that there was too much up-front marketing that turned into fodder for bashing when they ended up cutting back. Most people can only see the GUI change as the sole leftover improvement and won't get past that. Coupled with installing it on poor hardware, then it will not be a good experience. But security wise, Microsoft has definitely improved with Vista.

    I am kind of done with the whole "Vista sucks" slogan in attempt to jump on the bandwagon.

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  2. Mark 12 years ago

    Microsoft get slapped because they slap software together, more people are more tech savvy these days and, well, let's just say that Microsoft have a bit of a history.

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  3. [...] Vista bashing - Why is it so popluar? Michael discusses Vista bashing, and suggests some reasons it’s so popular. (tags: PR Anti-Vista ) [...]

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  4. mik 12 years ago

    Vista is so good that linux/mac fan boys are trying to spread FUD against it.

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  5. ochiru 12 years ago

    Yeah, it's all about FUD. There's nothing more to it.

    I've tinkered with a lot of Linux distros. None of them has become even close of being complete products. The biggest problem is that _always_ there's that one big issue after which I format the hdd and try another distribution. Hardware support is very good nowadays but I've had to struggle with for years. Even on standard hw. Enthusiast hardware? Forget it.

    Latest one is a weird issue of my home computer randomly shutting itself down when loading kernel (x64) on a LFS LiveCD 6.3. No problems when booting to Vista x64, however.

    Because car comparisons are always so annoying:
    -Vista is stock car which is nice looking, goes well and runs on stock fuel. You've a few choices and customizing it is easy but often unnecessary
    -Linux is a sad little tuned up rust bucket or the fastest track-day monster. All depending which distribution you choose and how much tweaking (=time) you put at it
    -OSX is a set of Tupperware

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  6. Jeffrey Tadlock 12 years ago

    I normally run Linux on my home machines. I kept hearing all of the Vista bashing and rather than rely on what someone is writing out there on the Internet I decided to blow away a Fedora install I was running on my main desktop and put Vista on it so I could determine my thoughts on Vista for myself.

    I installed on a dual core AMD, 2GB of RAM, low end 3D graphics card and SATA disks. My initial impressions were not that bad. A new look and feel, lots of UAC prompts which I did leave enabled just to get a good feel for them. The graphics with Aero were okay, but not what I would call breath-taking.

    During the three or four months I used Vista I did some gaming (FPS's), it was used as a student's workstation for school type Word processing and spreadsheeting (Office 2007). The machine ran okay, but not as fast as it had when it was running Fedora on the same hardware. Switching between apps caused a lot of disk activity - which seemed to become worse as time went on - even with regular disk defrags and such.

    I tend to run several Virtual Machines for testing other things and I did the same with Vista. I initially used VMware Server, the same VM solution I used on Linux and also played with MS's virtual solutions as well. I saw a major performance difference here. Under Fedora I used to run four or five VMs at a time and you tended to forget they were even running in the background. Under Vista you would know if you were running more than two VMs at the same time.

    By the end I was tired of my computer with what I would consider decent specs running what I would call a little slow. Not like molasses, but slow enough that I felt like I wasn't getting the money's worth out of my hardware. With that I finally decided to switch back to Fedora, Fedora 8 in this case.

    The Fedora install was also an easy install. I had fewer drivers to install post install than I did with Vista, just a driver for the video card to enable 3D. The performance seems better to me and with Compiz I can get "cooler" desktop effects than I can in Vista.

    Obviously this is all pretty subjective. I didn't do actual benchmarks, just things I noticed along the way and my subjective opinions. For me Vista was not cutting it - it very well might.

    Now at a business I just can't see upgrading our working desktops that are performing quite well to a more resource intensive OS. There are still apps that do not work on Vista that are key to our business. That alone is showstopper. The additional RAM requirements to get people up to a reasonable amount for Vista just isn't worth the expense.

    SP3 for XP is will be coming out soon and it is said by some to make bigger performance improvements than SP1 for Vista. XP is still supported by MS so I am assured of security updates to keep the XP OS secure. While Vista's UAC is an attempt to make the OS more secure the implementation is poor in my opinion. If you endlessly prompt people for approving actions it eventually becomes habit to just say okay anytime you see the box before your head thinks about it.

    As for the management enhancements of the OS, they really don't mean as much if by pushing Vista to the desktop I anger the users for making their machines slower or results in application incompatabilities. My users are trying to get a job done to make the company money - not to be subjected to the latest Microsoft OS because Microsoft says that is what we are supposed to do. I can't really sell the "Vista will make my job of managing the client workstations easier.", when there are still apps that won't run on Vista or the performance hit the client PCs will take over their current XP OS.

    So from where I sit, some of the bashing is justified, some of it is people jumping on the bandwagon to simply bash Vista and some of it is just liking to see Microsoft fail. From my three or four months with Vista I can't say I gain anything from the move to Vista and will stick with Fedora.

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  7. ochiru 12 years ago

    Heh, I actually have a machine with very similar specs as Jeffrey 😉

    "I tend to run several Virtual Machines for testing other things and I did the same with Vista. I initially used VMware Server, the same VM solution I used on Linux and also played with MS’s virtual solutions as well."

    I've a few comments to add. First of all VMware Server 1 is not a Vista compatible product, and it shows, Workstation and Player are and those two work well.

    And don't you think that 2GB is rather little for five VM anyway? That's more like a server usage scenario than a workstation. I haven't got a need for five VM at any time, at most I use two VM at home and 3 on my work laptop (T60 w/VB).

    "The Fedora install was also an easy install. I had fewer drivers to install post install than I did with Vista, just a driver for the video card to enable 3D. The performance seems better to me and with Compiz I can get “cooler” desktop effects than I can in Vista."

    There's nothing wrong with Vista install, IMO, it's faster than installation of XP and some Linux distributions I've used. It's actually a little cheaper (shorter installation time) to buy a Vista laptop or workstation than one with XP!

    Most users don't have to install any drivers after installation (even on Vista x64). I initially only had to install a driver for my Audigy. I could've managed without a dedicated sound card. Even the GPU drivers included in Vista are decent enough. Remember that in XP the display drivers almost always had to be installed afterwards.

    "While Vista’s UAC is an attempt to make the OS more secure the implementation is poor in my opinion. If you endlessly prompt people for approving actions it eventually becomes habit to just say okay anytime you see the box before your head thinks about it."

    Users that have managed workstations at work don't usually have admin rights and thus cannot bypass the prompts and still KNOW what's the matter. That's a great improvement alone.

    As for self-certified home users. Well, how can you prevent them using Linux as a root? Is sudo a definite solution. Is it implemented any better than Vista's UAC? Both have some flaws, IMO, but are still better than nothing.

    At least users can actually use a regular user accounts (if they wish) and EASILY use admin pass for installing software. Not an improvement over XP?

    Actually I haven't tried Fedora yet. I'll test it out.

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  8. aaje 12 years ago

    I have two new Dell machines, both with 4GB and Vista Ultimate (an XPS and a Vostro laptop).

    Pro's:
    - The Aero interface is nice
    - MCE rocks
    - The gadgets are nice

    Con's:
    - Copying/moving files from disk to disk sometimes just doesn't work, and if it does, it is feels slower than XP
    - Copying files over the network slows down when playing music or video's
    - The default Aero interface takes up more screen estate than it used to in XP's default interface
    - UAC might be good to have, but it's still irritating as hell
    - My 1.2 MP Philips webcam, which worked perfectly under XP, suddenly is left driverless in Vista. Why? WHY??
    - Some apps aren't compatible
    - On my Vostro laptop, I have a webcam built in, but it stops working after I put the laptop in hibernation. I have to completely uninstall and reinstall the software to get the webcam to work again. Freakin frustratin'..

    So yeah, Vista deserves some bashing. I'm experienced enough to work around most issues, but you can't expect this from ordinary users. Companies rightfully pass this version over, because XP still delivers more bang for their buck.

    I WANT to like Vista. But there are some definite points that I hope will be fixed in SP1

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  9. Dave 12 years ago

    Honestly, the best reason to vista bash is that Microsoft made it difficult, if not impossible, to manage the current Microsoft servers with it. Only after all the uproar & incompatibility did they back off and let the OEM's sell XP too.

    If there weren't real problems with Vista, MS would never have gone back to XP in the consumer market. That speaks volumes and you don't have to be a techie to know that.

    I honestly like MS. I make my living from running (and fixing) microsoft servers. But as someone who manages MS server, and has Vista on the desktop....it's a pain. Sure you can RDP, but with XP, I could just install the tools I needed. That's a pain. That said, I remember the switch from 2K to XP being troublesome too...that's why I'm sticking with Vista on the desktop, even though it costs me time and productivity everyday.

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  10. Michael Pietroforte 12 years ago

    Darthservo, thanks! You’re right most just see that new GUI and then come to the conclusion that it is not reason enough to make the move. Nobody seems to realize that many compatibility problems are due to a fundamental change in the architecture of Windows. It will take time until businesses will make out the benefits these changes bring.

    Mark, I think it doesn’t make sense to bash Vista because of Microsoft’s questionable history. If you want to slap Microsoft because of their business practices, then feel free to do so. But don’t mix it up with technical matters about Vista.

    Mik/ochiru, it was expected that Linux and Mac fan boys would dig out all of Vista’s weaknesses. But this time, the criticism often comes from another corner. I have talked to people having no idea about computer technology, but they “know” that Vista is a failure. They know it from newspaper articles written by journalists who know as much about computers as they do. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t negative things to say about Vista. I have blogged about many weaknesses here. The strange thing is that so many who have no idea about computer stuff find it chic to bash Vista. It is like wearing the latest Nikes or having an iPhone.

    Jeffrey, thanks for sharing your experiences. I don’t think that the management enhancements affect Vista’s compatibility to XP. The number one reason why some apps don’t work anymore is the new security model. And you shouldn’t bash Vista or Microsoft for that, but the third party vendor instead. If they still don’t have a Vista compatible version, you might consider changing the vendor. I agree about your opinion on UAC, though. The idea behind it is right, but Microsoft’s implementation isn’t exactly brilliant.

    Aaje, I have read that file copying problem is solved now in SP1. As to your other cons, why would you bash Vista if your Philips web cam doesn’t work? Wouldn’t it be fairer to bash Philips instead? I also had a great Philips web cam. It was quite expensive when I bought it because it has a CCD sensor. Unfortunately, there are no Vista drivers for it. So I bought a new one. Rest assured that I didn’t buy a Philips web cam again.

    Dave, I absolutely agree. It seems to me that Microsoft simply underestimated the number of admins who prefer the adminpak tools over RDP. It is quite probable that this is one of the reasons why many Windows admins are skeptical about Vista.

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  11. Joel 12 years ago

    Great article! I've been running Vista since release and my first reaction to it was negative. I think for me there were two primary reasons for disliking Vista initially: first of all, it's definitely a resource-hog. My desktop is a couple of years old now and running Aero takes considerably more resources than XP. I've learned to live with this, though, having resigned myself to the cycle that pushes hardware capabilities ever forward.

    The second reason is one that I haven't heard too many people touch on, though, but I think is an important factor: the long wait for Vista. I had been using XP every day for five years before Vista came out. It wasn't perfect and it had its flaws, but it was my constant companion for a long time. Switching to anything at that point (especially something that didn't add very much in terms of new, exciting features) was bound to be met with some resistance. I consider myself to be an early adopter and a power user and all of those geeky things, and even for me it was tough to let go of XP, so imagine your average user's resistance to change after such a long time.

    What made me eventually come around was a combination of time and this trilogy of articles by Peter Bright over at Ars Technica. In it, he explains the changes in Vista that are not necessarily obvious but that are still important.

    In time, I've come to terms with the omnipresent UAC and the hefty beauty of the new GUI. To the Vista-bashers out there, I would suggest reading Bright's article, then seeing if you still feel the same way a few months from now.

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  12. Michael Pietroforte 12 years ago

    Joel, I agree, many are just used to XP now. They invested a lot of time in learning about XP and in their configuration. So they are afraid now to start from scratch. In my view, Microsoft should adopt the strategy of Linux distributors and come out with a new OS version every 6 months or so. I think it is easier for most people to go ahead in smaller steps.

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  13. KJ 12 years ago

    Face it, some things in Vista are a hassle. Learning curves are never in our comfort zones. Some of the changes are trivial, like the switch to pseudo-unix users/home folder names (virtual, no less!) from XP/W2K's "Documents and Settings".

    I'm seeing networking issues on peer-to-peer networks similar to the early Win98-XP incompatibilities. Users I know typically have issues sharing and mapping resources between Vista and the older versions of Windows, much of which is may be attributable to the kind of neutering MS started with XP (Pro vs. Home).

    UAC is the great failure of Vista though. How is that? One poll I saw has 2/3's of users disabling it. How good can UAC be when so few use it? Hopefully they can do something with it with in the upcoming SP1.

    And, undoubtedly, Vista IS a pig. The whole of the commercial computer industry seems hellbent on push know typically have issues sharing and mapping resources.

    Licensing issues promise to be more problematic. My sense is Vista "phones home" more than XP does to validate the install. I've had problems with an Enterprise copy being prompted for a MAK key. That's was a new one on me.

    But for all the bad things, I do believe Vista is here to stay, probably for many years. Not only does it provide a new security model, but it truly handles IP6, which is the future of networking. I've had friends pan the OS, comparing it to ME, which makes me chuckle. I understand the sentiment, but Vista isn't going away like ME did. MS put too much into it and it

    I'm not sure MS needs to release a new OS every 6 months or so. That would be a support nightmare. And actually, stretching out the life cycle of an OS has eased many support issues. A new Service Pack once or twice a year would do.

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  14. Michael Pietroforte 12 years ago

    KJ, I absolutely agree that not everything in Vista is perfect. I have been ranting against the new activation model and also against UAC many times on this blog. By the way, I guess you have seen this poll about UAC on 4sysops. 😉 As to the new releases, it's working for Linux distributions, then why not for Windows? Besides, Vista SP1 is nothing else than Windows 6.1. I just wished Microsoft released it 6 months earlier.

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  15. Rolf 12 years ago

    Don't know why everybody is so irritated by the UAC...
    USE AN USER-ACCOUNT! IT'S SO EASY!
    Ever tried to work with an user-account on XP? Obviously not!

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  16. Ronald 11 years ago

    Micheal,

    In regards to UAC, i will admit it is annoying to have to say yes twice, and it does become second nature to automatically click yes or allow when you initiate programs over and over on a regular basis. The fact remains that when a process or application attempts to modify your system files that you did not yourself initiate, then you "will" notice and that is where UAC's power comes into play.
    Imagine sitting there working and the UAC prompt pops up all of a sudden. Will you just nonchalantly allow, or will you stop what you are doing and find the interloper? I know when the UAC prompt will appear and just where I have to have my mouse in order to click allow instantly. The reason for it to appear is also known so there is no fear, but uninvited guests is where UAC becomes a star.

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  17. Michael Pietroforte 11 years ago

    Ronald, I think the scenario you describe is very unlikely. Malware is usually not installed when “I am sitting there and work”. In most cases, users actively install them. They download infected software or click on malware they received via e-mail. If they have admin privileges they will certainly confirm the UAC prompt. How often did a UAC prompt prevent you from installing malware? I must have confirmed already a thousand UAC prompts or so, but all of them were false positives.

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  18. Joel 11 years ago

    It's pretty clear, though, Michael, that you're not an average user. If someone gets an email with subject "Anna Kournakova nude pix!!!!11!" and an attachment, you're not likely to open said attachment. Yet I'm sure that loads of people do. UAC is one extra step. It says "what you're trying to do right now requires access to the deep, dark reaches of the OS. You sure about this?" Now I'm sure that some people will still click OK cause they're oh so excited to see Anna, but hopefully some people will clue in and say "hmmm, this never came up when I opened pictures before...maybe it isn't such a good idea to give admin access to Anna Kournakova pictures."

    The only perfect prevention against malware is a perfect user. And you and I both know how many of those there are. Both Linux and Mac boxes have UAC equivalents...I don't understand why it's so bad that Windows now has one. It works well for what it is designed to do. You'll never fully be able to protect users from themselves (especially if they have admin access) but UAC forces them to confirm their intent. What more can you ask for?

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  19. Nicholas James Lord 11 years ago

    Vista gets bashed because it just does not work..... My dead Grandmother is more co ordinated than Vista...still takes 4 minutes to boot...and there is more co ordination in a sock full of wet custaard compared to how Vista handles wireless.... SP 1 did 5/8th's of sweet stuff all....even updated a Mate's Xp machine yesterday and the whole system had a major spac attack...read conflict with Windows Live Messenger....nothing Microsoft does works any more....and this is on a core 2 duo top of the range Toshiba...... no wonder Microsoft gave all Vista buyers in Australia in 2007 a credit and back worked the machines to XP..... As for IE 7 I give up how many times do you have to reset this little stuffer.

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  20. Freeware 11 years ago

    I think when all said and done it's conclusive to deduce that the primary reason one's Vista isn't fully coherant with the needs and wants of todays personal computing society is simply due to the fact that it's PANTS!

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  21. DoggyDude 10 years ago

    I though Vista was the bee's knees when it came out. Looked great, very stable and packed with new features.

    Now, I hate ! Whilst I was at work, I used XP and only used Vista for home use (which was quite a good relationship), I actually said to colleges they should upgrade to it (fool me). Then, I left me job, and started using Vista as my primary OS... >...<

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