Windows XP was barely out of the box in 2001 when Microsoft started talking about the next version of Windows, then code-named Longhorn. eWEEK first began writing about what was to become Vista in the fall of that year. Thats almost five years ago, a veritable eternity in the world of PC technology. It was at least 700MHz and 972MB of memory ago. Thats the difference between what Microsoft recommended for XP and what Vista will require—a 1GHz processor, 1GB of memory and 128MB of graphics memory if users want to take full advantage of all Vistas bells and whistles.
To put the gap in further perspective, in the five years prior to XP, Microsoft shipped three major versions of Windows: 95, 98 and 2000. (Windows 2000 actually had been in development as Windows NT for most of the 1990s.) When critics such as former Sun CEO Scott McNealy started referring to the next-generation Windows as “LongWait,” they werent kidding. In 2001, the target release date was 2005, and its been slipping ever since and it may slip past the current general availability date of January 2007.
Why the long wait? It could be that Microsoft set its sights too high for Vista: Many early touted features have been stripped out to meet deadlines.
The more likely reason, however, is that Microsofts development bureaucracy finally has met its match in complexity. For example, as Microsoft Watch Editor Mary Jo Foley reports, early Vista betas have ex-posed problems with drivers, compatibility and networking. Foley quotes Michael Reyes, a principal with the HardwareGeeks.com community site, as saying, “Between the sound stack and video drivers having to be redone, a lot of the available library of drivers are very rough around the edges and do cause lock-ups.”
Drivers? Lock-ups? This is Windows 95 all over again. Microsoft would do well to leave out the resource-hogging “eye candy,” as eWEEK Labs Senior Analyst Jason Brooks calls it in his blog, and focus on stability and security. Of course, weve been saying this for years, and we are still waiting.
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