Things did not improve once Vista launched on Jan. 30, 2007. Reviews of the operating system were largely negative, with many citing poor performance on that day's hardware. And users complained that Vista's move to a new driver model had crippled a wide range of components and peripherals. Even several top Windows executives -- including Stephen Sinofsky, who had taken charge of Windows development the day after Vista's retail release -- complained about missing drivers in emails made public during a court case accusing Microsoft of deceptive practices when it launched a "Vista Capable" marketing program in the launch run-up.
Other complaints ranged from Vista's new, intrusive anti-exploit technology -- User Account Control, or UAC -- to more stringent licensing and anti-piracy features.
But Vista, for all its flaws, real or imagined, was not a wash-out, as Windows 7 was essentially a reworked Vista that relied on the same code base.
Windows 7, of course, was a wild success, because by the time it was released in 2009, hardware capabilities had caught up to its demands and vendors had had years to craft reliable drivers. Last month, Microsoft boasted that more than 60% of the world's enterprise desktops were running Windows 7.
Microsoft has put Vista behind it: It hasn't breathed the name for years; it stopped selling the OS in the fall of 2010, 12 months after the debut of Windows 7; and it stopped serving OEMs with the code in the fall of 2011.
Even so, Microsoft will continue to support Vista with security fixes until April 2017. The company stopped delivering non-security bug fixes for Vista in April 2012.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.