The successor to XP was going to be the King of all Windows, was going to have many new features and much better security. Unfortunately, the XP core could not cope, and just when the new operating system should have been getting ready for the big outdoors, the programmers dumped everything and had to start over.
A new Windows was released more or less every three years, and Vista was going to take another two years at least. Yes, Windows Vista was a bit of a rush job, and in November 2006, against the better judgement of many, Vista was let loose on the technical crowd and then eventually the public at large.
Vista looked very good indeed, far slicker than XP, but it was huge, needed huge force to push it around, and it was slow as molasses when performing some functions. Even the simple task of 'copy' files took forever, users being greeted with the 'Windows is calculating the time to ....... " quite often and for extended periods of time.
It was actually being very careful about what it did, and it tracked every last byte, but users didn't want to wait for something that they thought XP did anyway. Well, XP didn't, but what it did was always at lightning speed compared to the new kid on the block.
The IT press crucified it and would not let go throughout almost it's entire existence. It was dubbed 'the successor to ME', another operating system created on the back of a core that couldn't take the strain back in 1999. Unless it was installed on fairly impressive and compatible hardware, it was a real dog, and the device manufacturers were very slow to support it.
OEM manufacturers released it on less than impressive hardware, and it sank as low as an OS can. The SP1 service pack helped it quite a lot, and the SP2 service pack actually turned it into a very good operating system, but it was scarred deeply by the initial criticism and never recovered.
It was so bad that Microsoft was going to cut support for every edition other than Vista Business in 2012 because take-up by end users was so slow to 'not gonna'. End users considered themselves to have been scammed, and were not happy at the prospect of having to replace Vista so quickly with its successor, and in the end, Microsoft extended support until 2017.
Microsoft would rather Vista had just disappeared, as did many users, and even people who had never used it bandied Vista jokes around.
The truth is that on the right hardware, Vista SP2 was a very good operating system, and it became the foundation for Windows 7. That is how good it really was.
Had it been given the chance that it deserved, XP would not have become the monster that it has. XP was very good back in 2001 if compared to its home oriented cousins, and was at its peak after SP2, but it lacked security something wicked by comparison to Vista.
Vista was meticulous in everything that it did, too meticulous for many, but if System Restore was run, it actually worked. System Restore started life in Windows ME and appeared to have the name because if it was run, the operating system would have to be completely restored.. from the installation disk. Even in the mighty XP, System Restore was very hit and miss.
Vista also introduced UAC, User Account Control, which lives on in Windows 7 and 8. It may have been the most annoying implementation, but it certainly stopped many users from killing the operating system. The idea was to stop the worst happening and to give the user something to think about. Unfortunately, many users thought about a life without UAC, and wanted it gone.
Note that UAC in Windows 7 and 8 is way less obtrusive, but does exactly the same job as it did in Vista.
The operating system may have failed in its own lifetime, but it blazed a trail that will last a long time and on which many operating systems will owe their success.