But Microsoft was embarrassed by revelations that its own execs had trouble with Vista and that computers labeled "Vista Capable" in fact could not run Vista, calling into question Microsoft's honesty, as well as that of many PC makers. The result was a messy lawsuit that is still dragging on, as it became clear that Microsoft was split internally about the accuracy of its "Vista Capable" certification claims.
XP does die, sort of
During the six months of this anti-Vista brouhaha, Microsoft held firm to the June 30 kill date for XP and indeed pulled the plug as promised. But it also started talking about the "downgrade" option that let many users buy Vista Business or Vista Professional, then use that license to replace Vista with XP. Microsoft also let PC makers continue to sell XP on new systems by using the downgrade approach to call it a Vista sale.
Currently, Dell Computer and Hewlett-Packard offer downgrade PCs, though consumers need to buy them through their small-business storefronts. Originally, downgrade sales were to end on Feb. 1, 2009, but Microsoft recently extended their availability through June 30.
Windows 7 takes the stage as Vista gets better
As the Vista doubts became mainstream, Microsoft began to talk up Windows 7, the Vista-based successor to Vista scheduled for release in early 2010. As InfoWorld's Kennedy has shown in his tests of the Windows 7 pre-beta version, Windows 7 is essentially Vista with some interface changes, a claim Microsoft CEO Ballmer concurs with -- but he quickly adds that Windows 7 is "a lot better."
And Microsoft has continued to work on Vista, with the SP2 update now in beta. SP2 helps boost Vista's speed, Kennedy's tests show.
As 2008 draws to a close, Vista has returned to being a quiet failure as the world waits for Windows 7.