Goodbye Windows Vista

Today marks the death of Windows Vista, as Microsoft officially ends support for its much maligned operating system. For many people this will be a cause of celebration as the unloved OS gets taken off life support. 

For others, who still use Windows Vista every day, it could be cause for concern. Will your PC suddenly keel over and stop working, now that Windows Vista is no longer getting updated? Or are you now more at risk from internet nasties?

The answer to those two questions is no and yes, in that order. Your PC will still be usable, but without critical security updates from Microsoft, there may be a chance that malicious users will find a security flaw in Vista in the future that won’t get patched quickly – or at all.

There’s still some good news, however, as the Netmarket Share website, which tracks the popularity of operating systems on the internet, reports that only 0.72% of the PCs on the internet use Windows Vista.

That’s a tiny amount – and not really worth a hacker’s time, especially when the similarly unsupported Windows XP offers a much bigger target (it’s still used by 7.44% of PCs on the internet). It could be argued that Windows Vista’s unpopularity is a plus when it comes to staying safe, but that’s probably little comfort to Microsoft.

Viva la Vista

But how do I feel about Windows Vista’s demise? A rather funny mixture of sadness, regret and nostalgia. My first gig as a budding technology journalist was on Windows Vista: The Official Magazine. My duties included explaining the new ways of doing things that Microsoft ushered in with Vista to baffled ex-XP users.

Yep. I worked on this.

Yep. I worked on this.

It involved putting a positive spin on Windows Vista, especially when it became apparent that the new operating system was going down about as well as a vomit-flavored chocolate egg at Easter.

Hardware incompatibilities, long boot times and a constantly nagging User Account Control window that kept popping up whenever you tried to do something with your PC, like the demonic spawn of Clippy, were common complaints.

Windows Vista wasn't that popular

Windows Vista wasn't that popular

Although many of these annoyances were addressed throughout Vista’s life, the perception of it being a bloated, buggy and user-unfriendly mess of an OS remained. This probably explains why when I told someone I worked for Windows Vista: The Official Magazine, they asked if my parents were proud of me.

For the record: mum was, she always is, but Dad still won’t look me in the eye. He uses Linux.

Truth be told, I actually preferred Vista to its predecessor XP, with the fancy new Aero interface a far nicer looking UI than XP’s primary colored and chunky look.

But you should never be too nostalgic over operating systems. Technology has moved on – as have security issues – so jumping ship to a newer OS is definitely a wise move, and despite its faults, Windows 10 is a definite improvement over Windows Vista.

Not many people will – or should – mourn Vista’s passing. It wasn’t a great operating system, but it wasn’t a truly awful one either. The award for most loathed version of Windows was snatched from Vista’s claws by the even worse Windows 8. At least I didn’t have to defend that by working on Windows 8: The Official Magazine!

Oh wait. I did.

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.