Windows Vista's six month report card

It certainly doesn't seem like six months ago: Bill Gates delivers his Vista launch speech at the British Library

It's exactly six months since Microsoft 's new operating system hit shelves across the globe. Threatened by its own over-hype and intense negative speculation before launch, it's held its own surprisingly well, fighting off all but the most eager flaw-seekers. We've watched the progress of Windows Vista through its teething stages, carefully taking notes in preparation for this report...

On the last day of the month, Windows Vista (and Office 2007) is released to consumers worldwide. The launch is marked in the UK by Bill Gates himself, giving a speech at the British Library , attended by Events around the world mark its launch, and by end-of-play on release day PC World announces that sales in the UK have "exceeded expectations", with Home Premium the definite favourite among early adopters.

Mere days after release, security researchers gleefully announce a 'major' flaw in Vista's speech recognition that could allow unauthorised remote control of a user's PC. Microsoft rolls its eyes, pointing out how extremely unlikely the steps required for this to occur are. Bill Gates announces that Vista has had an "incredible reception", adding that manufacturers selling Vista PCs have seen a notable boost in sales. At the same time, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer labels projected sales figures "overly optimistic", blaming piracy for poor sales . Animated wallpaper utility Windows Dreamscene is previewed to Vista Ultimate users.

Security firm Kaspersky declares Microsoft's 'most secure Windows ever' to be less secure than XP. Evidence accumulates, as a vulnerability in the way both operating systems handle animated cursors is revealed, leading to the release of Microsoft's first emergency security patch for Vista. Despite the giggles, and despite Ballmer's announcements to the contrary, Microsoft declares that it sold more Vista licences - over 20 million - in the first month of sale than it sold in the first two months after Windows XP's launch.

Dell announces that due to demand from "a small minority of customers", it's reintroducing the option to buy its computers with Windows XP installed. Meanwhile, owners of PCs bought before Vista's launch bearing the 'Windows Vista Capable' moniker file a group lawsuit against Microsoft. They state that it lead them to believe their new PCs could handle the flagship Ultimate edition. An online petition to the Prime Minister demands that Downing Street pressures Microsoft into reducing the retail price of Vista to an international standard. Microsoft's results are also announced, which show the software vendor has experienced a shot in the arm from sales of Vista.

Despite 10,000 signatures, Downing Street rejects the pricing petition, stating that Microsoft is under no legal obligation to sell its products at an internationally-uniform price. Vista continues to sell over twice as fast as XP, with over 40 million copies now sold . Gates announces that there are more Vista users than OS X users. Surprisingly, 80 per cent of copies sold are the wallet-assaulting Ultimate edition. Those unwilling to pay for Ultimate cheer as hackers finally release a fully-cracked edition.

Creative Labs finally releases its Alchemy bridge software, enabling surround sound processing on its XFi range under Windows Vista. It's a bad month for gaming in Vista - Microsoft's Halo 2, the first game advertised as Vista-only by Microsoft, is released in Europe to a lukewarm reception. Developer Falling Leaf Systems releases a cutting press release. In it, it states that in response to Microsoft's "forced migration onslaught" it will soon be releasing a patch to allow Halo 2 to be played on Windows XP, which apparently isn't as hard to do as Microsoft makes out.

Acer President Gianfranco Lanci declares that "the entire industry is disappointed by Windows Vista". Leading industry analyst Gartner agrees, reporting "Vista's impact on consumer demand is considered to have been minimal." Convoluted information begins to arrive from various sources about Service Pack 1; a beta may or may not be imminent. The final release will either be towards the end of the year, or in 2009 - at the earliest. Microsoft announces that Windows 7 will be here within three years. Few breaths are held.

Also see: Hardware and Windows Vista: 128 days later


Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.