Consumers quickly forgave Microsoft for the disaster that was Windows ME with Windows XP. Windows XP came in two editions: Home and Professional. Windows XP was the first version of Windows to use the Windows NT kernel, making it the most stable version of Windows to date.
On the front end, Windows XP was a rather conservative update to Windows 98. It retained a similar look to previous versions of Windows though with a modernized design and color scheme. There were dozens of enhancements to the start menu, which makes the OS still feel modern to this day.
Windows XP was the longest running operating system from Microsoft, seeing three major updates its last update being released in April 2014 – 13 years from its original release date. Windows XP was still used on an estimated 430 million PCs — or 27.7% of all computers — when it was finally discontinued. Its success and popularity has proven to be something of a curse for Microsoft; it cannot convince consumers to upgrade it droves.
“Simply put, Windows XP is the best operating system Microsoft has ever built,” Bill Gates, is quoted as saying. And he’s right.
Another flop: Windows Vista
Released in January 2007, Windows Vista was “was just not executed well” according to former CEO Steve Ballmer.
Built on the Windows Server 2003 kernel, Vista shipped with the Aero GUI which on the right hardware would make Windows look quite nice. It also shipped with updates to all the essential programs like Internet Explorer 7, Windows Media Player 11 and IIS 7. There were also many new features too such as User Account Control (UAC), BitLocker Drive Encryption. It was also the first Windows OS to be shipped on a DVD.
However many complained that the OS itself was unstable. It was prone to crashing, as many complained, and occasionally compatibility issues sprung up. To the disappointment of many, one of the key features that Microsoft hyped for the release of the OS, an update to the file system called WinFS, never made it into the operating system. People just preferred Windows XP and didn’t see a compelling reason to upgrade.
Despite the overall disappointment of the operating system, and a late release date which meant it missed the Christmas 2006 shopping season, Vista went on to sell 100 million licenses.