The History and Development of Microsoft Vista

By: Marko Hammond

For a little over five years, expectant consumers looked with great anticipation to the commercial release of Windows Vista. Since its commercial release on January 30, 2007, people are wondering, "What took Vista so long?" Perhaps a brief tour of its history will shed some light on the question.

Longhorn

Crucial to any account of the history of Vista are Whistler, Longhorn and Blackcomb which are actually real names of places in British Columbia. Both Whistler and Blackcomb are ski resorts while Longhorn is the little bar in between the two ski sites. In Microsoft, the names became code names. Whistler was actually Windows XP, Longhorn was Windows Vista and Blackcomb is yet an unknown higher operating system version. If you get the analogy between the actual places and the operating systems, you would easily understand that Windows Vista is intended to be an interim system.

The Beginning

Even before Windows XP was released, Microsoft made it known that since May of 2001, they were working on the development of a new operating system. The general excitement became apparent and since the second half of the year 2002, build leaks, both fake and real, crept into the internet. As early as June 2002, there was already some talk that Vista would have improved security features and a more modern look. By October 20, 2002 however, the first Longhorn build leak showed that it seemed much like Windows XP. There was a succeeding leak on February 28, 2003 though that showed that Windows Explorer would sport a new Plex theme.

By the last few months of 2003, the development of Windows Vista suffered a setback when Microsoft realized that they were not making good progress. It seemed as if there was no apparent focus on what the final product should be. The path of Longhorn then had to be properly mapped with the goal of making Vista better.

It somehow became apparent in the middle of 2003 that Longhorn would never make it for an early release. The release was then pushed to the early part of 2005. Some saw this as a sign of Microsoft's commitment to the development of the new system.

By April 30, 2004, a hint of Aero transitions were seen for the first time. The jade theme and additional sidebar tiles were seen on another build leak on May 4, 2004.

The Final Stretch

The style of Aero finally came into focus in an April 1, 2005 build. Two months after, the name Windows Vista was unveiled. For many, the system name brought the hope of achieving greater ease and clarity.

On July 27, 2005, Windows Vista Beta 1 was released. Beta testers had their first taste of a new user interface, virtual folders, parental controls and networking stacks. Windows Vista Beta 2 followed on May 23, 2006 which was made downloadable for users in the following month. On November 8, 2006, the final build had been made. The final product was finally made available on the market on January 30, 2007.

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