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Is Vista really that bad or do we have rose tinted glasses - How well was Windows XP accepted in the early years

I have had a bit of a rant with Vlad over at Vista SP1 vs. XP SP3 Performance Stats: Flawed Samples or Market Reality? and the comments are good - the communication is very worthwhile, but I thought I would share some of the "what was it like with Windows XP" reality.  That does not excuse the issues people see, but rather highlights the fact that with XP, it took some time for things to bed down and hopefully what you are seeing with Vista is a more responsive Microsoft and partner eco-system.

Complaints about Whistler (Windows XP and 2003) come in the form of performance, adoption rates, application compatibility, relevance - all things people are complaining about today with Windows Vista.  I will say it again - ONLY DEPLOY VISTA IF IT MAKES SENSE FOR YOUR BUSINESS.  What is more, only deploy Windows XP on new machines if there is a compelling reason to NOT deploy Vista.  Remember that if you buy Vista Business / Ultimate and downgrade you can then re-load Vista at a later date without having to re-buy the OS.  Buy XP and you will have to purchase the OS too.



Vista does many things to improve performance, but there is a limit as to how much juice you can squeeze into a firmly boxed space. 1GB of RAM is now a minimum and with multi-core coming along, scaling sideways is not a more important trick that raw performance.  Vista has many things under the bonnet to improve performance, but in some scenarios it still does not work like XP.  Just look at the "fix" that Alistair found for his Dell - Alistair likes Vista and found out that the Dell SATA drivers were making is go slow

ENT Review: Windows XP - I feel I could be reading a Vista review

For IT organizations that have already standardized on Windows 2000, however, the rationale for upgrading to Windows XP is altogether less clear cut.


Speed and Performance Considerations

We deployed Windows XP on a 1.4-GHz Athlon system (512 MB of RAM); a 1-GHz Toshiba Tecra 8200 laptop (256 MB of RAM); a 500-MHz IBM Thinkpad 570E laptop (128 MB of RAM); a 450-MHz Pentium III custom-built system (192 MB of RAM); and a 333-MHz Pentium II custom-built system (192 MB of RAM).

Not surprisingly, out-of-the-box Windows XP runs noticeably slower than out-of-the-box Windows 2000 when hosted on the same hardware. Although a number of factors could contribute to this disparity – the presence of XP’s additional code foremost among them – after a lot of tweaking and rooting around, we managed to isolate and identify two of the biggest detriments to XP’s overall performance: Its flashy new "Luna" user interface (UI) and its new system restore facility. When both features are disabled, XP doesn’t run much slower than Windows 2000 and –- in some cases such as accessing or mapping network shares -– actually seems to perform better.

Hosted on a 500-MHz or higher processor, Windows XP’s new look-and-feel doesn’t drag too terribly much, and –- when given a 1-GHz or higher processor with which to play –- it practically flies. Deployed on a slower processor, however, Luna definitely hits the skids. On our 333-MHz box, for example, XP was much snappier when configured to use its Classic Windows UI. Viewing visual effects, screen redraws and page scrolling was a painful experience in the Luna UI.


Windows XP Annoyances for Geeks , Second Edition - tips, tricks and books on how to increase the performance of XP over 9x were common

In many ways, Windows XP is able to better take advantage of your hardware than Windows 9x/Me, but that doesn't mean it's configured for optimal performance right out of the box. Because all the software you run is dependent upon the operating system, tweaking Windows for better performance can result in performance gains across the board.

To start off, there are several easy settings that can have a substantial effect on Windows responsiveness. The next few sections explain these settings.


Adoption Rate

Say there are 1 billion PCs and notebooks in the world (I know it is not, but lets keep the maths simple).  How many could you upgrade in the 1st year? Even if the OS was free?  Application testing / fixing, time to deploy, training costs, lost time while upgrade happens, hardware upgrades - and this assumes you don't spend the time to work out how it could improve your processes rather than just sitting under them the same way the previous OS did.  Research shows that the cost of the software is a minute part of the cost of deploying, so the fact it is not free is a minor point, but adds to the TCO that has to be considered.  So when people say "oh, 88M is not fast enough" I think they don't really understand the effort people have to go to upgrade.  So, in the 1st year, would 10% be an amazing number?  Well, here we are 1 year since it was available to volume license customers (10 months for consumers) and we are at 88M - I would say that is health - and still good compared to Windows XP.  This is why Microsoft has created so many tools to make it easier to deploy Windows to help reduce the pain involved (eg Desktop Deployment Planning Services Readiness (BDD v3) Workshop for Microsoft UK Partners)

Windows 98: What now? - January 2004 - 15/16 months after the release of XP

Among enterprises, the Windows 9x architecture continues to retain a considerable corporate presence. In a survey of 670 corporations, the research division of consulting company AssetMetrix Research Labs found that more than 80 percent of companies had at least one instance of Windows 95 or Windows 98. In addition, more than 27 percent of the total PCs deployed at the 670 organizations surveyed were running Windows 95 or Windows 98, compared with about 7 percent using Windows XP, according to AssetMetrix, of Ottawa.


Windows 9x next steps

  • IT managers with Windows 9x installations should consider the following:
  • Ensure that all PCs, regardless of operating systems, have the latest Microsoft Security Hotfixes
  • Identify the magnitude of Windows 95 and Windows 98 presence in the corporation via a PC inventory
  • Prioritize Windows 9x-based PCs with access to the Internet as candidates for migration
  • Determine if installations of Windows 2000 or Windows XP are covered under a Microsoft Volume Licensing Agreement
  • Determine if PC candidates require RAM or hard drive upgrades—or require a complete replacement
    Source: AssetMetrix


    Enterprises must consider a number of factors before upgrading. Moving to Windows XP or a non-Microsoft operating system will incur training and hardware upgrade costs, for example. Moving to Windows 2000, meanwhile, may be risky because the operating system is relatively mature and could be phased out by Microsoft in the not-too-distant future.

    The easiest way to upgrade from Windows 9x is to start fresh by bringing in new PCs. The added benefit is that hardware that will easily support Windows XP or Windows 2000 stands a better chance of being able to support Longhorn when it becomes available.


    Windows XP SP2 Penetration Hits 60 Percent - after 1 year the SP was only at 60% of Windows XP base, which was then about 30-50% of the Windows base

    Earlier this month, Microsoft reported distributing more than 218 million copies of SP2 since releasing the service pack nearly a year ago. While Microsoft doesn't publicly disclose figures, they frequently refer reporters to the data collected by analysts at IDC.

    "As of the middle of 2005, IDC estimates the installed base of Windows XP Professional and Windows XP Home to be 371 million operating systems installations," IDC analyst Al Gillen said. That means Microsoft distributed 58.8 percent as many copies of SP2 as of Windows XP. 


    Slow Corporate Rollout for Windows XP SP2 - many organisation try to avoid upgrading to even service packs, let alone complete OSs

    According to a new study by an IT asset management firm, only 24 percent of corporate Windows XP desktops have been upgraded to Windows XP SP2.

    "Based on our research, a substantial number of companies have yet to decide whether to accept or embargo Windows XP SP2," Steve O'Halloran, managing director of the research lab for AssetMetrix, said. AssetMetrix is a five-year-old, Ottawa, Canada-based company providing what it calls an on-demand asset intelligence service.

    AssetMetrix's study looked into the level of SP2 penetration in the IT environments of 251 North American companies with more than 136,000 PCs.

    According to O'Halloran, 40 percent of companies using Windows XP have actively avoided upgrading to SP2. Only 7 percent have actively accepted SP2. The remaining 52 percent showed no direction or policy toward SP2. Those firms "may find themselves having support issues by allowing multiple editions of Windows XP to exist in their infrastructure," he said.


    Users Enjoying Breather Between Windows XP and Longhorn - people have always been keen to stay where they are and not move

    September 22, 2004

    So how have users reacted to Microsoft’s move? With equanimity, for the most part. “The marketplace, for all its clamoring about features and value, is highly resistant to implementing software with major changes, often citing end-user retraining and third-party software changes,” says Andrew Baker, director of network services with a prominent global media conglomerate. “If you give them exactly what they say they want, they still won't implement it until six months after the first service pack.”

    Paul Green, a Windows administrator with a non-profit agency, says that he’s quite happy with Windows XP.

    “I currently don't have any plans in place to upgrade to Longhorn. Most everyone in the organization is running Windows XP -- SP1 or SP2 -- at the moment, and their needs are being met,” he says, adding: “If I were forced to use Windows 2000 on all current desktops, I would still be in good shape. So there really isn't any urgency for at least this organization to be upgraded.”


    7 Million Windows XP Shipments - no-one was impressed with the acceptance of Windows XP and the same discussions are being had about Vista

    Microsoft Corp. claims 7 million copies of Windows XP shipped in the two weeks since it launched the new operating system.

    Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates calls the sales "amazing," and another Microsoft official suggested the momentum around the new OS could spur computer buying over the holidays. One industry analyst who follows Microsoft shipment numbers closely suggests the number is less stunning than it might sound.

    "The appetite of businesses and consumers worldwide for innovative PC technologies is stronger than ever," Gates enthused in a Comdex speech. "We believe that Windows XP will light a fire of innovation across the entire high-technology industry."

    Microsoft says sales have been about 200 percent what they were for Windows 98. The 7 million figure dovetails an industry milestone Microsoft reportedly reached with Windows 95 about two months after its release.

    Al Gillen, an analyst who tracks operating system shipments for market research firm IDC, says comparison with previous operating system sales are meaningless.

    "It would strike me as really odd if the first couple months of Windows XP sales are not higher than anything else that Microsoft has ever sold," Gillen says. "If it was less than any previous operating system it would be a complete failure."

    Gillen points to two key pieces of context in evaluating Microsoft's momentum numbers.

    First, Microsoft currently sells more than 100 million copies of client operating system licenses per year, many more licenses than it did at the time of the Windows 98 or any other previous client operating system launch. (While 7 million units in two weeks puts Microsoft on a pace to greatly exceed 100 million units, sales momentum usually spikes in the first month after release).

    Second, Windows XP unifies the code base for the first time, meaning it can replace all prior operating systems -- Windows 9.x consumer operating systems and Windows NT-based business operating systems.


    Application Compatibility

    I don't know if there is 200,000 or 1,000,000 applications available for Windows, but I do know it is masses.  If you are an application writer it takes time to support more than one OS, so there is always a delay between an OS becoming available and an application supporting it as the dev cycle in the application vendor will take priority over Vista deployment.

    Windows 2003 compatibility issues upset some IT pros - application compatibility a problem on all versions of Windows as ISVs go through the certification process in a time that matches their business needs

    Curran said CE Franklin will delay its upgrade to Windows Server 2003 by at least 12 months because of the application compatibility issue. The oil and gas equipment supplier is still running Exchange 5.5 on Windows NT 4.0, and a simultaneous migration would be "too much for us to undertake in a single upgrade," he said.

    Alejandro Bombaci, CIO at Empresas Polar, a consumer goods maker and distributor in Caracas, Venezuela, said his company typically migrates the operating system—the "enabler layer"—and then the applications. "Upgrading both at the same time is too risky," he said, although in his case, the upgrades mostly involve non-Microsoft applications.



    People will always say "that is not good enough for my business".  If that is after a proper analysis of the business needs then that is great.  A year or four later that may well change, but it is the evaluation that is important rather than a "from the hip" decision.

    Column: Don't Lose Sleep Over Windows XP - simple, people said it was not for business

    As an IT manager, you’re pretty busy. That’s why I suspect any curiosity you have about Windows XP boils down to this: Is this a business upgrade that I’m going to have to deploy or what?

    The short answer: It’s not looking that way yet.


    The problems Windows XP solves are primarily aimed at consumer users.


    Ok, that is my look back.  Now you can also find many good reviews of Windows XP and Windows Vista, but lets not forget that adoption takes time and platforms take time to bed down.  The more software and hardware you support, the longer this process takes, although the Microsoft beta programmes reduce this period significantly.


    ttfn and happy installing Vista


    Posted Thu, Nov 29 2007 9:15 AM by David Overton


    n-blue wrote re: Is Vista really that bad or do we have rose tinted glasses - How well was Windows XP accepted in the early years
    on Fri, Nov 30 2007 3:30 PM

    Great post! you got the point. Most people forget about that. I still remember the day I can not upgrade to XP and those driver issue. As I always said in my blog adoption on Vista is greater compared to XP.

    David Overton's Blog wrote More on Vista vs XP performance - why doesn't everyone want a racing car, but instead do they opt for safety, comfort or even the ability to have more than one passenger?
    on Sun, Dec 2 2007 10:26 PM

    Having been quotes by Vlad and others I thought I had better make myself a bit clearer. 1st off, this

    David Overton's Blog wrote More on Vista vs XP performance - why doesn't everyone want a racing car, but instead do they opt for safety, comfort or even the ability to have more than one passenger?
    on Mon, Dec 3 2007 6:24 AM

    Having been quotes by Vlad and others (or was this others? ) I thought I had better make myself a bit

    ASP Net Web Development wrote re: Is Vista really that bad or do we have rose tinted glasses - How well was Windows XP accepted in the early years
    on Tue, Sep 2 2008 1:08 PM

    During launch of vista people were saying it is not as good as XP in security measures.... but what you explained is also right to much extent...

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