As development on Windows XP was winding down, planning for the ‘next’ version of Windows started – back in 2001. At that time, Microsoft favored shorter development cycles offering minor upgrades (think Windows 95 to 98 or 2000 to XP), so Vista was seen as an interim, minor upgrade before Windows 7. The code name for the new version of Windows was Longhorn.
Although Longhorn was planned to be released in 2003, just two short years after Windows XP, as development began in earnest, Microsoft decided to focus on some larger areas of concern from XP – especially security. Other major enhancements such as a drastic change in graphics display and a new file system called WinFS made Longhorn turn into a major release.
Microsoft announced in August of 2007 that it was reworking Longhorn to include some of these major features and would thus delay the release of the OS. By moving the codebase to that of Microsoft’s Server 2003, Vista development was essentially restarted.
As development continued, Longhorn was finally given a proper name in mid-2005 – Windows Vista.
An unprecedented Beta testing program began by late 2005 including developers, IT professionals, Microsoft’s ‘Connect’ beta testers and eventually the public.
During some of the late beta releases as more and more of the public and businesses learned about Vista, some serious shortcomings became very apparent – performance in Vista was a major step backwards compared to XP, hardware requirements were higher than anticipated, hardware compatibility was a major issue as was everyone’s favorite – “UAC" where Vista would prompt the user nearly any time a change was made to the OS.
Vista was released in January of 2007 and although Microsoft claims Vista was a success, their follow-up Operating System – Windows 7 began development as Vista development was wrapped up.