Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

Vista: Don't Call It Longhorn, Part 2

MJ just posted a commentary based on my post the other day about how Vista isn't really "Longhorn" circa 2003. She brings up some interesting "what-ifs". I mean, it's pretty academic at this point, hindsight being 20-20 and all that... but her piece triggered an interesting thought at the end. Lemme see if I can explain it correctly.

Originally, the plan was to make "Longhorn" a relatively minor release, with "Blackcomb" being the major release after that. But then .NET came along, and feature-creep spiraled out of control. One of the reasons that Vista is not Longhorn is because much of the functionality that was originally under the hood in Longhorn ended up getting moved into XP SP2 after MSBlaster hit.

We know that internally, Microsoft considered Windows XP SP2 a full-fledged OS release. So, why the cognitive dissonance between internal mindset and release plans since Windows XP's launch? It's not like Microsoft hasn't done a small point release next to a major one (Windows ME, anyone?).

So how do you think Windows would be perceived today if, instead of staying with the "Longhorn" name publicly and backtracking to Windows XP SP2, Microsoft had instead reverted Longhorn back to the original plan, and released a minor upgrade (let's say, Windows XP R2), and pushed all the advanced stuff forward to the next release? BTW, this is what they did internally, it's just not what they portrayed externally.Then they really could have followed the timeline MJ proposed in her article.

So I'm changing my original statement. Calling it a "reset" was the right thing to do. But what they should have followed it up with, was: "Plan A was to make Longhorn a minor release after Windows XP. Since MSBlaster has accelerated our need to get better security into the market, we're going back to Plan A. But because this upgrade is so important, we're going to make Windows XP R2 free to all customers." OMG, the industry would have gone nuts... "Microsoft Announces Free OS Release." How's that for a headline?

This is why Microsoft should hire me lol. Now it's MJ's turn to riff off of my riff on her riff of my post. Say that 5x fast.



  • JoeM said:

    Would have been good PR if MSFT did that.

    January 23, 2007 5:38 PM
  • Menge said:

    And in the end, at least in my eyes, Vista turned out to be exactly what it was planned: a minor release. i can easily see Vista becoming the next Windows ME (OK... not THAT bad :P).

    They should've made Vista be more interim. Not trying to push so much stuff into it. Vista just feels half baked to me. I'll only use it if it comes preloaded with my next computer and I have no chance of not paying for it.

    I EAGERLY expect, though, to see what can Microsoft do with the next release of Windows. At least they can use what they've learned from the whole Vista ordeal.

    PS.: Thanks to Vista, I'm buying my first Mac in these next few months :)

    January 23, 2007 5:54 PM
  • Merill said:

    If XP SP2 had been released as anything other than an SP it would never have got the fast and wide adoption it did. Anything else would have meant that it was an optional upgrade.

    Microsoft was right in being more concerned about protecting users and having SP2 as widely deployed as possible. In the end it is Microsoft that would have lost more if SP2 was not rolled out widely.

    January 23, 2007 7:31 PM
  • GRLT said:

    You two brought up some extremely good points but bringing ME up in the discussion was something I disagree with.  I think you were saying the idea of what ME was, though there were many features cut I don't think I consider this a minor release.

    January 23, 2007 7:31 PM
  • Questions said:

    If Vista is a minor release, why does it require much greater resources? ... new drivers? ... new security protections? .... new interface? .... incompatibility for older programs especially with the embarrassment with Zune software?

    I think it is a new OS release, but from the reviews, it would appear to be rather rough around the edges.

    January 23, 2007 9:06 PM
  • Keeron Modi said:


    maybe I am living under a rock, but I thought Vista was out (RTM) before Zune released. If so, how is it Vista's fault that zune and other software doesn't work on it? Btw, if you just go by reviews to give your opinions, I'd suggest getting of those linux journals and installing the vista build. I've been runnin Win98 games on it, old apps from win2k days, news apps, and so far there hasn't been anything that didn't work. Sure some might have issues (thats mostly because of the features, including security, in Vista). But there are ways to get the program running if you trust that program.

    The new drivers because Vista works best with the new hardware that's out there. You need the OS and apps to take advantage of these new hardware. Not sure about you, but I don't plan to run my new ATI card with a standard out of the box driver.

    January 23, 2007 10:23 PM
  • Keeron Modi said:

    oh forgot, there is something called Windows Update in Vista that practically found all the latest drivers for my new hardware (both on my home desktop and work laptop).

    January 23, 2007 10:25 PM
  • Questions said:

    "maybe I am living under a rock, but I thought Vista was out (RTM) before Zune released. If so, how is it Vista's fault that zune and other software doesn't work on it? Btw, if you just go by reviews to give your opinions, I'd suggest getting of those linux journals and installing the vista build."

    Not to be rude, but you missed my point. I said Vista appears to be more of a major new OS release rather than a minor release based on the fact that lots of  XP designed software is incompatible with Vista.  I had no such problem with XP and XP SP2 software. XP SP2 was described in this article as a major OS release and Vista is not.

    The reviews suggest that Vista's testing missed a bit on fit and finish, and it has some obvious bugs. That's disappointing for a product that was touted by Microsoft as being the most tested product ever.

    BTW, what the heck are you doing by referring to a Linux Journal?  I presume Vista's installation will be no different than XP or Windows 95. Just put in the disk.

    hmmm... Linux. Are you giving me a hint?  Maybe Vista isn't so great if you have to refer to Linux, which I think is the complete opposite of Vista in terms of accessibility to the non-techie like me.

    January 23, 2007 10:49 PM
  • Inkineer said:

    Mary Jo Foley and Robert McLaws are in a discussion about whether Vista is Longhorn or a "reset"

    January 23, 2007 11:15 PM
  • mysterious.e said:

    I think if they can deliver most of the Longhorn release in a Vista and Vista R2 release then they'll do quite well.

    Frankly, I hope microsoft will abandon the 'moon shoot' philosophy and make releases more like OS X. Hopefully they will decide to stay on the NT 6.x code base for a while.  I don't think we'll hear about Vista R2 until PDC 2007.

    January 24, 2007 12:11 AM
  • I don't want Windows to become like OS X. Apple sucks and makes you buy new versions of their OS every year or so. At least Microsoft knows how to separate out bug fixes from new features so you don't have to shell out $130 every year or so.

    January 24, 2007 1:28 AM
  • Just to be clear - there was nothing "embarassing" about the Zune in-box software not supporting Vista.  The people who have had legitimate access to Vista have always had access to the Zune software for it, and it's been available to the public for weeks already and Vista still isn't available to the general public.  So can we put that myth to rest, please?

    January 24, 2007 2:42 AM
  • January 26, 2007 3:31 AM
  • anonymous said:

    C'mon XPSP2 wasn't THAT big an upgrade and even if it was, it was only in terms of security enhancements. An OS release must be an overall improvement, like 2000 or XP. Vista again is focussed chiefly on security and improving upon EXISTING features or making them work better. Whatever few NEW features are being introduced, most of the key ones are being backported to XP. So, I REALLY think I can skip Vista and go for "Vienna". Bcoz I only got MSBlast, no other worm and now my computer can survive on XP.

    January 27, 2007 12:17 AM
  • May 22, 2007 5:43 PM