Was Windows Vista the inspiration for Windows 10 (and 8)?

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I’ve been thinking lately about some of the features in Windows 10, and two things are striking to me: first, just how many of the current new or revised features last saw a major refresh (or were introduced) in Vista; and also how Windows 7 was actually a bit of an odd-one-out.

On the first point: the comparison below. Yes, some features listed for Vista did debut in editions of XP first (such as “Journal” and “Snipping Tool” in the tablet-edition, and “Media Center” from that respective edition; but Vista was the first OS they were “there for everyone”, similar to how Plus! features in the 9x days became integrated in future releases); and yes, a number of features listed for Windows 10 (File History, File Explorer, Task Manager) were first introduced or revamped in Windows 8 (but let’s face it, the vast-majority of users will have never used 8, so 10 is where they’d first encounter them).

And as for Windows 7: it is striking how a number of new or updated apps (Calendar; Mail; “Meeting Space”; “Movie Maker”; “Photo Gallery”) and Control Panel options (“Pen and Touch”, “People Near Me”, “Tablet PC Settings”) in Vista didn’t make it into Windows 7; and yet today, in Windows 10, virtually all have re-appeared in one-form-or-another.

(Tip: to find “Movie Maker” in Windows 10: open an image in the default “Photos” app, then click “Edit & Create”, then “Create a video with music”. The UI is very-much like the old Me/XP/Vista layout!)

Comments (9)

9 responses to “Was Windows Vista the inspiration for Windows 10 (and 8)?”

  1. Avatar

    waethorn

    ReFS is a niche feature that Microsoft put on the back burner. They're not gestating new features for it to make it a viable replacement for NTFS. It's only available for compatibility reasons. I get the feeling they regret putting it out but are only maintaining it for customers that actually used it.


    One of the things you forgot was image-based deployment. Along with that came Windows PE/RE.

    • Avatar

      dftf

      In reply to Waethorn:

      I guess eventually the improvements from ReFS might just get backported into NTFS? The fact currently only "Pro for Workstations" and "Enterprise" can create new volumes using it is rather limiting. And an average consumer PC, with a SATA or m.2 SSD, does NTFS ever cause a significant bottleneck, or was ReFS a solution looking for a problem? (In contrast, exFAT means files larger-than 4GiB on volumes where file-permissions are not required, such as microSD cards, so has at-least one clear-purpose: overcoming FAT32 limitations).


      Yes, the whole ".WIM" format did start with Vista, you're right (and .VHD was first used in it for the "System Image" option, then called "Complete PC Backup"). But what would I put in the "Windows 10" column -- what has replaced image-based deployment since then, or how has it been vastly improved?


      (I suppose from the image-based deployment the biggest new feature to be built from that tech would be "Windows To Go" -- another thing first introduced in Windows 8 -- but it isn't developed anymore.)

      • Avatar

        waethorn

        In reply to dftf:

        ReFS hasn't had any real work to it since it was introduced. It created, and Microsoft said it *might* replace NTFS, but they never did anything with it. ReFS supports snapshots, copy-on-write, integrated RAID-like array functionality, storage pools, online block checking and error correction....it's essentially the Windows equivalent of ZFS. NTFS doesn't offer any of that. Due to the lack of commitment from Microsoft, ReFS documentation is non-existent so data-recovery tools are equally non-existent, and yet they faced a horrible data integrity issue not that long ago.


        VHD's were used in Virtual PC and Virtual Server long before Vista.


        Deployment in Windows Vista used ImageX. DISM only had limited capabilities. ImageX has since been deprecated in favour of DISM though, and DISM's feature set has incorporated all of the previous stuff from ImageX and then some.

  2. Avatar

    hrlngrv

    Inapt to compare AMD64 to ARM since the former is CISC and could run Intel 32-bit machine code natively while the later is RISC and can't run any Intel machine code without emulation. And there were MIPS and Alpha versions of Windows NT 4, quite a bit before Windows XP.

    As a longish time Linux user, I have to smile at MSFT's, er, reticence towards file systems over which MSFT can't exercise IP rights. Last I read about ReFS, Windows couldn't have been booted from it, so C: would still be an NTFS volume, and given the way Windows works in the real world, that means C:\User, C:\ProgramData, C:\Program Files would also remain under NTFS, and only additional data file volumes would be ReFS. Rather different from the concept of WinFS.

    • Avatar

      dftf

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      It is questionable around the future of ReFs, sure, given Wikipedia says "there are no tools to repair or recover a ReFS filesystem" (not even CHKDSK, apparently!) and "Windows Store cannot install apps on a ReFS volume". In recent versions of "consumer" Windows (any SKU except Pro for Workstations and Enterprise) it's possible to use a volume formatted as such, but not create a new one -- so reminiscent of how DriveSpace eventually (by Windows Me) could access drives compressed with it and decompress them, but no-longer create any new volumes. Maybe they'll just port-over any improvements into NTFS originally and then ditch it, and just convert ReFS drives to NTFS (similar to how in old Windows they did conversions from FAT16 to FAT32 and from FAT to NTFS)?

    • Avatar

      dftf

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      I'm not saying on a technical-level AMD64 and ARM CPUs are the same thing -- I'm purely talking from an everyday-user perspective: when 64-bit Windows came-along, Vista was the first version that it started to become normalised, though there were issues around driver and app compatibility (especially how no 16-bit apps would run). But if neither of those would affect you, you gained extra security features and could use more RAM.


      Purely on that level, the ARM version of Windows 10 is a similar story for end-users today: currently no AMD64 apps will run on it, only "Intel32" (and native ARM64, of course). If that wouldn't affect you, then you could gain better battery-life (though given AMD are currently on 7nm and are moving to 5nm in 2021, maybe this is a gap soon to close?) and security (in respect to chip-level issues, such as Spectre and Meltdown, where ARM were the least-affected).

  3. Avatar

    irfaanwahid

    I would love a deep dive article from Paul on WinFS (BTS, Internal discussions, development etc). Which was one of the pillars of Windows Vista but was stripped off. I was really fascinated with what it could bring to the table, at that time.

  4. Avatar

    Alastair Cooper

    Inspiration isn't really right. These were concepts that Microsoft came up with and iterated over through multiple versions of their software.


    It would be more appropriate to say that Windows 10 is *descended* from Vista. Also important to know, new versions of Windows aren't built from scratch, the existing codebase is modified and extended. Huge swathes of Windows 10's code will have been present already in Vista (or even earlier, though Vista was a huge overhaul).

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