In a speech to fellow CEOs at Microsoft’s 14th annual CEO Summit, Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer said something that gives us an insight into what went wrong with Vista.
Taking about the operating system, he said:
“We tried too big a task and in the process wound up losing thousands of man hours of innovation.”
The problem with Microsoft (specifically in the pre Windows 7 days) is that the company had a huge track record of vaporware announcements. During the development of Longhorn (the project that led to Vista), there was an almost daily flow of announcements and new features from Microsoft. Longhorn was going to be everything to everybody.
Then there were external pressures. Not only was Longhorn having to keep up with what Microsoft wanted from it, it also had to keep up with the tech industry and the changes and developments there. Feature creep built on top of feature creep, and eventually the project collapsed under its own weight and Microsoft threw out the existing code, took the Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 codebase and added to this the features that would transform it into Vista.
Overall, Vista cost Microsoft around $6 billion to develop.
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