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Hasta la vista, Vista

Microsoft will stop all support for Windows Vista in two months, ending the problem-plagued operating system's usefulness when it issues final patches on April 11.

The OS won't be missed: According to analytics vendor Net Applications, which estimated user share by counting unique visitors to tens of thousands of websites, Vista ran on less than 1% of all personal computers powered by Windows last month. Still, even that small percentage translated into approximately 14 million PCs when using Microsoft's claim that 1.5 billion devices run Windows.

Vista was never a break-out hit for Microsoft, as were both its Windows XP predecessor and its successor, Windows 7.

Even at Vista's peak nearly three years after its debut, the OS ran just 20% of all Windows PCs. From that October 2009 summit -- not coincidentally, the month of Windows 7's release -- Vista's share shrank. Within a year, it had slumped to less than 15%, and in less than two years it fell below 10%.

Vista's problems have been well chronicled. It was two-and-a-half years late; it was undone by early device driver issues; it was the focus of a lawsuit that revealed embarrassing admissions by senior executives; and was the butt of former CEO Steve Ballmer, who in 2013 cited Vista as "the thing I regret most."

Lost in Vista's troubles was that it represented a bigger victory for Microsoft than the next OS stumble, Windows 8 (and the follow-up Windows 8.1). Unlike Vista, the Windows 8/8.1 combination never cracked the 20% user share mark, topping out at 18% in May 2015.

After Vista's retirement from support, the next edition on the out-to-pasture list will be Windows 7, which is slated to receive its last security update on Jan. 14, 2020.

IDG Insider

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