And the award for the worst operating system ever made goes to…

Windows Vista Home Basic

Windows 8 has had some very bad press since it was first released:

You will hate 8, wait for 9” – CNET

A desktop OS for tablets and a tablet OS for desktops, Windows 8 is guaranteed to disappoint nearly everyone” – InfoWorld

Bad” – The Register

Droves of Windows users have started looking at Linux as an alternative. My article “How to install Ubuntu alongside Windows 8” has over 10,000 views every week. Potentially tens of thousands of people looking to leave Microsoft every week or at least considering the idea of another operating system.

Windows 8 however, is not the worst thing to come out of Microsoft. That accolade goes to Windows Vista Home Basic.

In 2007 my wife bought a new laptop. It wasn’t cheap. The laptop was a Samsung R20 which boasted 1 GB RAM and a 100 GB hard drive. The operating system on the laptop was Windows Vista Home Basic.

I don’t know who was most to blame for this travesty of a computer. Was it Microsoft for providing the most inept, watered down, impossible to use piece of rubbish or was it Samsung for providing a laptop not even capable of running the most inept, watered down, impossible to use, piece of rubbish.

Vista had only just been released and there was clearly a rush by the computer manufacturers to get Vista on their machines to make them sell better.

The truth is that this sorry piece of equipment would have been much better with Windows XP on it. It is woefully short on specifications to run Windows Vista.

1 GB RAM should have been ok back in 2007 but that 1 GB incorporated 256 GB of built in graphics. I upgraded the RAM to 2 GB which made it slightly better but this machine is poor, very poor. Samsung should never have gone on to be more successful after releasing this sorry, good for nothing hunk of junk.

Windows Vista was bad enough with its User Account Control (UAC) system which forced you to type your password in for almost everything you did and at least this was substantially improved after the service packs were released.

The annoying thing for me is that you hear Windows users say the statement “But Windows just works” when you get into any kind of discussion about operating systems. Really? Then you were never unfortunate enough to have a computer running Windows Vista Home Basic.

Windows Vista Home Basic does not have any software for burning discs. If you want to burn a disc you either have to buy disc burning software or download a freeware package off the internet. Most Linux distros have a disc burning tool installed by default.

Windows Vista Home Basic does not have a tool for creating a system image. On a machine so poor security wise, there wasn’t even a method for creating a system image. The only protection you have against failure under Home Basic is your own wits and the system recovery point.

Anybody who used Windows in the past knows that the system recovery point would often become infected on friends and families machines.

Note that whilst Vista was bad, this article is specifically pointing out how bad Windows Vista Home Basic is.

No method for burning discs and no method for backing up the operating system. What about going online? To be fully protected from nasties on Windows you need to install a firewall and anti-virus software.

That operating system that just works requires you to go and pay more money so that you don’t get a virus. Of course you can go online and download free antivirus software but that means going online unprotected whilst you go and get protection.

The free antivirus and firewall developers aren’t exactly providing perfect solutions either. Try installing free antivirus software without getting a toolbar added to your browser and your home page changed.

So what did you get with Windows Vista Home Basic? Internet Explorer 7. I remember a time when everybody wrote web pages to conform to Internet Explorer and then wrote hacks to work with other browsers. God, those days were fun.

As well as Internet Explorer 7 you are given Windows Media Player which was at best ok.

In Vista Home Basic there is no office suite, not even the decidedly average Microsoft Works. Games? Minesweeper (yawn), Solitaire (yawn). Those games were there from Windows 3.1.

There is a Wikipedia page that covers the criticism of Vista very well.

So what is the point of this article? Telling people something that they already knew or is irrelevant to them because they long since moved on from Vista.

There is a lot of coverage in the press at the moment due to the fact that support is being discontinued on Windows XP. What nobody mentions is that there are thousands of people that bought laptops and desktops in the late noughties with Windows Vista on it.

How many people were sold these awful machines with Windows Vista Home Basic pre-installed? If you were really unlucky like me then you were not just given Windows Vista Home Basic but it is an OEM version.

The point of this article is to tell all those people that are running Windows Vista and especially those running Windows Vista Home Basic that there is a solution. There is a way that you can install an operating system in just a few easy steps which will rid you of this diseased mess.

In the next couple of weeks I will be running a series of articles showing how to install an operating system that will work on most machines capable of running Windows Vista. I guarantee that it is easy to install and you will not need to learn any command line options. (A myth perpetuated around the Windows world is that you need to be proficient in shell scripting to use Linux).

All you need to do is bookmark this site or subscribe to this blog by entering your email address into the box on the right hand side.

It is sad to think that there is a generation of people whose first computer came with Microsoft Vista Home Basic and now the new generation of computers being built comes with Windows 8.


  1. I've never had Vista on a computer that I purchased. I traded a friend computer services for a HP DC5800 It came with Vista Business. It has 2 gb ram 80 gb hd. I purchased Windows 7 Pro from Ebay. I also have dual boot with Xubuntu 13.10 on this computer. I'm very happy with Windows 7 pro. Its not my main computer. I mainly use to host a network drive (usb Toshiba hd 500gb).

  2. I've used Windows Vista since it first came out. It was buggy at first, just like every other Microsoft releases. Everyone bitches & gripes at first because of the numerous bugs, but after a couple of years, a combination of learning workarounds & improvements through updates and service packs, the version becomes workable. This is true all the way back to Windows 3.1.

    Vista stunk at first, I'll grant you that, but it was no worse than XP at first, which everyone hated in the beginning. After a couple of years, Vista greatly improved, but by that time Vista bashing became so popular, no one seemed to notice.

    I wrestled with XP for years, both as a system administrator and on my personal machine. It could really stink if you were trying to set up a RAID array with an add on card. I spent months trying to get that to work. XP was terrible in recovery, & Vista was a great improvement, a feature I've used many times with great relief!

    But I suppose since everyone "agrees" that Vista sucks, they must be right. Otherwise, they wouldn't agree with everyone else, would they?

    I'm migrating to Linux now, because, basically, Microsuck, like all monopolies, is incredibly bad at giving the customer what they really want. MS has always sucked at providing the customer with a lean, stable, fast operating system, & because of their culture, probably always will.

    Instead of whether one operating system is the worst, the comparison would make more sense if it compared families of operating systems, MS compared to Linux, Mac OS, Solaris, etc.

  3. The extremely bad version of Vista couldn't be worse than the extreme bad version of Windows 7. With Windows 7 Starter you couldn't even change your wallpaper without a hack.

  4. Being a user of Linux (Ubuntu 8 to 12, current versions of Mint and Pinguy), Mac OS (from 9.0 to 10.7.5), and Windows (from 3 to 7)…

    Windows ME was the worst of the bunch. It maintained a level in instability that made it frustrating to use for anything beyond the basics–and even the basics (music & videos on Media center, web browsing on Exploder) were worse than Microsoft's average poor fair in those fields.

    Windows Vista was resource heavy. While the bugs and issues were for the main remediated, as an operating system it demands such a large share of system resources that it is difficult for computers with single-core processors and/or less than 2GB of RAM to operating smoothly–and often demanded high computer specs for games running on that system vs. running the same game on XP or 7. In saying that, I never used the original release of Vista Home Edition, but still had problems with service pack 1 that came with anew computer. I had used XP Home Edition from its first release, though at the time, most of my computer use was for university work, and I was primarily using Mac OS.

    The main problem with Vista, and Windows 8, was/is that the Microsoft programs packaged with them had issues. Explorer (which exists not because we like it, but because Microsoft continues to ship it), Media Center, and Office all had issues which further added to frustrations with users. And, with Vista's resource demand, for gamers and graphics users, Vista was a big disappointment that denied users some of their programs (or, demanded users upgrade their computers).

    Apple hasn't been without its problems. The original release of 10.7 was also a bloated. It takes my MacBook four times longer to load up 10.7 than it does for 10.6, and has 10.7 maintained issues with not reawakening from sleep-mode on laptops from time to time when opening them from a closed position (a problem I never had with other versions of OSX.

    In using Ubuntu, my problem with that Linux distro is that it feels bulky and unattractive from a visual perspective. Despite trying many times to use it, I personally never felt "natural" in using it, even for basics such as word processing. Hence, Mint and Pinguy in my search for a more attractive 'out-of-the-box' Linux.

    • Explorer gets worse with every version. I hate the fact that when you work your way down the tree you want to go back up a level so hit the back button thinking that this will perform that task but no, it takes you back through your history.

      For example you open c:usersgarypictureshalloween and you want to go back up to c:usersgarypictures. You hit the little arrow and it doesn't take you back to c:userspictureshalloween, it takes you to whatever the last folder you were looking in ie c:windows. There are also too many hidden keyboard shortcuts

  5. Ubuntu is pretty good command line. I use to develop and host websites. Ubuntu 12.04 unity has to rank as one of the worst desktop experiences ever. I get sound skipping all the time. Pulseaudio arrghghgh. One time I updated the os and when I restarted I couldn't log in anymore. If it wasn't for my spare windows 7 machine lying around I wouldn't be able to look up the solution.

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