Windows Vista

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For pre-reset history and builds, see Windows Longhorn.
Windows Vista
Windows Vista Logo.png
Microsoft Windows Vista
Preliminary name
Kernel version NT 6.0
CPU architecture x86, x64
Release date 30 January 2007
Support end Ended on 11 April 2017
Preceded by Windows XP
Succeeded by Windows 7

Windows Vista is an operating system developed by Microsoft, released worldwide on January 30, 2007. Prior to its official announcement on July 22, 2005, it was known by its codename, Windows "Longhorn".

Development of the operating system spanned approximately five years, starting in early 2001. Over the course of this time period, the product was first codenamed Whistler+ (with some sources stating Idaho as a possible codename), and then Longhorn in May 2001. The first builds of the operating system known to use the Longhorn codename were compiled in May, 2002.

Initially envisioned as a minor upgrade to Windows XP, Microsoft later characterized "Longhorn" as a complete overhaul of the Windows operating system. One of the largest changes slated for "Longhorn" was pervasive use of managed code.

While in its earlier stages of development, "Longhorn" suffered from many problems relating to reliability and stability. This was due not only to the premature technology on which the operating system was based, but also because of the way new features were introduced and implemented. For this reason, the development of the operating system was "reset", with a preliminary build, 3790.1232.winmain.040819-1629 being compiled on August 19, 2004. Although this build is not known to contain any code from "Longhorn", it did include the "Longhorn" End User License Agreement (EULA), a testament to the build's authenticity.

Builds compiled after the development reset are based on Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1. For builds compiled before, the codebase is explained here.

During Beta 1 development, Microsoft named the operating system Windows Vista. The new name was chosen to improve the product's image and reputation, and to reflect the new capabilities of the operating system.

A total of two Service Packs were released for the Windows Vista operating system. Service Pack 1 was made available to MSDN subscribers on Febuary 15, 2008, and was released to the Microsoft Download Center and Windows Update on March 18, 2008. Service Pack 2 was released to manufacturing on April 28, 2009, and released to the Microsoft Download Center and Windows Update on May 26, 2009. In addition, Microsoft released the Platform Update for Windows Vista on October 27, 2009, which was comprised of major new Windows 7 components and updated runtime libraries. The Platform Update requires Service Pack 2 prior to installation.


Windows Vista came in many editions. Unlike Windows XP, there were no special edition for Media Center and 64-bit capability. Windows Vista also did not have an embedded version.

  • Starter: This edition was intended for emerging markets and low-cost PCs. As in XP, the 3-program limit was there, and only 1 GB RAM could be used. Other software restrictions applied as well. This is the only edition of Windows Vista not to have a 64-bit version.
  • Home Basic: Found in low cost to mid-end computers, this version of Windows Vista does not fully have Windows Aero (though it has DWM), and hence does not have effects like transparency and 3D Flip. Windows Media Center is not included as well. However, Parental Controls is included. The hardware limits are much higher, and there is no 3-program limit as in Starter.
  • Home Premium: The mid-end edition of Windows Vista, this version included the full suite of Aero features and also Windows Media Center. It also included Premium Games like Inkball.
  • Business: The business oriented variant of Windows Vista, it contains several features like full RDP(client/host) capability, Group Policy and domain join ability. However, some "consumer" features like Windows Media Center and Parental Controls are not included, and Premium Games are disabled by default.
  • Ultimate: The top consumer variant of Windows Vista, it is a merge of the features containing on Windows Vista Home Premium and Business. Bitlocker is included in this version.
  • Enterprise: The top business variant of Windows Vista. It is like Ultimate, but without Windows Media Center and includes enterprise-specific tools.

Some of the features like Aero required higher hardware specifications to properly work on Windows Vista.

New features

Windows Vista was a revolutionary upgrade from Windows XP.

  1. Windows Aero introduced, setting the framework for the UI that would be carried into future Windows versions including Windows 7 and later. Consequently, DWM was also introduced. New Aero features like Flip 3D were also introduced.
  2. The Start Menu was given a facelift, also adding new features in the process like integration of Windows Search.
  3. DirectX 10 was introduced.
  4. User Account Control was introduced, increasing security significantly while also proving to be more convenient to standard users.
  5. Windows Media Center was improved, and is now available in more editions instead of being confined to a single version in Windows XP.
  6. Internet Explorer 7 was also introduced, introducing features like 256 bit encryption, tabbed mode and protected mode.
  7. Windows Update was integrated into the control panel, eliminating the need to use Internet Explorer because of its prior reliance on an ActiveX control to use all the features of Windows Update in previous versions.
  8. Control Panel was improved.
  9. Windows Experience Index was introduced, providing a benchmark for system performance.
  10. Gadgets were also introduced, along with an API for third party development and Windows Sidebar to house the gadgets.
  11. Hybrid sleep was introduced mainly for desktops, providing the best of both worlds of sleep and hibernation.
  12. The installation routine was redesigned, leading to better speeds, and features like rollback were also properly implemented.
  13. New games were introduced, like InkBall, Purble Place and Chess. Existing games were also improved.
  14. Windows Ultimate Extras were introduced for Ultimate users, enabling these users to enjoy additional games, features and services.
  15. Parental Controls were introduced.
  16. Windows Taskbar was improved, now showing a live thumbnail preview on hover of any program on the taskbar with the help of Aero.
  17. Windows Explorer was greatly improved, now properly showing file transfer progress, along with a redesign of the UI.
  18. Windows Defender was integrated into the Windows Vista OS, providing protection against spyware.
  19. Windows Media Player 10 was introduced, introducing a significant upgrade over Windows Media Player 9.
  20. The Login screen was improved significantly.
  21. Windows Anytime Upgrade was introduced, providing an easy way for users to upgrade between Windows versions.

Features removed/degraded

  1. The Introduction of Aero meant that Luna, which was the default theme of Windows XP, was removed.
  2. DirectX 9 performance was degraded compared to Windows XP.
  3. The system requirements were significantly raised to 800MHz(Windows XP around 300 MHz) processor with 512 MB(64 MB) RAM and 16 GB(2 GB) of HDD. This could well be the biggest reason for the failure of Windows Vista.
  4. Pinball was removed.
  5. Windows Vista can now be installed only on a NTFS hard drive, dropping support for FAT and FAT32.


Build 3790.1232

  1. The first build after development reset, almost fully looks like Windows XP SP2.
  2. Windows Server 2003 beta-related notice window that would appear upon logging on.

Build 5000

  1. The first build after development reset to have kernel 6.0.

Build 5001

  1. Changes wallpaper to Bliss with Longhorn bull.

Build 5048

  1. A new bootscreen, wallpaper and Aero theme
  2. Some changes in Explorer
  3. The first build to use BOOTMGR as the default bootloader, but still includes NTLDR as an alternative way to boot.
  4. Introduced Red Screen of Death.

Build 5098

  1. New Setup UI
  2. Major changes in Aero theme
  3. Major changes in Control Panel
  4. Some improvements in Explorer
  5. Luna theme is now fully removed

Build 5112 (Beta 1)

  1. Internet Explorer 7 Beta was introduced
  2. Windows Backup Beta and Program Compatibility Wizard are introduced
  3. User Account Control was introduced
  4. Changed watermark to "Windows Vista (TM) Beta 1"

Build 5212

  1. Reintroduced Sidebar, but it now runs in its own process rather than explorer.exe (which caused memory leaks in the former Longhorn project).

Build 5219

  1. Major changes to Games
  2. Some new applications in the Control Panel
  3. Minor UI changes to the Help and Support
  4. Windows Calendar, Windows Photo Library, Sticky Notes and Windows Journal were introduced

Build 5231

  1. Some changes to the Setup
  2. New System Properties introduced
  3. New network apps in Control Panel
  4. Minor changes in other apps

Build 5259

  1. New Setup UI, including the OOBE
  2. Start menu layout is fully changed
  3. Introduced People Near Me, Performance Center, Personalization, Speech Recognition, Windows AntiSpyware and Memory Diagnostics Tool
  4. Windows Media Player is updated to version 11
  5. Library in Explorer
  6. Outlook Express is now Windows Mail
  7. Some changes in Windows Calendar

Build 5270

  1. New logon screen
  2. Aero theme is updated
  3. App icons are updated
  4. Windows Collaboration introduced
  5. Antispyware is now Windows Defender
  6. Windows Media Player and Media Center were updated

Build 5284

  1. Updated some icons
  2. The last build to have at least one reference to Longhorn.

Build 5308

  1. New Setup UI and bootscreen
  2. Welcome Center at the startup
  3. Some visual changes in Control Panel, Internet Explorer, Windows Calender and Windows Media Center
  4. Introduced Backup and Restore, Color Management, Default Programs, Disk Defragmenter and Sidebar Properties in Control Panel

Build 5310

  1. Changed a bit boot screen.

Build 5329

  1. Reverted boot screen to from build 5308.
  2. New product keys.

Build 5337

  1. New Paint interface.

Build 5342

  1. Minor visual changes
  2. New items on Sidebar

Build 5355

  1. Aero has also been updated.
  2. This build uses the final banners in "winver".

Build 5356

  1. Bugfix build from build 5355.

Build 5360

  1. Setup has been given another update and now shows the progress during the first stage of setup.

Build 5365

  1. Sidebar is enabled by default
  2. Some changes in Setup and OOBE
  3. Device Manager introduced
  4. Major updates to Explorer and Sidebar
  5. Internet Explorer calls itself 7+.

Build 5371

  1. OOBE skips the computer name and time zone steps as they have been answered earlier in the OEM setup at the start of installation.
  2. Timebomb was extended.

Build 5378

  1. This build has an updated setup that removes the progress bar in the setup window and resembles closely to the RTM.
  2. The Sidebar is also transparent by default without the need to enable Aero.

Build 5381

  1. Some changes to Setup, Windows Media Player and Windows Mail.
  2. The two placeholder avatars in the OOBE has been replaced with the final icons.

Build 5384 (Beta 2)

Build 5435

  1. Increased the size of the Start orb during the boot to the login screen.
  2. Added Windows Vista logo with SKU on the login screen.
  3. Slightly changed Control Panel.
  4. Slightly altered Windows Media Center.
  5. New icons.

Build 5456

  1. Some changes in the UI.
  2. This build includes the Windows Aero cursors, but aren't enabled by default.
  3. The Aero theme has also been given an update to have thicker borders.
  4. The setup also gained a new step where it checks the performance of the drivers, especially the graphic adapters and DirectX compatibility, thus giving the result of Windows Experience Index.

Build 5461

  1. This build is given some new messages during the first login boot besides "Welcome" such as preparing the desktop.

Build 5466

  1. This build adds the "Busy" cursor on the login screen and improves the Windows Experience Index check of setup.
  2. Aero Basic gets updated in this build, the color changing from silver to sky blue.

Build 5469

  1. This build updates the default background to the Release Candidate canyon.
  2. Changed the shutdown sound to the RTM logoff sound.
  3. The font on the login screen was also changed to be larger and in the font used in the RTM.
  4. Uses the Aero cursors by default.

Build 5471

  1. This build changes the login message to "Preparing your desktop...". The Windows Experience Index check also has gotten an update.

Build 5472

  1. New logon screen and OOBE

Build 5477

  1. RSS Feeds gadget has been slightly changed.

Build 5487

  1. Major updates to the UI.

Build 5491

  1. New boot screen.
  2. New OOBE.
  3. Changed the shutdown sound back to the logoff sound used in the RTM.
  4. The shutdown sound was changed to the RTM logoff sound again.
  5. RSS Feeds gadget has been changed again to the one seen in RC1, and also renamed to "Feed Headlines".

Build 5492

  1. Bugfix build from build 5491.

Build 5536

  1. Minor changes in Windows Mail. Starting this build there's no major visual changes and only bug fixes.
  2. Windows Orb during the login boot has also decreased in size and the login screen has been altered a bit to resemble the RTM.

Build 5600 (RC 1)

Build 5718

  1. Changed a bit boot screen to match this from RTM.
  2. New OOBE.

Build 5738

  1. Changed an icon of View Headlines on the sidebar.

Build 5744 (RC 2)

Build 5758

  1. Removed timebomb.
  2. Can be activated.
  3. User can install any language pack from RTM.
  4. No longer uses watermark on the desktop.

Build 5824

  1. Contains a bug on setup, where OOBE hangs after clicking "Start" on the Thank you screen if upgraded from an earlier version of Windows, and therefore you must terminate msoobe.exe via Command Prompt to start this build normally.

Build 5840

  1. Fixed a upgrade bug.
  2. Minor changes from pervious builds.

Build 6000 (RTM)

  1. New default wallpaper and changed a bit wallpapers.
  2. Removed Windows XP sounds.


  • No information available
  • Existence doubtful
  • Information or pictures available
  • Leaked or released


Beta 1

Pre-Beta 2 (Beta 2 Fork)

Community Tech Preview 2 (Beta 2 Fork)

Beta 2 (Beta 2 Fork)

Beta 2

NOTE: Some of the earliest builds listed may not actually be Beta 2 builds (although still obviously within the Beta 2 fork), so their exact status is still to confirm.

Beta 2

Pre-Release Candidate 1

Release Candidate 1

Pre-Release Candidate 2

Build 5700

Release Candidate 2



Desktop with Welcome Center


Service Pack 1

Service Pack 2

See Also

External links