Windows Vista’s market share is growing. After seeing 8.1, I know why

I installed Windows Vista last week. I need a legal copy of a supported version of Windows to use to VPN in to work and run the corporate Citrix client. Vista fit the bill. It’s better than 8.1, and it’s supported until April 2017. I always hated Vista, but 8 and 8.1 made me realize it could have been a lot worse, and on recent hardware Vista does OK. It still prompts you for admin rights too much and too slowly and makes you work too hard to click yes, but at least you can find stuff.

Apparently I’m not the only one thinking that way–last quarter, both Windows 8 and 8.1 lost market share, while Windows 7 gained 0.67 percent and Vista gained 0.1 percent.

I’m not sure I recommend paying much for a copy of Vista to run for just two years, but if you have a disused copy laying around and you need a Windows box for occasional use, it’s an option.

Or if you find a Vista PC at a thrift store, garage or estate sale and it has a COA on it but the hard drive is gone, don’t fret. You can reinstall Vista without the original installation media or the restore disc from the manufacturer. Pick up a Vista Anytime Upgrade CD from Amazon for $10, boot off it, enter the CD key off the sticker, and the version of Vista that matches the key will install from it. The brand of machine doesn’t matter, whether it’s an Acer, Compaq, Dell, Emachines, Gateway, HP, or another brand. The OEM may want $99 to send you a new CD, so the Vista Anytime disc is a much more affordable alternative.

Living with Vista in 2014

If you perform a fresh install today, you’ll need to immediately download and install service pack 1 and service pack 2–maddeningly, they aren’t cumulative. If you don’t, automatic updates will fail. The other things you’ll want are Microsoft Security Essentials, .NET Framework 4.5.2, and EMET 5.0.

It will take a few hours to download and install all of this, but there isn’t a lot of user interaction required.

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