As an evolutionary release over build 3683, it contained a number of small improvements, including a modified blue "Plex" theme and a new, simplified Windows Image-based installer that operates in graphical mode from the outset, and completed an install of the operating system in approximately one third the time of Windows XP on the same hardware.
The release of Windows Vista came more than five years after the introduction of its predecessor, Windows XP, the longest time span between successive releases of Microsoft Windows desktop operating systems.
It was succeeded by Windows 7, which was released to manufacturing on 22 July 2009 and released worldwide for retail on 22 October 2009.
After several months of relatively little news or activity from Microsoft with Longhorn, Microsoft released Build 4008, which had made an appearance on the Internet around 28 February 2003.
It was also privately handed out to a select group of software developers.
Gradually, "Longhorn" assimilated many of the important new features and technologies slated for Blackcomb, resulting in the release date being pushed back several times in 3 years.
In some builds of Longhorn, their license agreement said "For the Microsoft product codenamed "Whistler"".
Criticism of Windows Vista has targeted its high system requirements, its more restrictive licensing terms, the inclusion of a number of, then, new DRM technologies aimed at restricting the copying of protected digital media, lack of compatibility with some pre-Vista hardware and software, longer boot time, and the number of authorization prompts for User Account Control.
As a result of these and other issues, Windows Vista had seen initial adoption and satisfaction rates lower than Windows XP.
The most notable visual and functional difference, however, came with Windows Explorer.