Is Windows Vista the biggest PR failure in Microsoft's history? I don't remember the criticism being this bad a year after XP was launched, nor any of its predecessors. Of course, slagging off Microsoft's latest operating system launch is nothing new, but according to over 3,000 people who answered our recent poll, the disapproval has reached new extremes. Twice as many of those who responded would rather have XP installed on their new PC or laptop than Vista.

The long development cycle for the latter has surely had a big hand in the widespread criticism. People hated Windows ME, for example, too, but it was launched at a time when Microsoft was releasing operating systems far more regularly. After the five-year build up to Vista people were expecting something really special, and they just didn't get it.

A number of Vista's biggest selling points have failed to excite users. The flashy 3D interface may have impressed initially, but many have been left wondering whether it's a worthy use of the extra processing grunt required to power it. Microsoft also spent five years telling us that Vista would be its most secure operating system ever, but inclusions such as User Account Control (UAC) have been derided as being too intrusive and, ultimately, a real nuisance.

Microsoft admitted in the summer that Vista sales had failed to match its anticipations, and it increased its projections for XP sales as a result. Later, the company was forced to extend the life of the latter OS, you'll now be able to buy XP on a new machine until at least next June. Furthermore, Microsoft has made it easier for Vista users to downgrade to XP – is that a new low for a new Microsoft operating system?

Take a look at the user comments (at the bottom of the page) here and here for more feedback from users.

But is it really that bad? I can see the argument that upgrading a current PC from XP to Vista isn't really worth the outlay or the bother, but on a new PC?

Coming back to our poll – 2,112 of the 4,208 who had responded to our poll by this morning would actually purchase an XP machine rather than a Vista machine if they needed to buy a new system now – even though Microsoft support would end sooner and they'd be missing out on benefits such as faster startups, resuming from sleep in seconds, ReadyBoost, the integration of Windows Media Center, impressive bundled applications etc.

Just over 1,000 would ignore the anti-Vista movement and pick a computer with Microsoft's latest and greatest OS should they need to buy a new PC or laptop today. (For the record, 724 would buy a Mac, and 337 would go for Linux. We wouldn't normally gloss over the PC versus Mac versus Linux debate, but we are focusing on Vista here, after all).

Let us know what you think – has the Vista-bashing got out of hand?