Windows 0.0x launched on December 26, 1982. I wonder if its creator, Bill Gates, has a favorite version? One might assume it would have been Windows 95 – he’s probably still proud of the Start menu, basking in the billions of dollars he made when Microsoft stock blew up the market. Maybe today he uses a Mac at all… One thing’s for sure: with the release of Windows 11, it’s time to look back at the entire 35-year history of Windows. Each of the versions has its pros and cons, which will allow us to build a gradation: from worst to best.
13 Windows 8 (2012)
Objectively, this version can be called the most disastrous of all. Its imperfection is especially emphasized by the previous version – Windows 7, against which the eight had a lot of flaws. However, this can be quite logically justified. The early 2010s are a period of massive and rapid change in the technology industry. This was facilitated by the success of iPhone and iPad smartphones and tablets, which turned the world of users upside down, calling for the complete abandonment of personal computers. The advantage is quite obvious – the touch screen, because it’s like something out of the movie "Back to the Future". Microsoft decided to catch the "apple hype" and use it for its own purposes, which is why Windows 8 for desktops and touchscreen laptops appeared, which did not succeed.nowhere at all.
Despite the authority of the company, Microsoft Store integration also failed. In 2013, Windows 8.1 was released, in which the company tried to fix holes in a rapidly sinking boat, but they failed to satisfy the needs of users.
Statistically speaking, by the spring of 2015, right before the release of Windows 10, 8 and 8.1 combined accounted for only 14% of the PC market. Windows 10 was able to break through this ceiling in just a year.
12 Windows Me (2000)
Windows Millennium Edition (millennium edition) – sounds cool, right? Windows ME was supposed to be the successor to Windows 95/98. But it turned out that instead of advantages, it collected all the errors and problems of these versions, combining them into one failed operating system. In practice, it looked much the same as Windows 98, and none of the new features could compensate for the infamous instability, and limiting user access to DOS (floppy disk management) caused a lot of resentment. It was hoped that the next versions would not continue to drag Microsoft to the bottom.
11 Windows Vista (2006)
Perhaps some people look back at Vista with sympathy these days, because you can’t say that it deserved the ton of negativity that was dumped on it. Of course, as always, there were some painful performance issues at launch. Vista was more demanding than Windows XP, and some systems that promised to work well with Vista didn’t ship it out at all. In theory, of course, it was possible to turn off all the graphic goodies and effects, such as Aero transparency and somehow work, but this was not what Microsoft promised. The problem is that Vista was way ahead of XP and needed brand new drivers that couldn’t keep up.
As a result: some equipment simply did not work and many video games slowed down on Vista, safely continuing to work on XP.
Also not to mention the wonderful User Account Control pop-ups – this caused a wild annoyance. No one understood why Vista would take up the whole screen to ask the user "Are you sure you want this?" every time he tries to change the settings in the control panel or start the next program.
However, along with all the shortcomings, Vista introduced a huge number of new features and looked more modern – a small step for the OS and a big step for all mankind. True, on the other side of the scale were games that didn’t work well, a printer that didn’t work, and pop-ups that caused the monitor to be thrown out of the window irresistibly.
And yet, most of Vista’s fundamental improvements are the foundation of Windows 7, which shows that Microsoft sometimes listens to users.
10-8. Windows 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 (1985, 1987, 1990)
At first, Windows was not particularly popular. As a graphical overlay for MS-DOS, it was limited in its capabilities. You don’t have to dig deep: in Windows 1.0, windows couldn’t even overlap. Yes, and the same Macintosh OS was much more reliable in many ways.
The scales tipped in favor of Microsoft after the introduction of Windows 2.0, where users first got acquainted with such familiar things as Microsoft Word, Excel and Paint. Also appeared such useful things as a calculator, calendar and solitaire, so that office workers around the world could keep themselves busy with something.
The advent of Windows 3.0 fundamentally changed the situation. The Troika was also based on DOS, which had to suffer a little to use some programs and run most games, which did not prevent it from becoming a hit – sales amounted to more than 10 million copies. The graphical interface has been greatly improved and the ability to perform more than one action thanks to intelligent memory management. In general, the whole thing is in the scarf.
7 Windows 95 (1995)
Was the start menu the biggest advancement in computer user interface since clickable icons? Obviously yes, because it has become a symbol for subsequent versions of the OS. Windows 95 is indeed a quantum leap in computer usage, but complex enough that it required a whole marketing campaign where hot sitcom stars explained in lengthy videos where to press and how it even works.
Much of what Microsoft introduced in Windows 95 is still key to PCs today. Again, remember the Start menu, taskbar and system tray in the lower right corner. These fundamentals turned out to be untouchable even for Microsoft itself, which tried to change them a couple of times. Windows 95 created the perfect combination of features and simplicity, paving the way for future versions of Windows.
The fact that people liked it is confirmed by our favorite statistics. By mid-1999, Windows 95 still commanded almost 60% of the PC market, generating about $6 billion in revenue for Microsoft in 1995. In 1997, this number increased to more than 11 billion evergreens.
Windows 95 certainly had its faults and was prone to lag, but that was the price of its innovation. It can be called the most important version of Windows ever. However, subsequent versions show how quickly technology has evolved over the next five years, in which Microsoft simply made what was in Windows 95, only better.
6 Windows 98 (1998)
With the advent of Windows 98, the world was introduced to Internet Explorer version 4.0. Back in 1995, Microsoft just hinted that the browser could actually be cool, but failed to finish Internet Explorer by the time Windows 95 was launched. Still, this was rather a plus, since Windows 98 was generally better built to connect to the Internet.
Windows 98 looked much the same, but included some important features such as the Windows driver module and support for the increasingly popular USB.
5 Windows 2000 (2000)
In 2000, Microsoft released Windows Me (built on 95/98) and Windows 2000, built on Windows New Technology. You can spend half your life trying to understand the differences between the versions, there were so few of them. The most significant difference is that in the future Windows XP took the Windows NT kernel. This marked the end of Windows built on top of MS-DOS.
Windows 2000 was very similar to versions 95 and 98, but was somewhat more stable and had features that kept it relevant and usable for many years.
Windows 2000 supported a wide range of USB devices, and DirectX 7 was available at launch, later updated to 9.0c, which kept games on this OS relevant until 2010. Windows 2000 added Event Viewer, a syslog tool that, of course, few people have (and still do).
4 Windows 10 (2015)
It was a breath of fresh air after the failed G8 on all fronts. Microsoft, of course, couldn’t help but make a few mistakes, like the privacy settings being overridden at launch is still a bright spot on their reputation.
There are also some menus that have not changed since 2005 – not solid. Despite this, it was still pleasant to use the top ten: the speed of work, a relatively clean interface, and we don’t forget about the Start menu. The ability to change the color of windows in general causes a feeling of omnipotence in the user – how not to love it? Of course, the work on high-resolution graphics adaptation and scaling that works without too much fuss is valuable. Against this background, even the Microsoft Store, which was still "not so hot", did not spoil the general opinion much.
By the way, in this version, it finally became possible to turn your laptop into a full-fledged Wi-Fi router by pressing just two buttons, without resorting to third-party software and two shamans with a tambourine.
3 Windows 3.1 (1992)
Windows 3.0 was the first version of Microsoft’s operating system that made a breakthrough in sales and combined a large number of improvements over its predecessors. Today, an update like Windows 3.1 will be just another update to Windows 10, not a noteworthy standalone launch. However, in the early 90s, Windows 3.1 received its own batch of floppy disks and established itself as the best version of Windows until 1995.
The Macintosh was still a prestigious competitor, but in the era of Windows 3.1, IBM personal computers quickly became cheaper, making them affordable for anyone. Version 3.1 was a nice upgrade to the 3.0 interface as it included several key new features such as support for a bunch of new fonts, the ability to create documents right on the desktop, and multimedia support so users can play music files without special software.
2 Windows XP (2001)
There is probably no version of Windows more evocative than XP. This version was really in demand, selling approximately 500 million copies before Microsoft stopped supporting it in 2014. For millions of people, XP was also likely the gateway to the Internet in the booming online era. AIM, MSN Messenger, Limewire, Winamp, and Myspace are keynotes of the XP era, though most of them weren’t really OS-bound at all.
Antitrust lawsuits came in full swing, causing Microsoft to cut some of its software out of the finished version of XP, but the small-timers cheated by offering free or incredibly cheap disks with builds of software that allowed the average computer user to do everything he wanted. Windows Movie Maker and Windows Media Player were a beacon of light for the time, and DVDs could be burned by simply dragging and dropping files from File Explorer.
The constant stamp of updates has made the OS even better, fixing bugs and adding new features such as USB 2.0 support and Wi-Fi security modes. All this greatly extended the life of Windows XP (probably much longer than Microsoft wanted), making it almost certainly the most used Windows. It was a cozier and nicer version than any other ever made…until 2009.
1 Windows 7 (2009)
Meet the crowning achievement of the engineering genius Bill Gates. What’s more, this OS literally saved the PC world from Vista’s nasty user account management. It was convenient. It was stable.
Finally, Microsoft has made the OS more comfortable and easier to use, without negating the company’s many years of experience. The Aero still looks good ten years later, even when the modern design has moved to a modern style with lots of shadows.
A lot of micro-tweaks corrected old Windows features: pinning items to the taskbar gave us beautiful and convenient icons, tabbed browser windows and file explorer in one place helped to organize work. Libraries have made it easier to group files in File Explorer to get rid of attachment to the old settings of the My Documents folder. Perhaps this is the best feature change Microsoft has seen in 20 years.
Some of the features that made Windows 7 better than previous ones were already in Vista, but Microsoft did a great job of making this diamond a diamond. A simple press of the "Windows" key and "Enter" made it easy to launch any program, and new keyboard shortcuts to speed up the work have become part of our daily lives. If Microsoft went the right way and Windows 10 was just an improved version of Windows 7, everyone would just nod their heads in agreement.