Weekend Question: Do you have a favorite version of Windows?

PCG Jody

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Dec 9, 2019
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I ask the PCG staff a regular Weekend Question and post the answers on the site. If you'd like to throw in an answer here, I'll squeeze the best into the finished article!

This week's question is: Do you have a favorite version of Windows?

The preview build of Windows 11 is already available for Windows Insiders, but instead of looking forward let's look back. What's your favorite Microsoft proprietary graphical OS? Are you old enough to remember 3.x introducing PC users to the wonders of a GUI, and Solitaire? Do you stan for Windows 95 thanks to the start menu and taskbar? Windows XP, but only with Service Pack 2? Windows 7 for rescuing us from Vista?
 

Colif

Moderator
lol.

First windows I used was Windows 3.1 for workgroups

I don't have favorite versions of windows, I instead have less favorite versions. The ones that didn't work so well for me because of hardware limitations I had at the time, Windows ME & Windows 8/8.1 are the 2 that come to mind. First was painful and second I just skipped. Unlike others, I didn't find Vista that bad but much of that came from having a PC that came with Vista and was powerful enough to last 8 years. It wasn't good enough for 8 so I just skipped it.

I don't cling to versions after a new one is announced, I just accept the changes (for most part) and go with flow. I don't understand the need to make X version of Windows look like Y, I can remember themes that used to make windows look like Apple and I never understood them either, if you want to use another OS just go do it.

Windows 11 is just windows 10 with a face lift. And finished features. But same could be said about every version of windows since Vista so no real change. They saw Bethesda can keep doing it with Skyrim, why not just put a new layer of paint on. No one will notice if its got rounded corners and a glass look... hmm, glass, wasn't that a Vista thing. Progress or recycling?
 

Brian Boru

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Aug 25, 2020
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I started with Win 3.0, but went back to the excellent XTree Gold due to constant Win crashes. 3.1 was a big improvement, and 3.11 too—been on Win ever since.

I have 2 favs, Win95 and Win7.

95 introduced a lot of what we still have:
Taskbar;
Multi-tasking;
Start menu;
Notification area.
It was the real start of Windows as the dominant OS.

Win7 is the only version of Windows I bought in advance of launch—there was a great deal of 3 copies for $150 if I recall correctly, and all the beta testers I knew were saying it was nearly flawless. So it proved, 7 is definitely the best-ever Windows launch.

Win7 highlights were:
Rock-solid stability out of the gate;
Pinning to Taskbar & Jump Lists;
Libraries;
Proper SSD support;
Problem Steps Recorder;
XP Mode.

Honorable mentions to 98SE, XP SP2, Win10—and the unsung hero Win 2000, a better XP than the early versions of XP.
 
Nov 27, 2020
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I started gaming with PC's back in the 1980s with MS-DOS (don't remember the version numbers), back when you often needed to create boot discs just to run games. Then moved on to Windows 3.1 around 1992, then on to Windows 95, 98, ME, skipped Windows 2000, then upgraded to Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, skipped 8.0/8.1, then finally Windows 10.

Of those versions, Windows 7 gave me the least problems when gaming, and was far less intrusive that Win 10. It would probably still be my favorite, but for 2 glaring issues: 1)It's no longer supported or updated by Microsoft, and 2)There are some games that now require Windows 10 to run. So it's far too limiting to use a PC with Windows 7 as an OS, though I do keep an older PC that I just use for backup storage that still runs Windows 7.

So my current favorite is Windows 10 which is on my current gaming PC. I've been able to get any game I've wanted to play to run, even games that are 10-20 years old (although some of those older games do require some tweaking or community patches to run well). My one major annoyance with Win 10 though, is how it updates without giving you any choice. Updates sometimes install junk in my task bar that I don't want, or at times can cause problems (an update a couple years ago completely borked my audio, took me hours to fix).

So while it's my current "favorite" OS, it comes with a big asterisk*. I wish I had more input as to what was actually installed and/or updated. I'll wait awhile on Windows 11 to see how it affects gaming, even if I miss the free upgrade.
 
Jan 14, 2020
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Windows was huge for those of us who used PC's before it. To be completely honest, though, I don't remember which version was my first, but I think it was 3.1.

Windows 10 is the only one that I have been sad to see leave, so I'll say 10 is my favorite. Unlike a lot of others, I never get pop-up ads or anything. It almost never crashes and launches quickly on my SSD (never thought I'd see that day). Just don't have any complaints right now. I even use Windows Defender as my anti-virus and have been pleased with its performance.

All that said, I'm fulling expecting Windows 11 to be an abomination.
 
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I've been using Windows since 3.11 and used every version except for 8, which I skipped. I don't have a favourite, but I will say that Windows ME was terrible. I'm pretty sure we averaged 5 blue screen of death a day. My brother actually managed to change the registry in such a way that it turned the screen red instead of blue (only took like 10 minutes after changing it to trigger the red screen of death). Of course he didn't really know what he was doing and so Windows wouldn't boot any more after that, but he'd gotten pretty proficient at reinstalling Windows at that point any way.

Windows Vista was also pretty bad. Not so bad that I switched back to Windows XP (though some of my friends did), but upgrading to Windows 7 was a great improvement.
 

Brian Boru

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Aug 25, 2020
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My one major annoyance with Win 10 though, is how it updates without giving you any choice
There's a trick if you want to hold off on Updates for a while, eg months—but I don't advise it despite the occasional annoyances.

Settings > Update & Security > Advanced options
Change the second option about 'metered connection' to 'On'—that should delay indefinitely, not sure how long as I only used it briefly 5 years ago.

There is also a 'Pause Updates' option at the bottom of that screen which allows delay up to a month.

What I do is image my C: drive—I use free Macrium Reflect—on the second Tuesday of every month, ie just before MS's main update run. If the updates ever cause me a problem, I'm less than 30 minutes from getting back to where I was. This is more robust than System Restore, altho that's pretty good too for smaller changes, installs etc.

The Windows versions I skipped were ME, Vista and 8—the reactions of early adopters were just too negative for all 3.
 
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Sep 21, 2020
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VISTA! It's the OS i ran my favorite game ever on.. SWG,

What ever version plays the game i wanna play works for me, but honestly vista just worked so well. I did not get it early, but in the end it worked. Then again everything since win 2k i've never had an issue, but then agian i run basically reference systems.

My favorite program on the other hand.. file manager rules!
 
Jul 11, 2021
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This is my first post, so, Hello everyone. My first PC build ran MS-DOS and I've used every version except for ME, 2000, Vista and 8. Anyway I'd have to say that my favorite version of Windows has to be XP followed by 8.1.
 
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Jul 11, 2021
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I'm actually really enjoying Windows 11 Home right now. I don't do many detailed or complex operations, so most of the shortcomings it has right now don't apply to/bother me, but I do hope they implement being able to display a folder's contents as a picture preview again. That's really the only thing that annoys me right now.
 
Jul 11, 2021
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what do you mean?

not in a hurry to get win 11 yet, although I know I could. Whats rush, its just win 10 with a new UI.
I knew that wasn't worded very clearly. Haha

So for example, all of the folders in Windows 10 had the option to look like the folder on the left. However, that option is gone in Windows 11 as far as I can see, and all folders (even without subfolders) look like the one on the right. Now obviously they are a different style with Microsoft's UI update and the whatnot, but the idea is the same.

 

Colif

Moderator
Is that on desktop or in file explorer?

mine look different to the left on win 10 21H1



look same in file exploder and desktop

its possible its just a work in progress, They haven't finished playing with interface yet.

they have changed shape of the folder, even the empty ones look different, tab is on bottom of win 10 folders, top of win 11.
 
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Zloth

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Jan 13, 2020
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Gonna miss that feature if it goes away. It's not just images that appear, PDFs and the like can show up as well. Maybe they decided it drains batteries too fast?

I presume its just the folders, not individual files?
 
Jan 14, 2020
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[For an actual answer to the question, skip down to the TL/DR at the end.]

Despite a lifelong love of technology (that slowly morphed into a love/hate relationship, to where now I feel like someone who loved donuts until they worked at Dunkin Donuts for years and now they can't stand the sight of them), I've never embraced "change for change's sake," aka "if it's not broke, don't fix it." I admit that most of the time I'm in the wrong regarding this, as plenty of changes are for the better (though not all).

That said, I remember being figuratively dragged kicking and screaming from DOS into Windows. I had Windows 3.0, 3.1, and 3.11, because they were on the computers I often used, but I haaaated it. At the time I saw very little benefit to them, until 3.11 which was a necessary evil for early web-browsing. (Though honestly I wasn't even a fan of the early web because it felt like dumbed-down telnet only slower [unless I disabled images].)

When Windows 95 came along, I reluctantly accepted it and even saw some of its merits, as a few games managed to take full advantage of its GUI/interface. But my heart was still in DOS, and back when games had DOS/Win95 options, I often stuck with DOS, especially since Windows 95 was more or less sitting on top of DOS, same as Win3x. I was still into min-maxing the capability of my computers, and I saw Windows as an unnecessary drain on resources that could be put to better use elsewhere.

Fast forward to the 21st century, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bloat™, and I've more or less given up trying to force Windows to not hog resources, though I sometimes make a half-hearted effort. I'll disable behind-the-scenes features of functions I feel that I can do without, and maybe get a 1% gain somewhere as a result, if I'm lucky.

It always feels to me like Microsoft unleashes their newest OS just as the previous OS has been thoroughly figured out, tweaked, patched, etc. to a fully usable, comfortable state. Like right now, I've finally got Windows 10 the way I like it, without any of the fluff I don't need or want, and everything is working just so, and now 11 is around the corner, ready to annoy me all over again with its gimmicky layouts and visual effects and hand-holding and whatever else that'll reset/undo my years of fine-tuning.

It seemed like every other version of Windows was a crap version, depending on how you number them. I didn't like Win3x, but I liked 95. I didn't like initial Win98, but I liked 98SE. I didn't like ME, but I liked XP. I didn't like Vista, but I liked 7. I didn't like 8/8.1, but I like 10. So if this pattern holds up, I'm guessing I won't much care for 11. But we'll see. I don't want to assume anything.

===
TL/DR: My favorite version of Windows was XP. I got the most years of usefulness out of it (seven years, I think?), and it didn't feel like a total reinvention of what I'd grown accustomed to with Win95/98SE.
 
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