The Top 5 Windows Versions of all-time


I have been on every version of Windows since its inception so I thought with release of Windows 8 (and now that I am on it) I would go through the years and provide my list of the top 5 versions of Windows ever.  Now this may be a daunting task as I have to remember why a particular version of Windows was great or not, but frankly I like the topic and it should be fun.  It came to me while having a conversation with an old co-worker in his office, and I thought , “hmm…there have been so many I should probably write about it”.  So without further delay here we go.

5) Windows 8:  Some may ask why not number 1 of the top five work OS’s?  For starters I have had Windows 8 for a little over 3 weeks.  I am still getting familiar with this beast.  What has impressed me so far is the ambition behind the operating system.  This is the biggest departure since we went from Windows 3.x to Windows 95. Besides the new UI, everything is touch enabled.   Many middle-aged Microsoftees have said “Hans do you have a touch screen enable version?”   I have to admit I will trust my kids more on the value of that then middle-aged folks trying to be hip.  Sarcasm aside I will say what impresses me more than the new UI is the stability of what is a major UI refresh. An overhaul was needed, badly for what had become a stale user experience.  Change is hard, in particular when everyone was so comfortable with the “Start” button. In any case what holds Windows 8 from going up or going out is time.  It is still a relatively new products so in six months, the view may be completely different.  Plus Windows 8.1 should be out by then adding some stability to the platform.

4) Windows NT 4.0:  How did this one slip in here?  Primarily memory leaks.  Somehow along the way in corporate America companies stated moving away from plain vanilla Windows and started deploying its corporate sister, Windows NT.  Even at Microsoft this was the preferred desktop.  The previous versions of NT had issues.  If you left a PC on for 24hrs (many people did) the system would eventually slow down until you either crashed or needed to reboot.  Pretty common for all OS’s in those days.  What NT 4.0 introduced was a very stable operating system.  It was nothing exciting as it was designed with enterprise in mind, but in many ways it raised expectation on what users should expect from their PC.   It still took forever to boot.  Turn on PC go grab a cup of coffee and come back, but it did perform.

3) Windows XP:  This was one of those operating systems that did not offer anything exciting, it just worked.  It did not hurt that the follow-up product, Vista was kind of  a disaster.  Thus stopping many companies from deploying Vista and waiting for Windows 7.  Another thing is XP followed some poor OS’, which included Windows 98 and Windows ME.  It was a OS that worked and was deployed at homes and in corporate America.  Nothing speaks to its success more that the fact that Microsoft has had to work overtime to get people off of this dated OS.  That, in my view, is the ultimate compliment to the software engineering team that created XP.  Bottom line is XP just worked,

2) Windows for Workgroups 3.11:  Ok a tough call here as I could have also picked Windows 3.0 or 3.1.  In many ways 3.0 probably should be here as it was truly the OS that ushered in the Windows world.  The GUI tha would be famous and redefine the industry.  Windows 3.1 introduced the File Manager with the tree view of your folders.  Seems simple today but it was big in 1991.  Windows for Workgroup simply added some additional networking capabilities to the OS, but in the end that is what made it complete.  It was almost an unattended success, as Workgroups was originally a separate system from the Windows product line, intended to mark Microsoft’s more direct entry into competition with Novell, Banyan Vines and Lantastic..  But new features coupled with better product stability equaled success.

1) Windows 95:  The launch of Windows 95 was B-I-G!!  One of those moments in history that will be remembered and written for many years after I am long gone from this earth.  It would go unmatched until Apple came out with the iPhone in 2007.  It was a defining moment for Microsoft and was really that last time you could garner real excitement about an Operating System (read my Windows 95 Launch blog post).  After this one no one seemed to care as much about the OS.  It was literally the culmination of a journey that had started when Bill Gates and Paul Allen were still at Lakeside High School.  Beyond being a new 32 bit OS, it was one of those rare industry moments that does not happen that often.  As I mentioned earlier it was 12 years before the next moment when Apple launched its iPhone.  To be caught up and a part of that excitement was thrilling, to see the consumer reaction was phenomenal.  It was a release that Microsoft could do no wrong, even when they did (BOB), it was greeted with light-hearted humor.  In my view Windows 95 was the biggest and greatest of them all

There you have it my top five Windows operating systems.  It is always fun to do a top five or tope ten list and I hope you have enjoyed my view and perspective.  Please debate me if you disagree. The operating system from a publicity perspective is probably not as a relevant as it once was, but it Is certainly not less important.  Try getting on the web without one.  Nothing has served that cause better than Microsoft Windows.  It has been the workhorse that has made everything possible.  Yes, there have been some duds (Vista), some huge winners (Windows 95), but all in all to define our future we will still need an operating system in eth background to get us there.

Good Night and Good Luck

Hans Henrik Hoffmann August 12, 2013

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2 thoughts on “The Top 5 Windows Versions of all-time

  1. Hans- great post, very entertaining and educational. However I will take issue with your NT 4.0 comment that OS crashes/hangs were pretty common in that era. I would submit that SCO Xenix was an extremely stable OS, with the usual caveat (applicable again to all similar era OS’) that one had to do a small bit of proper setup.

    Great to read the history in any event—!

    1. Chris – thanks for the comment and feedback – SCO Xenix as many UNIX variants of the time tended to be more stable than Windows. they just lacked apps for commercial viability…kinda sounds like todays mobile market:-)

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