What is your favorite past version of Windows?


What is your favorite, past version of Windows (before 10)?

Me: Windows 7

It pointed Windows in the right direction after Vista. Windows 7 was clean, fresh and crisp at the time. It was faster booting, more reliable, more resource efficient, more compatible with drivers, and overall a solid OS.

Comments (39)

39 responses to “What is your favorite past version of Windows?”

  1. jchampeau

    My favorite to use was Windows 7 but my favorite overall was Windows 2000. Windows 2000 Server and Windows 2000 Workstation brought with them Active Directory, (itself built on DNS, LDAP, etc.), which put Microsoft in a position where enterprises started paying attention and eventually shifting away from NetWare, Linux, AS/400, thin client/Wyse terminal systems, etc. I was 21 in 1999 and I happened to attend the quarterly Microsoft TechNet briefing in my city where they announced and demonstrated Active Directory. I went back to the place I worked and told one of my "older" Novell CNE coworkers about it and how I thought it might just take off. He looked at me like I was crazy.

    • Nomis69

      In reply to jchampeau:

      Yeah, I remember how my Novell colleagues though Active Directory was laughable back in 2000. Except one guy, an old Novell consultant, who after my AD course lingered in the class room, and then said thoughtfully, "I don't think Novell will be around in ten years."

  2. Intara

    I cannot judge the server side, but from a home user point of view Windows XP was always my favorite. It was a huge improvement compared with Windows Me. Windows 7 is, of course, a better operation system from a purely technical point of view. But already here M$ took away some of the user freedom and control. Windows 10 is the absolutely worst example in this context. If M$ does not change its course (and this seems very unlikely to me) I have to switch to another operating system as soon as the Windows 7 support expires.

  3. evox81

    Windows 10 is unquestionably the best version of Windows to date.

    But in terms of how I felt about it at the time and how big of a leap forward it was, my vote for "favorite" would have to be Windows Vista. I had a good PC and waited about 6 months after RTM to install it, so I avoided most of the pain people experienced at launch, which probably helped my initial impressions. But it was probably the last time I was really impressed with an OS from the day I installed it to the day I moved to Windows 7.

    Speaking of... 7 was equally great, but it was so similar, there wasn't much wow factor when moving to it.

    • wright_is

      In reply to evox81:

      I agree for the most part. I would almost say NT 4 was my favourite, because it was a game changer. Everything that has followed has been refinements on that.

      The worst were ME and XP. Who names their product after a disease anyway? ME was crashtastic, compared to NT, 95 and 98. I soon switched to 2000.

      I got a new PC with XP when it came out, but it was such a mess I quickly switched to Linux as my main workstation, keeping the XP machine just as a games platform. After SP2 it became usable, but I still found the Fisher Price interface an affront and always switched to "Classic" straight away.

      Vista came along and it showed that Microsoft had been listening and had been looking at the competition. It integrated a lot of features that Linux users had been used to for years in its new design and won me back over to using Windows as my main OS, after years in the Linux and Mac OS X wilderness.

  4. blackcomb

    I would say Windows Vista, the best operating system I never had. My PC was not powerful enough to handle it back then and I stuck with Windows XP. When I upgraded my PC in 2009 I installed Windows 7.

  5. madthinus

    I will send my love to Windows 98SE and Windows XP, partly because I have reinstalled them so many many times...

  6. Tony Barrett

    On the server side NT4 was a great leap forward, but at the time still paled in comparison to Netware. Windows 2000 was much better, and Windows was moving in the right direction. For me, Windows 7 though will be cemented as the best version of Windows *ever*. MS got everything just right, and at that time, their focus was what's best for the user and not themselves. It still surpasses Win10 in many ways - it was bloat free, stable, consistent, easy to deploy with a development process that worked - by the time it was released, many of the bugs had already been found and fixed (hence only 1 service pack), leading to an almost bullet-proof OS. Vista was ahead of it's time, but Win7 was Vista done right..

    Windows 8 was where it all started to go wrong, and Windows 10 hasn't helped much - we pretty much have the opposite of everything Win7 was about, and it shows!

  7. maktaba

    Windows 2000

  8. aelaan

    My most favorite remains Windows 2K and here is why: It worked perfect on so many platforms, it had the right driver support from the vendors and it was fast on a proper desktop. In those days laptops were hard to find, just a few like Toshiba and some Compaq. It was the one I renewed my MCSE on. And it was also the last version I purchased full price. I still have the box and CD and boot disk here somewhere.

  9. hrlngrv


    It was a huge shift for Windows. Looked like Windows 95, but with NTFS it provided file system security for the first time (OK, NT3.x had already, but there were only thousands of NT3.x users). It was the last time I felt that new OS feel from a Windows version. FWIW, for me XP was a major step backwards before configuring it with Classic Start Menu and Classic Theme; yes, I couldn't stand Luna.

    In terms of security and efficiency, Windows 8.1 with an alternative Start menu works well and provides better configuration options than Windows 10, in the sense that both Windows 8.1 and 10 can be made to look and work like Windows 7 (or NT4/2K) with the right 3rd party Start menu replacement, but given the opinions I've seen from others, Windows 8.1 fullscreen Start screen is better than Windows 10's.

    As for Vista and Windows 7, I don't like Aero Glass. I don't dislike it as much as I disliked Luna, but not much less. Given the new themes since Windows 8, it seems MSFT has also come to believe transparency effects were a flash in the pan.

  10. jimchamplin

    Windows 2000 and to a lesser degree any of the 3.1 lineage.

    That includes the completely separate and different NT 3.x, with 3.51 being the best.

  11. Winner

    Win 7, still my main machine. And I use 10 on my laptop so I'm familiar with both.

    I'm thinking of doing Linux with Win10 when I have to once my Win 7 goes out of support.

    • Tony Barrett

      In reply to Winner:

      Sounds like you're one of many who have little interest in Windows 10. I'm currently running 8.1 with Start8, purely because I also have no interest in 10 and all the hassle it would bring. I just have a couple of win32 apps I still rely on which are preventing it...

  12. moruobai

    Favorite version of Windows: 10

    Favorite *past* version of Windows (overall): 7

    Favorite only in terms of nostalgia: 98SE

    Least favorite: Windows 8

  13. Dave

    Windows ME. Great value for money. Gave endless entertainment and I'm now an expert rebooter!

  14. Greg Green

    For me it was XP, bulletproof for me. Though I hated the registry since it made reinstalling more tedious. For reinstalls it was Win 3.x, where all the program data was separated into prf, cfg, and ini files. That made reinstalls easier, and made program setups portable. Just carry appropriate personalization files over to the new PC and both programs are set up the same.

    Win 7 was a step sideways, able to use more ram but had the unusual quirk of stealing focus from seemingly active windows, a quirk Win 10 continues.

  15. codymesh

    without a doubt, Windows 2000.

  16. bharris

    2000...It was rock solid...especially compared to 98. I used it at home so it was not any of the enterprise features. I just wanted something that didn't need to be reinstalled every other week. After 7 came along, I used it & it was a better experience but as far as reliability, 2000 was better.

  17. Paul Thurrott

    I don't think of it in terms of there being some past version of Windows that was better than newer versions. There are some past versions that were worse. But Windows 10, despite a few remaining issues, is still superior any prior version of Windows.

    In their day, Windows 95, NT 4.0, 2000, XP, Vista, and 7 were all very big deals. You can make the argument that Windows 7 is just Windows Vista Service Pack 2 or whatever, too. Vista was easy to fix. Windows 8 was not.

    • wright_is

      In reply to paul-thurrott:

      Windows 3.11 had the advantage, that you knew what every registry setting was and where to find it! Try memorizing the registry settings in any recent version of Windows! Go on, I dare you!! ;-)

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to wright_is:

        I forgot 3.x had a registry. I mostly customized it through WIN.INI.

        One thing later versions of MS-DOS still have over Windows NT versions is multiple section CONFIG.SYS files which allowed for choosing hardware configurations at boot time with a lot more customizability than BOOT.INI provides.

    • bharris

      In reply to paul-thurrott:Maybe "best" is not the right way to put it. What I was trying to convey is going from 98 to 2000 was the most substantial update for me. I thought the difference, as far as reliability, between 2000 & 98 was very impressive. I agree 10 is by far the best, warts and all....

    • irfaanwahid

      In reply to paul-thurrott:

      I think I am from the minority, but I still appreciate the plethora of technologies and features (Search, Aero, Defender, Beefed up security etc) Windows Vista brought. It's major setback? It was ahead of its time, devices in the market weren't ready, many confusing SKUs.

      The foundation that Vista laid was handed over to 7, 8 and also in Windows 10 to some extent.

      Yes, it was resource hungry, slow and bloated.. but most of the Vista issues were cleaned by SP1/SP2.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to irfaanwahid:

        . . . [Vista] was ahead of its time . . .

        UAC stunk/stinks because MSFT was (and remains) adamant in its refusal to learn anything from how sudo works in Linux.

        As for security, the single most questionable aspect of Windows Home remains the first user account created defaults to Administrator.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to paul-thurrott:

      Other than the lanucher (Start screen), what has Windows 10 radically revised from Windows 8.x? TaskView is new in Windows 10, but multiple virtual desktops goes back to either Windows XP Powertoys or Windows 95 Powertoys. I know there was an XP Powertoy, but I don't recall whether there was a 95 Powertoy. Aside from those, I can't think of anything new or very different going from 8.x to 10.

  18. StevenLayton

    I don’t have a favourite version of Windows, but my favourite time of Windows was when I got my first computer, Packard Bell running a P60 with 4Mb of RAM and some tiny sized HHD. Running Windows for Workgroups 3.11, and then upgraded to Windows 95 via about 20 floppies, with a number of RAM, HDD and CD-ROM upgrades along the way. Tinkering with the autoexec and system to get the CD drive and sound blaster card working on boot, was what put me on my IT career path today. Awesome times, and all before the Internet really kicked off!

  19. Jhambi

    WindowsRT - because every version of windows should come with office baked in.

  20. yaddamaster

    It really depends on what you mean by favorite. If you mean what was the most monumental at the time, most paradigm-shifting, brought the most joy..... then that's easy. Windows 95.

    It simply brought joy for those of us who wanted a proper graphical OS but didn't want to pay the Apple tax.

    After that in order:

    Windows NT 4.0

    Windows 2000

    Windows 7

    If the answer is simply favorite in terms of what I'd use if Windows 10 wasn't a reality then it would be Windows 7.

    But Windows 10 is simply the best Windows. Ever.

  21. BlackForestHam

    Windows 3.1. Clean looking and zoomed on the Pentium. Remember having to install Trumpet Winsock? Oh god, those days.

  22. infloop

    I think that would be XP for me. It was the first Microsoft OS retail license I purchased, and it brought together the Windows 9x and Windows NT lines. But I also liked using the pre-Sinofsky-released versions as I grew up with them.

    Windows 7 and 8 (which I still use) are okay, but Windows 10, along with the end of TechNet a couple years before, is what drove me to start using macOS and Linux more. On the server side, I have moved to Ubuntu running on Client Hyper-V/Hyper-V Server.

    Always bought the Professional/Ultimate editions for Remote Desktop Host, domain join, and Client Hyper-V.

  23. longhorn

    Windows 7 RTM had maybe 1 % of the telemetry data mining that Windows 10 has. So you could almost make the argument that Windows 7 RTM was a privacy focused OS. Anyway, it's by far the most user friendly OS Microsoft has ever released. No unwanted reboots. Update settings were respected (in the beginning). No installation of bloatware without asking the user. It was a true Personal Computer OS. It wasn't perfect, but very good.

    If you want that level of Windows 7 RTM privacy today you have to use Linux and that's kind of sad.

  24. mattbg

    Not that I would use it today, but Windows 2000 was pretty important and laid most of the groundwork for XP by bringing in USB support and other important aspects of Windows 95/98 to the then-business version of Windows. It also introduced Active Directory on the server side.

    I guess Windows 2000 was to XP what Vista was to Windows 7 (and, in some ways, what Windows 8 was to Windows 10) - the important foundational step toward a more polished product.

    Which version would I rather be using today? Windows 10. I don't see it as being inferior to any prior version of Windows.