What was the last version of Windows you truly loved (From a GUI)?

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As somebody who grew up in the 90s playing with PCs, then making a career out of it in System Administration i use to love Windows, it use to excite me, i actually wanted to use it.

For me Windows 2000 was the last Microsoft OS that i truly loved the GUI of, it was clean, simple, neat and tidy, not too many stupid wizards everywhere and it did not nag me.

Windows XP could with enough ticks of boxes be made to act like Windows 2000 more or less, with things such as classic mode in Control Panel to get rid of that awful grouping they introduced and that fisher price my first PC look could be turned off.

Microsoft have in my option gone down hill with every version of Windows since it terms of the interface, which is extremely important because its the interface that we as humans interact with the hardware.

I would rather use the Windows 3.1 GUI with Program Manager than Windows 10 or 8 or 8.1, they do nothing but infuriate and frustrate me to the point that i am now drained off all my love and excitement for Windows, Windows 8 drove me that mad with its jarring GUI i went out and bought my first ever Mac for use at home.

So what do others feel was Microsoft’s best OS in terms of the GUI? What was the last version of Windows you actually loved using? Do you think Microsoft will ever give what so many people seem to want again, a decent GUI……

Comments (36)

36 responses to “What was the last version of Windows you truly loved (From a GUI)?”

  1. Bats

    This is a tough question for me, because I never really thought about it. I never really thought about, because never during my "journey" with Windows (3.1., 4, 95, BOB, 98, ME, XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 10) did I ever experience a "techgasm" with a GUI. The truth is, I am cool with all of them, including "8."


    I think the closest answer to your question would be "7." I am only on Windows 10 because A) it was free, B) it came pre-installed on my PCs last year, and C) it's security upgrade. Windows 7 is a little more simpler. I feel that there is no real difference between 7 and 10. To me, 10 is like Microsoft re-upholstering and moving the furniture and telling me that I am in a new house. So, I guess it's "7."

  2. George Rae

    What was the Windows version that first used the aquarium screensaver and had that cougar picture? That was my first wow moment. Drawing a blank about which release that was. Now i’ve Come back to W10 from MAC and am enjoying the switch. Windows 8 blew me out to Mac, as it did many apparently.

  3. Stooks

    My first Windows was Windows 286 and 386. I supported Z286/386's Zenith computers in the Air Force. I remember waiting in line at FedEx to pickup my copy of Windows 3.1. Windows 95 was a huge with a midnight event at Fry's in the Bay Area (San Fran).


    That said Windows XP was my favorite to include the server version, Windows 2003 R2. They are IMHO the last great versions of Windows.


    Vista/Office 2007 prompted me to get my first MacBook and I have always had one since. At the same time my Xbox 360 had its first RROD, followed by 2 more. My faith in Microsoft started going down. 7 was a move in the right direction and I thought "they are coming back!" followed by Windows 8.x and now 10....not so much.


    I gave my last home Windows PC to my son in November. Basically a beasty gaming rig and moved my little gaming I do to the Xbox One X. My personal computing now is all Apple and I am lucky in that I am also given a choice or PC or Mac at work.

  4. pderosa

    I got on board this train at MS-DOS 3.2.2, I think. Definitely version three of MS-DOS. 7 was my favorite, but 10 is fine. I don't mind interacting with the UWP \ Metro \ Whatever stuff either. What I mind is the loss of control and what some call advertisements. I feel like Microsoft has contempt for me as a user now.

  5. rob_segal

    It comes down to Windows 7 versus Windows 10 for me and it's hard for me to pick one interface over the other because of the updated features in Windows 10. The ribbon interface in file explorer, improved copy and paste UI, action center, an improving and more intuitive settings app, and the lock screen are important Windows 10 interface elements for me. However, because of fluent design not being fully implemented yet, Windows 7 has a more consistent (and dated) look.


    Windows 8.1 has become a distant memory. I adapted to it. I saw its strengths and it worked for me. Its inconsistency is worse than Windows 10. Microsoft is going in the right direction. I wish more elements in Windows 10 had fluent design right now. RS4 is much better than the Fall's Creator's Update in this regard. A fully-featured UWP File Explorer would be nice. I already replaced Notepad with NextPad. They also need to make the right-click menus consistent, but I know that's easier said than done.

  6. WP7Mango

    Windows 10 is my favourite version from a GUI perspective, and it keeps on improving. It's the version I love using the most, and I've used all of them since Windows 2.0

  7. Jules Wombat

    Umm yeah what was it called now - Windows 10 I think.

    I quite Liked Windows 95 when it canme out obviously, and Windows 2000, followed by Windows 7 being fairly nice.

  8. disco_larry

    I can't say I've really 'loved' any of them. But there are ones I definitely loathed -- XP with the Luna(?) interface, Vista's Explorer was truly awful, and of course the abomination that was 8/8.1. Windows 8.x is interesting in that I thought, "Well, if MS is going in this direction, it's time to finally go Mac." I bought an iMac and got a MacBook Pro for my next work PC solely because I didn't like the direction MS was going. In talking to coworkers, I've found a couple who also went Mac because of Windows 8. I do believe it was the single best thing a competitor could have done for Apple.


    I'm fine with Win10, though I have used Start10 with it from day one. I don't care for the default Start Menu.

  9. wshwe

    I can't say I loved the GUI of any version of Windows. Windows is just not simple and elegant IMHO. I like the GUI of a couple of Linux distros. I don't use Linux because of the lack of apps, but that may change due to the rise of web apps.

  10. Jhambi

    NT4 was clean and lean. I do remember liking service pack 4 which added some shell updates that were in windows98. It was great to gloat about the uptime on my pc over everyone else in college who were running 98 ?

  11. maethorechannen

    2000 for much the same reasons. 10 is the best since.

  12. Lauren Glenn

    I enjoy the Win10 UI. I really do. The one thing I don't care too much for is the Start Menu. Too many resources seem to get pulled into rendering that thing. So, I turned to Start10 which is all I want in a Start Menu. I don't use live tiles any more(which I apparently can't turn off in Win10) . When I had a Windows Phone, I loved them because it made sense there.


    To me, I think the only UI that was really exceptional on a Microsoft product was Zune HD. That interface was incredible and amazingly easy to use.


    Then they ruined it when they made Windows Phone 7... :/


    The only piece of Win10 I hate now with 1709 is that I constantly have to kill DWM in Task Manager to get it to free up resources. I constantly get black rectangles inside of windows due to lack of resources, so the only fix is to restart or just kill DWM.exe which will free up the resources and give me another couple of days of normality.

  13. Martin Pelletier

    Did enjoyed the Star Menu of Windows until many of my apps stop updating their tiles. Since then, I use Start10. I love Win10 in general. The Fluent Design bring nice feature to the apps that remind me of some Win7 transparent window borders I used to like.

  14. hrlngrv

    I've used nearly all versions. 98 pre-SE and Vista are the only versions I've never used. 2K was good, but it used the C:\Document and Settings hierarchy which fubarred too much older software which wasn't ready for spaces in pathnames.

    For me, the last version I eagerly awaited and was actually excited to use was NT4, the first real OS I'd used on a machine of my own. For me, what really made that version of Windows interesting to use was full drive compression, truly isolated accounts, and being able to tweak file associations to add actions which would appear in Windows Explorer context menus.

    As for the latest versions, there are enough reliable Start menu replacements that that's not sufficient reason not to use Windows 8.1 or 10, which do have behind-the-scenes improvements over Windows 7. That said, it should be possible in Windows 10 to remove ALL unwanted applets and UWP cruft. In my own case, I've removed the Xbox app but can't remove the Xbox game bar, so the latter remains wasting disk storage for a feature I'll never use.

  15. ianceicys

    Windows Neptune.

    http://web.archive.org/web/19991008111151/http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/insites/dvorak/jd990301a1a.htm


    I still think about the concepts that were being tried between Windows ME and Windows XP.


    Another cool idea from Microsoft Research. https://youtu.be/3-mhqYBm7Xo?t=31

  16. arunphilip

    For me, it was Windows 7. Vista brought in a new graphical style, but it was a bit of a hodge-podge.

    Windows 7 was version 2.0 of that style, and it really cleaned up and streamlined the UI, and it felt lightweight as well.


    That said, all of that is from a UI perspective. From an overall OS & functionality perspective, Windows 10 has a lot of features I've grown to depend on that make it a little harder when I have to use a Windows 7 machine.

  17. rameshthanikodi

    Windows 10. TBH, I liked Windows 2000, XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 too. The only one I really didn't like was Windows 8.

  18. Tony Barrett

    Back in the day, when MS listened to and valued their customers, and didn't try to milk every bit of information out of them possible, litter their desktops with ads and promotions and add feature after pointless feature, they created a refined desktop that was almost perfect. Windows 7. Building on all versions before it, streamlining Vista in the process, Aero and Aero Glass were functional, pretty, easy on the eye, fast and efficient. They did the job with no fuss. MS built as OS UI for the people, rather than now when they're trying to drag the people to the OS whether they like it or not!

    If MS had given the world Win7 v2, they'd surely have had a massive hit. What we got was Windows 10. Nuff said.

  19. Angusmatheson

    I can answer the reverse - the Windows I hated was Windows 8. It was horrible. The desktop and the tile based tablet mode didn’t work together as a whole. The controls were unintuitive and undescoverable. Because of that, I was super excited for Windows 10. The insider program - by showing me they were doing something better than 8, made me enjoy it even more. Now, I’m fine with 10, or 7. I booted an old Windows 98 computer and it was fine too. Other than finding it own drivers - the extra features of modern OS - just don’t seem to help much. I wonder if they (and I’d put Apple in that too, even Linux is getting more complicated) had put their energy into an OS that was simplistic, faster, more secure, more energy efficient rather than more features and abilities that don’t really help the user that PC would be competing with mobile devices better.

    • wright_is

      In reply to Angusmatheson:

      The problem is, to do that, you need to get rid of features, which users and their software are currently using. That is unfortunately not practical and is the problem that Microsoft has had to fight against for the last, nearly, 40 years.

      Every time they take something away, some software somewhere that is mission critical to somebody stops working... Apple and Google don't seem to care, they just do what they want, but continually add stuff, to make people want to upgrade (and to help sell newer, faster hardware). But they don't have the corporate world so deeply buried in their past, that they can't drop old, no longer safe or modern parts of the OS.

  20. evox81

    I have a soft spot for Vista from a UI perspective. As much of a mess as it could be, it was the first time I felt like I was using "the future" in a Window OS. But I've liked most of them, including 8. The latest being Windows 10 which I really like.


    About the only version I didn't like was ME. I always thought it felt cartoony and dated.

  21. yaddamaster

    Could be answered in two ways (perhaps more):


    Last MS OS I truly loved (based on intensity of feelings at that time): Windows 95. Hands down. The excitement was off the charts. Closely followed by Windows XP.


    Last MS OS I truly loved (overall): Windows 10. Hands down. I'm not excited about it like I was Win95XP but I "love" it.


    Love for OS's is like love in real life. It often isn't an excited feeling..... ;-)


    Last MS OS i truly hated despite wanting to love: Windows 8. Freaking Frankenstein monster.

  22. wright_is

    Windows 10.


    I started with Windows 2 and I can remember the fights people had when Windows 95 came out and did away with the Program Manager and replaced it with the Start Menu. That was the work of the devil! Then, along come Windows 8 and Windows 10, offering a hybrid of Program Manager and Start Menu and it is the work of the devil.


    Windows 3 was a big step forward, compared to Windows 2 and 95 was a fresh new direction, which pinnacled with Windows 2000.


    Windows XP is probably the worst, from look-and-feel. The Fisher Price colours and buttons were dreadful and made it feel like a toy, compared to Windows 2000. Its saving grace was the Classic mode.


    Vista brought a more modern look-and-feel, which brought it up to the standards that Linux desktops had had for a couple of years. Windows 7 refined that.


    I find the flat look of Windows 10 to be very refreshing. It is minimalistic and doesn't get in the way. When the transition from the old Windows control panel to a complete modern Windows control panel, it should be a lot better. That is probably the biggest problem at the moment, you have some options in the new CP, some in the old CP and some on both, but they work a little differently or are cut-down on the new CP.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to wright_is:

      Picky: both Windows 95 and NT4 came with Program Manager and File Manager, and it took simple tweaks to use them rather than Windows Explorer as the desktop shell. MSFT knew enough back then to provide the previous UI for those determined to resist change. Windows 8 was the disaster it was because MSFT mistakenly believed it could treat Windows users the same way Apple treats Mac users. MSFT has either discovered or confirmed that Windows users are rather more independent than Mac users, goats rather than sheep.

  23. jimchamplin

    Do you mean the actual user interface, or the appearance? They're different things.


    As far as the UI, I liked how interactive Windows 8 was. I actually appreciated the attempt to modernize. Everything else from Windows 95 through 10 has been the same with small tweaks along the way.


    As far as appearance, the flat post-faux-glass look is my favorite, with the soft glows and blurs of Fluent adding much-needed depth.

  24. Patrick3D

    If it weren't for the damn Charms bar then I would rank Windows 8.1 as my favorite GUI. It made the WinKey on the keyboard useful for a change, easily swapping between a Start screen and your desktop. What I like so much about the Start screen is that I find having a visual layout of shortcuts easier to manage than a menu-based list. Opening a program was as simple as pressing the WinKey and by the time it appeared having the mouse pointer in the general location I knew the program's tile would be at that I wanted to launch. It was a lot faster than digging through nested folders in menus. Sadly, the Charms bar made the whole thing a nightmare when it came to dealing with Settings and the Control Panel.


    Windows 10 is a significant upgrade by doing away with the Charms bar, but Microsoft still has yet to consolidate the Settings and Control Panel, not to mention they change the locations of various tools/settings with each feature update.


    With the modern UI's ruled out I have to go with Windows 98SE being the best. When used in combination with the LiteStep shell replacement tool it made it trivially easy to re-skin the UI to look like any OS you wanted. Windows XP with StyleXP was fun too, but the attempts to force a lot of services on in XP made the OS a hog of system resources.

  25. Brad Sams

    Maybe not overall favorite UI, but I loved the icons in Windows ME...I was eager to upgrade from 98 for that reason alone.

  26. quackers82

    Just been watching some YouTube videos showing off some of the Themes you use to get with the Microsoft Plus! Pack for Windows 95, brought back so many happy memories, that and some of the great little games they made with the Microsoft Entertainment Packs.


    Microsoft should bring some of these things back if they want to get consumers excited about Windows again. Should never under estimate how important they can be.

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