Windows 2000 Pro:

.. goes down well with the corporates. It is the securest OS ever released by Microsoft..

Windows Millennium:

.. goes down like a lead balloon. All of its features stacked on top of a base which toppled if you walked by fast enough is proving to be a problem on Windows 9x hardware. It needs to be run on hardware earmarked for Windows 2000, but can still crash without user intervention.

Windows XP: 2001

.. is the joining of Millennium and 2000. It is the first OS for the general public that doesn’t crash out directly after installation. It’s colourful and fast, but it needs way more resources than Windows 9x. Unfortunately, the OEMs need to have a range of machines, budget to brilliant, but the budget machines are bad and struggle to make the most of it.

Corporates are wondering what happened to the security features, and it will be a while before XP can be locked down.

Service pack SP1 fixes some of the opening bugs but SP2, a major re-write, is the fix that finally defines XP and introduces proper security. Each service pack removes some older features but nobody really notices because in general terms, XP is streets ahead of its predecessors.

Windows Vista: 2006

It should have appeared at the end of 2004, but the new features that Microsoft had been shouting about were not working out and development was started again from scratch.

Beta testers were disappointed and warned that it was not good enough for release, but Microsoft released it anyway. Security was a major feature of Vista. Unfortunately, it was akin to negotiating a maximum security prison and took forever to do what XP could do in seconds. The loading on hardware was huge, and it needed resources x 4 compared to XP. It took a further two years to produce, but the slowness remained and UAC was not received well. Its best claim to fame was the look of the interface.

The hardware industry held back on drivers because of the scepticism circulating and when it was released, upgrades to existing machines, especially at the budget end, were badly received. Instead of the ‘wow’ promised, the reaction of most was ‘whoa’. Vista never recovered from its bad rep, although it was actually good on the right hardware after the SP2 service pack..

Windows 7: 2009

Beta testers reported that more traditional features are lost, and there isn’t even an included email client, but it brought back the speed of XP. It will run on higher end XP hardware, but drivers for older hardware are lacking, and XP users having been entrenched for eight years with the best OS to date are not happy at having to upgrade hardware to essentially get the speed they already have.:

What XP users don’t realize is that Windows 7 has the security of Vista without the wait times, the speed of XP, and the ability to repair itself, something that XP could never do reliably.

Reports for Windows 7 are generally good and even the beta versions are reliable. Good news travels and Windows 7 makes good headway, but older hardware drivers are still an issue. Some hardware manufacturers relent and start to support older stuff again.

Windows 8: 2012

There are no betas because the man behind Windows 8 thinks that beta testers are too negative. Instead, we get previews. Early previews get mixed reception because the interface is VERY different, but for power users and others who like it, there is still a Start Menu in the Developer preview.

The sigh of relief is short lived re the Start Menu and desktop mode. Under instructions from the man in charge, every piece of code relating to the traditional menu is removed, registry hacks and all.

There is a huge outcry and not just from power users. The majority of general users do not know how to shut down the new apps, or why apps have to be full screen, and it soon becomes apparent that Windows 8 is for touch screen tablets, not laptops and desktops. Microsoft releases it anyway and PC sales which have been a little slow anyway, almost comes to a complete stop. Windows 8.1 promises a revision of the of Start debacle, but only put back the button, not the menu.

Windows 8 has a variant not seen before. It’s RT and it only runs on ARM architecture. The Surface RT is a tablet which can be a mini laptop, but apart from the OS and a special version of MS Office, there is little else going for it, certainly not general use by the public. Corporates have always been slow to take up a new OS, and they are not going to take this one up any time soon.

A word on MS Office:

Up until Office 2003, people liked it, then along came the ribbon. I didn’t mind it at all, but many disliked it intensely. Why wasn’t there an option to have either the drop down or ribbon style? It could have been done.

Conclusion (mine):

There has only been one Windows operating system which can claim to be truly great and it isn’t Windows XP. While XP was a ground breaker, it wasn’t until what should have been close to the end that it came good. Windows 7 was good right out of the original box.

Windows 8 could have been too, but it was cobbled before it had a chance. The classic Start Menu would have felt like home and the tiles were there to be tried out. Instead,, traditional users were/are given a slap and told to get over it. Is it any wonder that PC sales have slumped? Hardly, and the blame can’t all be put on tablets.

So XP hangs on because users are too scared to change, and now there isn’t even the safety of Windows 7 because it is not easily available anymore, a situation which can only get worse.

I honestly don’t believe that Steve Ballmer was the right person at the top, and the next one has a very tough job to do. The next CEO will need more than luck..