Ranking of all 12 versions of Windows, From worst to best

From Windows 7 or 95 to Windows ME, each has its fans; But which version is the most powerful in the world?

Ranking Windows versions is a matter of taste and depends on many factors, such as user experience, performance, compatibility, and security. Old Windows users sometimes prefer to stay loyal to identical older versions and resist migrating to newer versions such as Windows 11. Younger people may not have a chance to experience the old versions of this operating system.

Some users have memories of Windows XP or 98 SE, and some are fascinated by Windows 7 or 95. The opposite of this is also entirely true! Some consider Windows 8 to be a desperate attempt to satisfy both Windows and tablet users, and for others, the less we say about Windows Vista, the better.

In this article, we will rank all versions of Windows from the worst to the best, regardless of the age range of users, by examining Microsoft’s strengths and weaknesses and wins and failures.

12th rank – Windows ME

The decision to assign the title of the worst version of the Windows operating system is a challenge. However, we chose this title for Windows ME. Despite its excellent initial targeting, Microsoft’s Windows ME failed on almost all its promised features. This version of Windows ended up only lasting a year, after which Microsoft introduced the lovely Windows XP.

Windows ME (Millennium Edition) was the last MS-DOS-based Windows operating system released on September 14, 2000, for home users. However, Microsoft limited users’ access to the DOS environment to improve and shorten the system startup time. This caused the user to benefit from the improvements in the Windows NT kernel (the main Windows kernel for workstations and network computers), which later became Windows XP. Formed, remain deprived, and do not have access to the capabilities of the DOS environment.

Windows ME is the worst version of Windows that bears the nickname “the wrong version of Windows.”

Windows ME was an interim version of Windows that came out between the release of Windows 98 and Windows XP, but it had poor driver support and was very unstable, so it could crash many times after booting up.

There were countless reports of it crashing during installation, and features like System Restore, which Microsoft had touted many times, often failed to protect damaged systems.

Microsoft tried to do some innovative actions for Jeran Maffat:

  • Releasing automatic security updates.
  •  Native ZIP support for compressing folders.
  •  Introducing a new Help and Support system to simplify the troubleshooting process.

However, Microsoft’s efforts could have been more effective because the operating system’s core did not perform smoothly and correctly.

11th rank – Windows 8

The development of Windows 8 was considered an essential step for Microsoft that needed to gain more attention. This version of Windows was released on October 26, 2012, as a replacement for Windows 7. Microsoft’s goal in developing Windows 8 was to change the user interface for touch gadgets to meet the needs of tablet users.

Removing the start menu and presenting the start screen instead of the desktop environment, extensive changes, and combining desktop and tablet user interface elements can be identified as the most important reasons for Microsoft’s failure in presenting Windows 8.

Windows 8 was the first version of this operating system after Windows 95 that did not have a start menu and instead was equipped with a new screen for touch gadgets. This screen, called Live Tiles, used square or rectangular tiles to display tools and applications.

In addition to the confusing design and disrupting the habit that users have been accustomed to for a long time, Windows 8 hosted extensive changes in the user interface to satisfy tablet users. This vision and failed implementation could have been more understandable to experienced and novice desktops users and disappointed long-time Windows fans.

This dissatisfaction caused Microsoft to release another version of the same Windows under Windows 8.1, in which the taskbar and start menu were returned. Microsoft also tried to encourage gamers to stay on the platform by keeping DirectX11, but all these decisions were panacea that needed to be revised.

10th rank – Windows Vista

Most of you consider Windows Vista the worst version of this operating system, but its modern appearance ranks it ten on our list. Microsoft first called this version of Windows Longhorn, and after development and completion, it was finally released under the name of Vista on January 30, 2007, on its official website. Windows Vista was released five years after the previous version, namely Windows XP, which is the longest time between the release of two different versions of Windows. The minimum hardware specifications announced at the time for installing Windows Vista were compelling. This Windows-only required a 1 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM, 15 GB of storage space, a graphics chip with DirectX 9 support, and 128 MB of VRAM to install. These specs sound like little today, but 15 GB at the time was ten times the amount of storage required, and 1 GB was roughly 20 times the amount of RAM needed to install Windows XP.

Windows Vista was incompatible with older drivers, and almost all companies were forced to release new drivers for their programs, making the Vista version of Windows a nightmare for programmers. In addition, the widgets of this Windows were not welcomed as they should be, and the new pop-ups did not find favor.

The only positive point of Windows Vista can be the semi-transparent Aero design language. Compared to the Windows XP design, Aero was more modern and had a transparent glass theme; This design was later used in Windows 7, and even Apple was inspired by it to design the Leopard Mac operating system.

The Aero design language can be considered an upgrade path for future user interface design. However, today Windows Vista is regarded as one of the worst versions of the Windows operating system, which was too new for its time, and few people have good memories of it.

Ninth rank – Windows 1.0

Windows 1.0 is the first version of the Windows operating system, released on November 20, 1985. Maybe this version deserved to reach a higher position, but the fact is that Windows 1.0 was not an independent operating system at all. Windows 1.0 was a graphical environment that ran on the MS-DOS operating system.

Windows 1.0 is an excellent start for Microsoft’s new direction, supported for 17 years.

The popularity of graphical user interfaces led Microsoft to introduce Windows 1.0 as a graphical user interface based on MS-DOS.

Windows 1.0 required two floppies to run in an MS-DOS environment and supported CGA, Hercules, and EGA graphics cards. Some classic Windows programs such as Paint, Calculator, and Notepad were developed for this version of Windows, and it was possible to run MS-DOS programs. However, only a limited number of these programs were run well.

8th rank – Windows 2.0

Windows 2.0, like Windows 1.0, was a 16-bit graphical environment introduced on December 9, 1987, as a replacement for Windows 1.0.

This version of Windows did not succeed like Windows 3.0 or 3.1 and still needed to be competitive with the Macintosh operating system. Still, it did come with essential improvements compared to Windows 1.0. In this version, Microsoft added the ability to overlap and change the size of windows and support 16-color VGA graphics and desktop icons. Instead of terms like “Iconize” and “Zoom” in Windows 1.0, the terms Maximize and Minimize used.

The most important strength of Windows 2.0 was not the operating system itself but the programs that came with it. Windows 2.0 was packed with practical default applications, from calculators and calendars to Microsoft Word and Excel. Microsoft supported Windows 2.0 for 14 years until December 31, 2001.

Seventh rank – Windows 95

Windows 95 was the operating system that determined the appearance of Windows for decades to come; In this version, Microsoft introduced the iconic Start menu and placed applications in submenus for easier segmentation and organization of the visual interface. Windows 95 was a huge change compared to the MS-DOS environment, and the graphical interface of this version opened new doors for game and application developers.

Microsoft unveiled Windows 95 on August 24, 1995, and for the first time, succeeded in surpassing the Macintosh operating system in terms of performance.

Windows 95 had many bugs that were all fixed with the release of Windows 98. Still, this version introduced many of today’s desktop standards to the world and was Microsoft’s most popular operating system for a decade.

Windows 95 had about 60% of the computer market until the late 1990s. The most prominent features of Windows 95 still used today are:

  • The taskbar.
  •   More efficient management of files.
  •   Adding more shortcuts for the keyboard.
  •   A more modern desktop.

Sixth rank – Windows 98

Windows 98 was released on June 25, 1998, as a replacement for Windows 95 and fixed its bugs. This version of Windows was the first operating system that supported USB and DVD and had a standalone browser (Internet Explorer).

Windows 98 was well received after its release. Its second version, Windows 8 SE (abbreviated as Second Edition), became more popular a year later with many bug fixes and user interface optimizations.

Windows 98 was the first to introduce a clean Internet Explorer (4.0) version and the ability to share the Internet connection. Despite the dependence on the MS-DOS kernel, it was a start to getting rid of the limitations of the Command Prompt.

In addition, Windows 98 hosts some of the most well-known games of the decade; Games like Age of Empires, Half-Life, and Unreal made this version of Windows the top desktop gaming platform.

At that time, users were a little upset about the sale of Windows 98 as an independent operating system because they considered this version to be an improved version of Windows 95. However, Microsoft sold tens of millions of copies of this version and finally stopped supporting it after eight years.

Fifth place – Windows 11

Windows 10 was supposed to be the “last version of Windows,” but in June 2021, Microsoft officially unveiled a new version called Windows 11 as an evolved version of the previous Windows.

It may be too early to judge the latest version of Windows, but this version already has many fans due to its simplicity and high speed of operation. The bold changes of Windows 11, such as the redesign of the start menu and the taskbar, might cause this version of Windows to suffer the same fate as Windows 8; But this did not happen.

Windows 11, despite all the many innovations, can be considered a significantly evolved version of Windows 10, in which some of the old interfaces of Windows 7 have been removed and offer a more consistent and attractive user experience.

In Windows 11, you can run multiple desktop versions simultaneously and switch between them for more productivity. In addition, Microsoft also supports Android apps in this version of Windows, and it is also possible to download from other stores, such as Epic Games.

Although gamers are used to Windows 10, Windows 11 tries to tempt them with new features such as more optimization for running games in windowed mode and support for AutoHDR and direct storage.

The specifications required to install Windows 11 are almost the same as Windows 10, except that Windows 11 only supports 64-bit systems; Windows 11 currently requires at least 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

It may take years for Windows 11 to replace Windows 10, but if the adoption rate continues to rise, we can hope that this version of Windows will one day be recognized as the best version of Microsoft Windows; Of course, provided that Microsoft does not release a new version of Windows until then.

Fourth place – Windows 3.1

Microsoft introduced Windows 3.1 in April 1992 to compete with Apple, two years after the release of Windows 3.0, by fixing graphics problems and displaying fonts and multimedia files.                      

This version attracted the attention of many people and made companies show interest in using Windows in addition to regular users. In this version of Windows, Microsoft has improved the content creation fonts and introduced Ctrl+C (for copying), Ctrl+X (for cutting), and Ctrl+V (for pasting) shortcuts in this Windows.

In addition, Windows 3.1 was equipped with tools such as Screen Saver and Media Player, and the two games Solitaire and Minesweeper were also installed on it by default.

Microsoft sold more than 3 million copies of Windows 3.1 in the first three months of its release. This success paved the way for the introduction of Windows 95 3 years later; Microsoft officially supported this version of Windows for nine years.

Third place – Windows 10

Windows 10 was introduced on September 30, 2014; This version of Windows is considered the “most comprehensive software platform” that is available on any device, from smartphones to tablets and computers, in an integrated manner; According to Microsoft, Windows 10 was supposed to be the last version of the Windows operating system.

This version of Windows is available in different models such as Home Edition for home users, Pro Edition for more advanced users, Enterprise Edition for businesses, Gaming Edition, and a model compatible with phones. Was presented.

All these models were equipped with a virtual desktop, Windows Defender to secure the user environment, Windows Hello security system, and Microsoft’s virtual assistant (Cortana).

Microsoft introduced Windows 10 after the failure of Windows 8; After the wave of user dissatisfaction, this version of Windows made a gentle slope to return the pleasant experience of working with Windows 7 to the user.

Second place – Windows XP

Windows XP is one of the most popular versions of Windows that was introduced on October 25, 2001, under the code name “Whistler”; During the development of this version of Windows, many Microsoft employees worked in the resort of Whistler, Canada.

Windows XP was developed on the core of Windows NT and 2000 and was initially launched with two home and professional users; With the help of this version of Windows, Microsoft introduced millions of people to the World Wide Web and provided the possibility of communication between thousands of popular chat programs.

Windows XP has the most iconic appearance among all the versions of the Windows operating system, from the green start button to the Rolling Hills wallpaper that reminds us all of Windows XP. In addition, this version of Windows was equipped with default programs such as Windows Media Player, Windows Movie Maker, and of course, Solitaire.

Windows XP only supported 32-bit processors and, therefore, could not use more than 4 GB of system RAM, and when 64-bit processors were released, this version of Windows was limited.

Although the life of Windows XP was only 13 years, and from January 2008, Microsoft did not allow it to be installed on new computers, millions of users still use it on their computers.

First place – Windows 7

Windows 7 was introduced on October 22, 2009, for use in personal computers; This version was the seventh generation of Windows operating systems supported by Microsoft for 11 years.

Some believe that Windows 7 is a modified version of Windows Vista developed to fix its problems. However, the seventh version of Windows appeared beyond a simple modification; Windows 7 was fast and responsive and offered significant visual improvements over previous versions of Windows. It was very compatible with old hardware and software and used essential features still considered among the main foundations of Windows.

Some of these features include improved touch interaction and handwriting recognition, support for Virtual Hard Disk, improved performance on multi-core processors, improved operating system kernel, and high speed of installation and setup.

In addition to the more excellent stability of Windows 7, the possibility of drag and drop was also added to Windows Media Player in this version of Windows, and the ability to convert units in the calculator was improved; These features were not seen in previous versions.

Windows 7 required 1GB of RAM to install and was more expensive than previous versions; however, if Microsoft and modern hardware still supported it, many users would still be using it today.

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