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The 6 Worst Versions of Windows, Ranked

Windows logo with a dash over it

After more than three decades of success with Microsoft Windows, there have been some obvious errors along the way. With that in mind, we’ve picked the six worst versions of Windows. All of this made us want to stick with older, better versions of Windows, or use alternatives like Macs or Linux instead.

The ranking criteria

Most of us know a bad version of Windows when we see it. Maybe we̵

7;ve experienced personal pain while struggling with the bugs, or lost time installing it over and over, or heard stories about how many times it crashed.

In developing this list, we took into account the following statistics: how many people hated each version (appearances on other worst lists), how badly it sold, how slow it was adopted, how bad the reviews were, how long it lasted. longevity on the market and our own personal experiences with the software. For fun, we also Googled “Windows [x] Sucks, ”and added up the results.

Honestly, there’s no hard science for this, so you might not agree with our exact ranking, but we can confidently predict this: if you were running at least one of these versions of Windows, you wanted to upgrade.

For simplicity, we’re sticking to the full desktop versions of Windows (with the minor exception of an ARM-based detour), so more obscure server and PDA releases (for now) won’t remain a humiliation.

# 6: Windows 1.01 (1985)

The Windows 1.0 desktop with many tiled applications open.

Windows 1.0 may rank high in terms of importance (because it’s the very first version of Windows), but it was a stinker in the market. Unlike Macs built from the ground up with hardware optimized to use a mouse and GUI interface, IBM PCs had to rely on clumsy software tricks to even do the same.

As a result, Windows 1.0 pushed the limits of the capabilities of a typical 1985 PC, making it a memory hog that was too slow to use. In 1986 The New York Times reviewed Windows 1.0 and wrote that “running Windows on a PC with 512K memory is like pouring molasses in the Arctic.” Add in bad third-party support and you had a real dud.

Fortunately for Microsoft, things got better: the average PC became powerful enough to handle Windows without any problems in the early 1990s.

RELATED: 35 years of Microsoft Windows: memory of Windows 1.0

# 5: Windows XP (initial release, 2001)

Certainly, after all the fixes, Windows XP was one of the best versions of Windows of all time. But some of you may remember what XP was like before the 2004 release of Service Pack 2: a buggy mess with driver problems and massive security holes.

There were also growing pains for Windows XP’s brand new activation system, which was a first in Windows at the time. To prevent piracy, Microsoft required customers who built or upgraded their own machines to activate their copy of Windows XP over the Internet or telephone. Making significant changes to your computer’s hardware (such as installing a new hard drive or graphics card) would require Windows XP to be reactivated, which did not cause any shortage of headaches for some people at a time when always internet is not self-evident used to be .

Fortunately, Microsoft continued to refine XP for years, and it eventually became a solid, stable operating system that many were hesitant to give up. The release of Windows XP Service Pack 2 was a pivotal moment that made the operating system much more secure.

RELATED: Windows XP Users: Here are your upgrade options

# 4: Windows RT (2012)

Microsoft created Windows RT as an ARM-based version of Windows that would run on a new class of lighter, more energy-efficient machines such as the Surface RT. There was only one problem: millions of Windows apps designed for the traditional Windows x86 architecture could not run. And most of the Windows 8 specific apps in the Windows Store weren’t very good at the time.

Even worse, it teased full desktop support with a desktop mode that only allowed Microsoft desktop apps like Microsoft Office. Third party apps were banned even when recompiled for ARM. In the end, RT was more than just an embarrassment: the failure of Windows RT and its Surface RT hardware led to a loss of $ 900 million for Microsoft in 2013.

RELATED: What Is Windows RT and How Is It Different From Windows 8?

# 3: Windows 8 (2012)

Windows 8 was a bold business move by Microsoft. It saw the challenge for PCs from Apple’s iPhone and iPad (annual PC sales started to decline in 2011) and decided to take it head-on with a crossover operating system that could handle both touchscreens and desktop PCs.

Unfortunately, Microsoft got a little too excited with its new strategy, forcing its core desktop PC users to put their productivity at risk for a new touchscreen-first interface called Metro. It was a great interface for tablets, but not desktops.

In fact, Windows 8 treated the desktop Windows experience as an afterthought: the operating system booted to the Start screen by default and hid the “desktop” behind an icon. Once you got to the desktop, there was no Start menu and annoying hot corners. If you had left the mouse in the top right corner of the screen for a moment, a Charms bar would appear.

In the end, Windows 8 was an all-in-one gamble on mobile, but it doesn’t pay off. The reviews for it were bleak, and Microsoft fell back hard, first with Windows 8.1 and then with Windows 10. Many users simply stuck to Windows 7 or even moved to Macs.

RELATED: Why I’m Still Using Windows 7 After A Year Of Trying To Like Windows 8

# 2: Windows Vista (2006)

After the great success of Windows XP, Windows Vista was a fiasco. The shiny new OS came in six confusing editions (Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate), turning the market into a salad and confusing customers.

One of the first complaints about Vista was that it was slow on machines that did very well with XP. It was also a memory pig. This was partly due to the flashy new translucent Aero interface and always-on gadgets, which put a heavy strain on graphics, memory and CPU power.

Then there were puzzling annoyances that were meant to help, but actually just got in the way. Case in point: the dreaded User Account Control (UAC) prompts that pop up every few minutes to cover the screen when you were actually trying to do something with your computer. Luckily it was possible to take them out with some tinkering, but what was Microsoft thinking?

In the end, we can thank Vista’s many failures for the glory of Windows 7, which solved Vista’s problems while keeping its claims.

RELATED: 4 ways to make UAC less annoying on Windows 7 / Vista

# 1: Windows Millennium Edition (2000)

Initially, Microsoft wanted Windows 98 to be the last operating system based on the legacy MS-DOS kernel, but the company realized it didn’t have time to prepare NT-based Windows for consumers. The result was Windows Millennium Edition, or “Windows Me” for short.

What was wrong with Windows Me? Well, the main one of the issues was that a lot of people found it crashed – and it crashed a lot. To our knowledge, no one has ever explained exactly why Me was more unstable than the already unstable Windows 98, but we suspect this was due to bugs introduced when Microsoft hastily added new features to Me without proper testing.

There were other problems too: programs running on Me tended to cause a lot of memory leaks, which could also cause crashes. The bundled System Restore utility did not work properly at first. And I removed MS-DOS Real mode, which was necessary for some older programs to work, especially late-1990s MS-DOS games that many PC users were still playing at the time.

To add insult to injury, Microsoft already had the answer in store: Windows 2000, which was stable and glorious. Sure, it lacked the consumer flashy bells and whistles, but it could have done the trick. Instead, Microsoft kicked the ball with Me, only beginning to recover with Windows XP in 2001 (which initially had its own problems, as we discussed above).

RELATED: Windows Me, 20 Years Later: Was It Really That Bad?

Honorable mention: Windows 10 (2015)

It’s been a tough road for Windows 10. Among the problems: built-in ads, freemium games, forced updates, data collection and privacy issues, and a Frankenstein look and feel that blends bits and pieces from four generations of Windows into one product, that Microsoft is still refining.

Windows 10 gets high marks for providing a competent desktop experience, but somehow the touchscreen fares worse than Windows 8. And speaking of Windows 8, Microsoft is in between two software architectures: UWP and the old Win32 platform. . Torn between wanting to quit outdated Win32 apps – which Windows 10 malfunctions in high DPI modes – but keeping its massive install base, Windows 10 is neither here nor there.

With Windows 10, the sometimes inscrutable updates never end. Microsoft is constantly fiddling with new features and turning them off and back on while referencing apps and utilities. And there are still at least two different ways (Control Panel and Settings) to configure the system. Windows 10 feels like bits of code screwed here and there, with no grand vision unifying them.

We’ve gotten enough comments about Windows 10 over the years to know that a lot of people really don’t like many aspects of it.

So while Windows 10 is one of the best versions of Windows of all time in many ways, a strong argument can be made that it’s one of the worst in other ways too. If there’s ever a Windows 11, let’s hope it can get a fresh start without breaking everything (like Vista and Windows 8 before it). The future awaits!

RELATED: Disable all Windows 10 built-in ads

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