Ranking all 12 versions of Windows, from worst to best

You can tell a person’s age by which version of Windows is their favorite. I have fond memories of XP and Windows 98 SE, so you can take a guess at mine, but I have colleagues who are much more enamored with Windows 7, or Windows 95. We all have something disparaging to say about Windows 8 though, and the less said about Windows Vista the better.

Ranking the different versions of Windows is about more than what era of computing you grew up in, though. There are some very serious duds in Microsoft’s back catalog, just as there are a few wins too. But whether you can look back on some of Microsoft’s disastrous releases with rose-tinted glasses, or have some genuine love for Microsoft’s missteps, here’s every version of Windows ranked from best to worst.

12. Windows ME

Windows Millenium edition desktop.
Wikimedia

It’s a toss-up as to which is the actual worst Windows operating system, but for us, Windows ME just about takes it, because despite its lofty goals, it failed at almost all of them. It ultimately only lasted a year before it was replaced by the beloved, and infinitely improved, Windows XP.

Windows Millennium Edition was the last Windows OS based on MS-DOS, but it restricted access to DOS to improve boot times. This made it the worst of both worlds, as it couldn’t benefit from the improvements found in the Windows NT kernel, which formed the base of Windows XP, but also didn’t provide proper DOS functionality either.

Windows ME was plagued by poor driver support and incredibly bad stability issues. It is known for how frequent it would crash, and not just once you had it up and running. There are myriad reports of its crashing during installation and setup, and much-touted features like System Restore often

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Microsoft urges millions of Windows users to check their PCs today

Anyone using an older version of Windows would be wise to check their PCs and make some urgent changes this week. The warning, which has been issued by Microsoft, is due to the impending end of support for Windows 8.1 which will no longer get any security updates or patches after January 10 2023.

Those still running this software could find themselves in danger of cyber attacks and unwanted bugs as Microsoft isn’t going to be pushing out any upgrades after next week’s deadline. Although Windows 8.1 was released all the way back in 2013 it’s still being used by a surprisingly vast number of people across the world.

According to the team at Statcounter, Windows 8.1 remains the fourth most widely used Microsoft operating system on the planet with some 2.45 percent of all Windows users having it installed on their devices.

That makes this end of support pretty worrying as it will affect millions of people and could leave many PCs open to attack.

Explaining more about the issues of not upgrading, Microsoft said: “While you could continue to use a PC running Windows 8.1, without continued software and security updates, your PC will be at greater risk for viruses and malware. We recommend upgrading to a version of Windows that is still supported. A new device that can run Windows 11 makes for an easy transition and a great experience.”

Anyone running 8.1 now finds themselves facing a dilemma. There are two options including switching to Windows 10 or upgrading to the very latest Windows 11 OS.

Jumping to Windows 11 will almost certainly mean buying a new PC as most older laptops aren’t compatible with this software.

That’s an expensive option but it might be worth biting the bullet now as Micorosft has confirmed that support

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Surface and Windows revenue tanks 39% in latest Microsoft earnings report

What you need to know

  • Microsoft released its FY23 Q2 earnings report today.
  • The company brought in $52.7 billion in revenue (up 2%).
  • The More Personal Computing division got hit harder than expected due to the declining PC market.
  • Surface (Devices) and Windows OEM revenue were both down 39%, with Devices worse than last quarter’s guidance.

The PC market is dropping off a cliff, and Microsoft feels the hurt. While the company is up just 2% in overall revenue at $52.7 billion for FY23 Q2 (opens in new tab) (just below some street expectations), the More Personal Computing division has been hit particularly hard.

More Personal Computing, which includes Surface, Windows, Xbox, and Bing, earned $14.2 billion, down 19% year-over-year. Microsoft had given investors guidance of $14.5 to $14.9 billion US dollars meaning Microsoft is in a bit more trouble in these areas than anticipated.

Windows OEM licensing revenue declined by 39%. While that is not great, Microsoft’s guidance did say Windows OEM expects income to fall “in the high 30s”, which is in line with what was delivered. Of course, such a significant decline is never welcomed, but Microsoft wasn’t caught off guard by the number and is within expectations.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Surface (Devices), however, was hit a bit harder. It, too, declined by 39% (it was up 2% last quarter), although Microsoft had estimated “approximately 30 percent” for the quarter, making that a big miss. The number suggests that Microsoft’s latest offerings of Surface Laptop 5, Surface Pro 9, and Surface Studio 2+ failed to convince consumers to fork over some money. And with no Surface Duo 3 in the portfolio to launch, there was undoubtedly less excitement.

Xbox and gaming also took a big hit, with a 13% decline year-over-year in revenue. 

Search (Bing) and news

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The Windows 11 File Explorer is getting a big redesign… again

The upcoming File Explorer update will show recommended items, activity history, and more directly in Windows 11’s interface.


Microsoft is working on a big update for the File Explorer in Windows 11, bringing with it a modernized design and additional features. This is on third round of significant changes bein made to File Explorer, after the initial Windows 11 release, and then the addition of tabs in the first “moment” update for Windows 11 version 22H2.


The information comes from Zac Bowden of Windows Central, and the report comes with a look at some of the upcoming changes. One of the first things you’ll notice is the new Recommended section in the Home screen, which ties into broader plan to integrate Microsoft 365 more deeply into the experience. Recommended files are pulled from SharePoint and OneDrive locations, and they’re shown with large thumbnails so you have a clearer view of the files that are being recommended.

Screenshot of a redesigned Windows 11 File Explorer with a Recommended section showing files with large thumbnails.

Image credit: Future

This integration goes deeper, too, as the Details pane for a file is also being modernized to show even more information. You’ll be able to see recent activity on shared files, as well as recent comments on a file, whether that file is shared through the cloud or via email. One of the images shared also shows a section for related files, which give you more context for a specific case you may be working on.

Screenshot of the Details pane in Windows 11 showing recent activity on a shared file

Image credit: Future

Another change, although we don’t have a look at this one yet, is a new Gallery view that’s being added to File Explorer to make it easier to browse and view pictures. According to the report, you’ll be able to hover over a photo to see a larger preview of it. Microsoft is also apparently considering adding tags to files, similar

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Microsoft Q2 2023: Windows, devices, and Xbox down as cloud holds strong

Microsoft has just posted the second quarter of its 2023 fiscal financial results. The software maker made $52.7 billion in revenue and a net income of $16.4 billion during Q2. Revenue is up 2 percent, but net income has dropped by 12 percent. The results come just days after Microsoft announced 10,000 layoffs.

Microsoft previously forecast a tough quarter for Windows OEM revenue and hardware, and the results are clear on the state of the PC industry right now. PC shipments fell by 16 percent in 2022, according to analysis by Canalys, and Gartner reported a nearly 29 percent year-over-year drop in Q4 — the largest quarterly shipment decline since it began tracking the PC market in the mid-1990s. Microsoft’s Windows-related revenue has been hit hard as a result.

Windows OEM revenue, the price PC manufacturers pay Microsoft to put Windows on machines, fell by a massive 39 percent in Q2. Microsoft says this was driven by “continued PC market weakness and a strong prior year comparable.”

The Surface Pro 9 in laptop mode.

Surface Pro 9.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Gartner says the total amount of PC shipments in 2022 was close to pre-pandemic levels, so it’s clear the boom of laptop purchases is well and truly over. “Since many consumers already have relatively new PCs that were purchased during the pandemic, a lack of affordability is superseding any motivation to buy, causing consumer PC demand to drop to its lowest level in years,” says Mikako Kitagawa, director analyst at Gartner.

“While the number of PCs shipped declined during the quarter, returning to pre-pandemic levels, usage intensity of Windows continues to be higher than pre-pandemic, with time spent per PC up nearly 10 percent,” says Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in an earnings call today.

This deterioration in the PC market has

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