Microsoft gets plenty of heat from the consumer and enterprise IT communities for the reliability and security of its products. While the criticism is definitely warranted, there are also plenty of things Microsoft has done right in the 25-year history of its Windows operating system.
As you can see on V3.co.uk, we've been taking a long, hard look at Windows over the past 25 years. So, in true Top 10 style, we count down the best and worst things about the operating system that has come to define personal computing.
Mention: DOS command line
Shaun Nichols: This one is fairly dated, as the command line doesn't get much, if any, use from most people these days, but, up until Windows 95, this was a pretty useful feature.
A lot of those who used the early versions of Windows started on machines that ran MS DOS, or Microsoft Disk Operating System.
While the graphical user interface was preferable for many tasks, certain operations were just easier to do through a command line. For many, the ability to drop back into the command line interface was a huge time saver.
It's also an area where Windows was ahead of Mac OS. It wasn't until the release of OS X in 2000 that Mac users really had a command line interface option of their own.
Iain Thomson: I miss the command line interface. Yes, it was awkward and a foreign language to many, but that was part of the appeal. Show someone raised on a graphical user interface how to navigate via the command line, and it looked like black magic. But it gave computer users real control over their systems.
The DOS command line interface deserves a mention in what is ostensibly a Windows list because it was a part of Windows for many years, and is still something people default to in older versions of the operating system. For a certain generation of computer users, the command line is still king.
That said, very few of those old-timers are still using Windows. The command line is now almost exclusively a Linux interface, but many Windows users still miss it.
Iain Thomson: NT was when Windows moved into the corporate networking sphere big time. The personal computer business had outgrown the corporate market in numbers, if not in value, some time before the launch of NT. But when it came to office networks, the IT manager who didn't want to cause a fuss went for a big platform vendor.
But for the IT administrator who was enthusiastic about networks and could work with Microsoft code, NT enabled the setup of a local network that did pretty much what a top-of-the-line system did for a fraction of the price.
It helped that the major computing economies, Europe and the US, were coming out of recession at the time. Companies were springing up in the desktop publishing and e-commerce fields that were short on funds but highly IT-centric, and NT fitted the bill.
NT also gave Microsoft a serious advantage over Apple. Yes, Apple did provide a limited networking capability but on large-scale networks Microsoft won on simplicity, if not on user experience.
Shaun Nichols: Windows NT was one occasion when Microsoft really knocked it out of the park. In addition to the great networking features, NT was renowned for its security and administrative capabilities.
The operating system helped to lay the foundation for many systems that are still in use today, and it also clued Microsoft into the idea that what works well in the enterprise space can be of use in the home as well.
Eventually, administrators and business users liked NT so much that Microsoft decided to make it the default platform for its operating system. From Windows 2000 on, NT was the basis for the entire platform.
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