What version of Windows should I use?

Throughout its history, Microsoft has unveiled various Windows versions, starting from Windows 3.1 up to the current at Windows 11. The common question is: Should I upgrade to the latest version?

As a suggestion when you do decide to upgrade to a new OS. When a new version of Windows is released, I would recommend to delay your upgrade for a few months after a new release. This gives early adopters the chance to identify and rectify potential issues. Companies like Microsoft and Apple can do extensive testing prior to release, but they can’t account for all the various hardware and software that us users have on our computers. So in a way, those first couple months are a kind of final testing.

My theory on upgrading is that you should consider updating to every alternate version of Windows. Throughout their versions they will have a good solid release, followed by one that needed work, and then another solid release. And my theory seems to hold up when you look back at the previous versions.

A Glimpse through History:

  • Windows 3.1 (use): Microsoft moves away from DOS into their first graphical 16-bit interface and thus the first use of a mouse.
    Windows 95 (skip): A significant upgrade from Windows 3.1 but not without issues. This was Microsoft’s first attempt at a 32-bit operating system.
    Windows NT (n/a): Released before Windows 98, it was primarily for businesses. It merged with the consumer line in Windows 2000, combining features from Windows 98 and Windows NT 4.0. Many skipped it, finding Windows 98 sufficient.
    Windows 98 (use): A significant update from Windows 95. Stability was achieved with Windows 98 SE, which became a favourite among users. It included new hardware drivers and the FAT32 file system which supports disk partitions that are larger than 2 GB.
  • Windows ME (skip): We don’t talk about Windows ME!
  • Windows XP (use) : This stable OS merged elements of Windows 98, Windows NT, and Windows 2000. It’s the first time multiple versions are released (home, professional, media center, touch). With various versions and service packs, it became wide-spread used as it met the needs of both consumers and businesses.
  • Windows Vista (skip): Felt like premature release with a slew of issues. That this was an unfinished Windows 7, but for some need, they had to get an OS out on to the market.
  • Windows 7 (use) : Faster booting, Windows PowerShell, less obtrusive User Account Control, multi-touch, and improved window management. User’s found this interface easier to use than previous versions. Many would stay on this version until Microsoft forced it’s end-of-life.
    Windows 8 (skip): Microsoft’s attempt to redefine user experience met with significant backlash, the biggest complaint was by the removal of the familiar start menu and switched it to a Start Screen.
  • Windows 10 (use): The beloved start menu returned, and users could upgrade for free from Windows 7 or 8. With features like virtual desktops and regular updates, users clung to it (and still do), resisting the jump to Windows 11. Similar to Windows 7, users may stick with Windows 10 until Microsoft forces it’s end-of-life.
  • Windows 11 (skip): The latest release brought a new design, but not without controversy. Some users face compatibility issues due to the TPM 2.0 security chip requirement. Others note quirks with sound or video functionalities that were working in Windows 10. Microsoft’s strong push to integrate user accounts has drawn parallels to Apple’s ecosystem.

Looking Ahead: Windows 12 is on the horizon. Expectations include continued TPM 2.0 requirements, a list of only supported CPUs, and a more significant push for Microsoft account integration. My prediction? Many, especially businesses and educational institutions, might remain loyal to Windows 10 due to hardware constraints, costs and operational stability. Because of these concerns, users may not be able to easily upgrade to the new OS without having to upgrade their hardware. And that’s not a simple request. But for those eyeing the future, Windows 12, after its initial hiccups, might be the next big leap to jump on to.

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