My first introduction to Windows was version 1.0. In Version 1.0, they introduced the mouse, pull-down menus, graphical interface - all the stuff Xerox developed and gave away to the world. Wow. It wasn't until version 3.0 that it was "stable" - and by "stable" I mean usable. The graphics back then were really low resolution, it didn't leave much room on the screen for stuff. DOS was better.
By 3.0 there was VGA graphics, and it did the trick. But the Mac had PhoneNet, a networking over phone lines where you could hook up computers, share files and printers. So Microsoft had to compete - and they came out with Windows for Workgroups. That was a mess - ask anyone who worked with it! Forget it.
As the industry and technology matured, they finally came out with a viable version that networked, and that was called Windows 95. Finally, a version of Windows you could use and only reboot once a day to maintain stability from crashes. Kind of.
Long story short, there were many many released versions of Windows - with only a few stable versions in between. More than half of the versions were considered by the professional community to be stable, as indicated by boldfaced type below:
- Windows 1.0 c. 1987
- Windows 2.0 c. 1987
- Windows 3.0 c. 1988-1989
- Windows 3.1 c. 1989 - Didn't freeze that often, only had to reboot a few times a day on average, had to format hard drive and reinstall OS every 6 months or so to maintain performance
- Windows 3.11 c. 1989-1990
- Windows for Workgroups c. 1989-1990
- Windows 95 c. 1995 - Didn't freeze or Blue Screen that often, only had to reboot a couple of times a day on average, had to format hard drive and reinstall OS every 6 months or so to maintain performance
- Windows NT c. 1996 - (Server version) Recommended reboot once a week to maintain "stability"
- Windows ME c. 1999
- Windows 2000 c. 1999 - Only had to reboot once a week, had to reformat hard drive and reinstall OS once a year to maintain performance
- Windows 2003 c. 2002 R1 and R2 - (Server version) First stable, able to run long periods without reboot
- Windows XP c. 2002 - (not stable until Service Pack 3 several years later - hence both bold and non-bold characters)
- Windows XP 64 bit c. 2004 - Although generally considered a stable operating system, many of the applications were inherently unstable because of the underlying Operating System's unstable handling of 64- and 32-bit applications
- Windows Vista c. 2008
- Windows 7 c. 2009 - I reboot my laptop about 2-3 times a month because of instability that does not usually crash the whole system, just makes things annoying
- Windows 2008 R1 and R2 c. 2009 - (Server version)
- Windows 8 (the jury's out as it's not yet released)
By my count, that is 15 releases since 3.0. Of those, 7.5 were considered stable (XP is mixed). That puts Microsoft's track record on Release at 50% (let's be generous and say XP 64 really was stable, 57%). That's pretty close to every other release. Further, they claim that they completely rearchitected Windows.
As an analogy, let's imagine that we were a company that made cars. We develop a car in R&D, test it out, then put it out in the dealerships to sell. Every other model we release just doesn't work. What happens? A whole host of things - but many of them just crash. Stuck accelerators, won't start, brakes fail, steering freezes. Yet, we sell more cars than anyone else - Honda, GM, Toyota, Ford, Nissan, Chrysler, Hyundai, Fiat - anyone. Why is that? How is that - I mean really, you must have everyone hoodwinked, right? Perhaps it's because we have the coolest styling - yeah it may suck and isn't reliable, but at least it looks cool? Works for Jaguar. But I digress.
Knowing that Microsoft has "completely rearchitected" it - whatever that means - and they have a 57% track record, how do you feel about "upgrading" to Windows 8? Are you going to do it? How would you feel if you bought a machine that came with Windows 8 pre-loaded, and you didn't have a choice (remember ME)?
Whether you use computers for business, recreation, leisure, home, or all of the above - remember that you DO have a choice. Your choice begins with your wallet. Where you choose to spend your money dictates what organization your money goes to. Do you give your money to a company with a 50% track record on their Operating System, and depending on how you count it, a 0% track record on hardware (many think X-Box is successful, albeit it is not a real money-maker in Microsoft's earning reports)?
You can buy a PC without an Operating System, and download and install Linux for free. This runs just fine, and many apps are free. You can buy a Mac, and be rest assured that everything works great, and you won't pay much more than you would for a non-Mac (unless you wand to get a low-end PC, in which case Apple doesn't have anything that competes at the low end). These are 2 alternatives that are quite manageable for the average guy - if you only think a little, and take a little action to find a local store that can support you.