Uses for Each Windows

Discussion about old PC hardware.

Uses for Each Windows

Postby notsofossil » 2016-4-25 @ 20:16

I know this isn't directly hardware related, but I couldn't find another similar thread.

I would like to discuss the usefulness of each Windows OS, also hear everyone's opinions on the subject. As a Windows enthusiast, I believe no Windows OS is actually bad or useless, they are all good... Except for Windows 8 because it's not really Windows at all and Windows 10 to a certain extent, I'm not a fan of what it adds and doesn't offer. Yes, even Windows ME and Vista have their places.

Now, my list just covers the Windows OSes I've used before.

Windows 98SE - Best for P2 and P3-based systems or equivalent, also good if you need full DOS support.
Windows ME - Best for P4, Pentium M and similarly new-ish systems, especially if your system doesn't have proper DOS support but you want full Win9x game support. (WinME's virtual DOS support is exactly the same as 98SE)
Windows 2000 - Best for slower systems like P4, Core Solo and Pentium M and you need NT software support, not so much 9x or DOS game support.
Windows XP - In my experience, XP is a bit of a resource hog, so I prefer to go no less than a Core Duo, "Pentium Dual Core" or low end Core 2 Duo and 1GB RAM. It's good if your system isn't new enough for Windows 7 and you need good general software support.
Windows Vista - I admit, because Windows 7 is so good, Vista has limited usefulness. Vista SP2 is about on par with 7 SP0 or SP1, so it can be swapped out with it if need be.
Windows 7 - Still the best modern Windows, great even on Core 2 Duo systems. It really needs 2GB minimum RAM though, 4GB recommended.

I don't use Windows 8, 8.1 or 10 at all, they offer nothing I need.

Really, the important detail is what kind of PC you have. That determines what Windows is best for you.
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Re: Uses for Each Windows

Postby 133MHz » 2016-4-25 @ 22:23

When I read the title of this thread I was thinking along the lines of 'what kind of real world problems is each version of Windows capable of providing solutions for' instead of the 'which one goes with what hardware or games' angle. I like my angle more so that's the one I'm going to take for my reply :dead:. Of course this is based on personal experience so I might overlook a thing or two.

Windows 3.x : I don't see much use for this one (other than playing around on our retro rigs) since 16 bit applications can be run on modern 32 bit Windows and even 16 bit drivers can be coaxed to run on Win9x, maybe for something really obscure and specific that won't run on anything else.

Windows 9x/ME : Pretty useful as a bridge between the modern and legacy worlds, since it can do 'modern' things like USB but also direct hardware access for things like parallel port drives and other esoteric pieces of hardware requiring it, not to mention real MS-DOS. It does cover a fair chunk of hardware & software generations pretty seamlessly. Some example use cases I can think of are DOS-based hardware devices that still need to interact somewhat with the modern world, like EPROM programmers/CNC-like machines/lab instrumentation/homebrew projects/etc where you need bare metal access but USB/network data transfer would be nice, and also for writing non-standard floppies for other systems.

Windows 2000 : I loved Win2k back in the day but the lack of built-in wireless capabilities and everything starting to require XP for no good reason killed it for me. I haven't had any real reason to use 2k exclusively to solve a particular problem.

Windows XP : This is what I'd call "the appliance OS". So much useful stuff from all walks of life has been made to run on XP which will be chugging along for a real long time, real DOS and direct hardware access are gone but due to its immense popularity things have been coaxed to work over the years, coupled with an enormous hardware/software vendor support. I've been told lots of robotics & CNC stuff runs exclusively on XP so those guys keep XP rigs around for their specific applications, and as you may already know, even governments/military do that for certain mission critical stuff. You might also own a very expensive and specific piece of instrumentation without drivers/software for anything other than XP ('cause the manufacturer would rather have you shell out the dough for a whole new device) so that throwing in an old laptop or desktop with XP on it just to run said device makes perfect economical sense. I have a Pentium M laptop running XP for this exact purpose, and when you have such a particular problem to solve the cost of putting together something that will run XP as a sort of ghetto embedded platform is really low and will get the job done, which in today's world it's the only thing that matters. :-P

Windows Vista : Don't see anything that couldn't be accomplished with an older or newer OS instead.

Windows 7 : I'd probably describe it as "XP for current generation hardware". Might not be hip & trendy but when it comes down to business, it gets the job done much like XP and will probably follow in its footsteps. My favorite version of Windows so far.

Windows 8~10 : I don't personally like them but I can see how they will be forced upon us due to the vanishing of open computing platforms. Unless something really game-changing comes along I'll probably keep using 7 on older hardware like a dissident.
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Re: Uses for Each Windows

Postby candle_86 » 2016-4-26 @ 02:04

Windows 1.01, Windows 2, Windows 286, Windows 386, Windows 3.0 are all fairly useless.

Windows 3.1(3.11) could be good for first gen Windows games on older systems that feel sluggish on 95, i know 3.1 had alot of good games

Windows 95 really only for the odd games that wont install on 98

Windows 98(SE) The best option for Windows 9x gaming

Windows Me a great 9x system for gaming, if you can make it stable it will out preform 98 but frustrating if you can't make it stable

NT 3.1, 3.5, 3.51, NT 4 pretty useless for gaming

Windows 2000 if you want to use Dual Pentium II's for gaming

Windows XP if you want to play games from the early 2000's that act weird on 7,8,10

Windows Vista was their ever a good use for it except to use to justify to your wife why you just bought 32gb of ram

Windows 7 If you are stuck with the old mindset and hate change stick with 7

windows 8(8.1) if you have a touch screen

Windows 10 if you want the fastest best optimized version of windows yet
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Re: Uses for Each Windows

Postby Jo22 » 2016-4-26 @ 04:49

Hi folks, you already mentioned a lot. Here are my thoughts to this topic.

Windows/386 = Cute, has a few games like Starbase, Klotz or modem chess. It's terminal program is cute.
Windows 3.x = NEC V20/i80286 compatible. Most reliable for Win16 games. For example, Wintrek has a glitch on the left status window in 9x.
Windows 95 = Good for installing Windows 98.
Windows NT = If you want to play Presentation Manager games.. ;)
Windows 98FE = Okay, last one of the 9x line to officially support WinG for games.
Windows 98SE & Me = Works well with games that have mixed 16/32bit code or apps which use low-level stuff (ex. EPROM programmers on LPT).
Windows 2k, XP = Just works. Very compatible. Comes with Win3.1 built-in. Most complete audio support.
Windows Vista = Better than its reputation, but was unstable 'til SP1. Direct3D retained mode doesn't work out of the box.
Windows 7 = Like XP, GDI is accelerated again (but not GDI+). Audio emulated, like Vista (except OpenAL).
Windows 8 = Okay, but nothing really new in comparison to 7.
Windows 10 = Nothing to say. Constantly changes.

But these are just my personal opinions so far, I'm sure someone will disagree at some point. :-D
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Re: Uses for Each Windows

Postby xjas » 2016-4-26 @ 07:32

Windows 3.x - you can quit to DOS from this. Still the best Windows ever.
Windows 95, 98, ME - the discs look really pretty if you put them in the microwave.
Windows NT4 - it was exceptionally stable because all you could run on it was the desktop.
Windows 2000/XP - if you just *have* to use that cracked program you got off Edonkey2000 that WINE can't handle. Browse shady pr0n sites with the bundled IE6 while you wait.
Windows 7, 8 - best killed with lasers. From space.
Windows 10 - I'm convinced this is a scam to generate free energy by capturing the power of users of the previous versions whining.
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Re: Uses for Each Windows

Postby notsofossil » 2016-4-26 @ 09:02

Very insightful posts, except for this...

xjas wrote:Windows 95, 98, ME - the discs look really pretty if you put them in the microwave.


You are dead to me.
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Re: Uses for Each Windows

Postby Scali » 2016-4-26 @ 09:12

I'll just give my take on a few things...

notsofossil wrote:Windows ME - Best for P4, Pentium M and similarly new-ish systems, especially if your system doesn't have proper DOS support but you want full Win9x game support. (WinME's virtual DOS support is exactly the same as 98SE)


As far as I know, there is nothing that ME offers over 9x on any system (aside from a Windows 2000-look for the GUI). It just doesn't offer some things that 98SE does.

notsofossil wrote:Windows 2000 - Best for slower systems like P4, Core Solo and Pentium M and you need NT software support, not so much 9x or DOS game support.


In my experience, Windows XP is like a leaner and meaner version of 2000. I wouldn't know of any reason why you'd want to run 2000 over XP on any system. You can run Win XP fine on the systems you mentioned. I've even run XP on a PII-350 and it wasn't bad. You'll want a decent amount of memory though, not the minimum of 256 MB. Then again, Windows 2000 doesn't seem to run any better on such a system. And 2000 takes ages to boot (XP implements some optimizations there, such as delay-loading things on startup, to avoid everything wanting to access everything at the same time).

notsofossil wrote:I don't use Windows 8, 8.1 or 10 at all, they offer nothing I need.


In my experience, Windows 8 and newer are leaner and meaner on a modern system. They make better use of multithreading, SSDs and other modern technology. They also use less memory, and feel less sluggish than Windows 7 overall.
And of course Windows 10 also offers DirectX 12, so it will become the platform of choice for gamers in the not-so-distant future.
Not to mention that you can also run variations of these OSes on your tablet or smartphone.
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Re: Uses for Each Windows

Postby oerk » 2016-4-26 @ 09:19

xjas wrote:Windows 3.x - you can quit to DOS from this. Still the best Windows ever.
Windows 95, 98, ME - the discs look really pretty if you put them in the microwave.
Windows NT4 - it was exceptionally stable because all you could run on it was the desktop.
Windows 2000/XP - if you just *have* to use that cracked program you got off Edonkey2000 that WINE can't handle. Browse shady pr0n sites with the bundled IE6 while you wait.
Windows 7, 8 - best killed with lasers. From space.
Windows 10 - I'm convinced this is a scam to generate free energy by capturing the power of users of the previous versions whining.


:lol: :lol: :lol:

...

I have only one thing to add:
Windows 3.11 - my primary choice for 486 or earlier machines with DOS. For nostalgic reasons and for easy mounting of SMB shares without having to mess with TSRs in DOS.
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Re: Uses for Each Windows

Postby Putas » 2016-4-26 @ 11:41

95 are great when you don't have much memory and disk space and time to install bigger win32.
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Re: Uses for Each Windows

Postby Darkman » 2016-4-26 @ 12:29

Windows 3.11 - for 486 or early Pentium systems , but not very useful other than some games here and there (like the sierra games) , it does make file management and such a bit easier compared to DOS.

Win95 - useful for Pentium or Pentium Pro , good if youre running a non AGP setup and can be quick , not the most stable, but it works well generally, especially Win95B with FAT32 support

Win98SE - best on Pentium II-P4 machines, the best "all around" option, will run just about any game from that era. Only issue is that its a little slow to boot up , and needs tweaking to get it running properly on higher end machines.

WinME - kind of unnecessary as it provides few benefits over a properly configured Win98SE , and can be temperamental too. There are some systems where WinME will work better than Win98SE , so it does have its place.

WinNT4 - very stable but game support is sketchy , lack of built in FAT32 makes it a pain to install (unless you like 3 or more partitions) . Cool if you want to run Quake II on a Pentium Pro though.

Win2K - not necessarily great as a main OS but it is nice to have in a dual boot config with WIn98/ME , very stable and quick if youre running it on a PII 400 or above, game compatibility is surprisingly good with SP4.

WinXP - with SP3 its a bit heavy , but pair it up with an Athlon XP or above (or one of the better P4 CPUs) and its the only OS you need for games from 2001 to 2010 at least, stable too.

Vista - not necessarily bad , just a resource hog that wont do anything Win7 wont.

Win7 - DX11 games, and still a good modern OS.

WinNT4 is actually not bad (I make it sound much worse than it is) as a dual boot option along Win95 , its just a shame there is no FAT32 support (and I dont think you can slipstream it either)
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Re: Uses for Each Windows

Postby Jo22 » 2016-4-26 @ 12:32

Putas wrote:95 are great when you don't have much memory and disk space and time to install bigger win32.


Right, it runs -pardon- crawls with 4MB and it fits into an 40MB partition (similar to OS/2 2.x or 3).
My dad had it on his 386DX40 back in the 90s.. He upgraded its memory to 16MB just for that (in '95 this was huge and expensive).
I guess that upgrade did cost more than Win95 itself. ;)
Btw, an article in an old computer magazine claimed that Win95 needs about 32MB of RAM to not swap constantly to the pagefile.
Don't know if that's true or which revision they referred to, had Win98SE running fine with only 16MB for a while around early 2000.
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Re: Uses for Each Windows

Postby shamino » 2016-4-26 @ 13:05

NT4 - If you're using a Pentium, Pentium Pro, or maybe an early Pentium-2 machine for a practical function where you need stability but don't care about DirectX games, then this is ideal.

Win95 - If you're using a Pentium, Pentium Pro, or maybe an early Pentium-2 machine for games and don't care about stability, then this is ideal.

Win98 - For DOS and for version-locked Win9x games on a Pentium-2 and Pentium-3. Interface is slower than Win95 but it does have significant advantages. Must be able to laugh at blue screens.

2000 - For similar hardware to Win98 without a need for DOS game support, this is ideal. After the daily stress of Win98, Win2k saved my life. Runs better than WinXP on P2 to midrange P3 machines, especially those with a 512MB RAM limit. If I don't actually need XP on such a machine, I prefer 2000.

WinXP - great all around OS, not much needs to be said about it's capabilities. Can be configured to look and behave almost the same as Win2k, not much more demanding and runs newer software. nLite makes it pretty customizable.

Vista/7 - if I was desperate to run something that won't run on XP then this would be my compromise, but it hasn't happened yet.
8/"10" - I'd rather use linux.
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Re: Uses for Each Windows

Postby kanecvr » 2016-4-26 @ 13:26

notsofossil wrote:I know this isn't directly hardware related, but I couldn't find another similar thread.

I would like to discuss the usefulness of each Windows OS, also hear everyone's opinions on the subject. As a Windows enthusiast, I believe no Windows OS is actually bad or useless, they are all good... Except for Windows 8 because it's not really Windows at all and Windows 10 to a certain extent, I'm not a fan of what it adds and doesn't offer. Yes, even Windows ME and Vista have their places.

Now, my list just covers the Windows OSes I've used before.

Windows 98SE - Best for P2 and P3-based systems or equivalent, also good if you need full DOS support.
Windows ME - Best for P4, Pentium M and similarly new-ish systems, especially if your system doesn't have proper DOS support but you want full Win9x game support. (WinME's virtual DOS support is exactly the same as 98SE)
Windows 2000 - Best for slower systems like P4, Core Solo and Pentium M and you need NT software support, not so much 9x or DOS game support.
Windows XP - In my experience, XP is a bit of a resource hog, so I prefer to go no less than a Core Duo, "Pentium Dual Core" or low end Core 2 Duo and 1GB RAM. It's good if your system isn't new enough for Windows 7 and you need good general software support.
Windows Vista - I admit, because Windows 7 is so good, Vista has limited usefulness. Vista SP2 is about on par with 7 SP0 or SP1, so it can be swapped out with it if need be.
Windows 7 - Still the best modern Windows, great even on Core 2 Duo systems. It really needs 2GB minimum RAM though, 4GB recommended.

I don't use Windows 8, 8.1 or 10 at all, they offer nothing I need.

Really, the important detail is what kind of PC you have. That determines what Windows is best for you.


Here's my list:

DOS 6.22 + Win 3.11 - 386 PC for Sierra point and click games and some early win games like SKI and alike.
Win95 - 486 and early pentiums - good for most DOS games (under dos prompt) as well as early Glide stuff.
Win98 - Mostly PII/PIII/Early socket A stuff, but I also use it when I want to play win98 games at insane resolutions with AA - I have an Athlon64 3800+ running 98 with a 6800GT and 2xV2 SLi for that exact purpose.
WinNT - no use to me since it doesn't run on top of dos and some games actually complain about it (i.e. Quake 2 CD installer). It's only interesting part is multi-cpu / multi/thread support but since no games in the winNT era support multi-cpu, it's basically useless.
WinME - used it before but I prefer Win98 since in ME microsoft hid the underlying DOS as much as possible making it frustrating at times.
Win2000 - no use to me, I prefer WinXP since the games that don't like running on anything but 98 will not run any better on win2k.
WinXP - Anything from Tualatin and faster. I only use it with games made in 2003 and newer.
Win 7/8/10 - modern systems only - I use 8.1 on my laptop and desktop, and win 10 on my asus transformer.
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Re: Uses for Each Windows

Postby Scali » 2016-4-26 @ 13:31

Darkman wrote:WinNT4 - very stable but game support is sketchy , lack of built in FAT32 makes it a pain to install (unless you like 3 or more partitions) .


NT4 supports NTFS, which is far superior to FAT32.
When I used to run Win9x/DOS and NT4 on a single system, I usually had a 2 GB FAT partition which worked in all OSes, to share applications and data.
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Re: Uses for Each Windows

Postby Jorpho » 2016-4-26 @ 15:07

candle_86 wrote:Windows 95 really only for the odd games that wont install on 98
Has it been confirmed that any such games exist?

Jo22 wrote:Windows 98FE = Okay, last one of the 9x line to officially support WinG for games.
What happens when you try to run a WinG game in 98SE? Is it just a matter of copying the appropriate DLLs?
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Re: Uses for Each Windows

Postby .legaCy » 2016-4-26 @ 16:07

Windows 3.1 = Play Skifree
Windows 95 = i only use for P1 builds that have HDD larger than 8gb
Windows 98 SE = my choice for Win9x games, p4 with ddr 400 and sshd with cap limit will be pretty fast
Windows 2K = pretty useless to me because if aomething didn't work on Win9x it will work on XP.
Windows XP = The step between old games and new-ish ones, it will run Diablo, SC3K, HL2 and Fallout 3 without any issues and will support most of the the up-to-date softwares.
Windows Vista =i used it on my main pc when i got my Core2Duo, but with Windows 7 release it became useless.
Windows 7 = for newer games and i use this on work.
Windows 8/8.1 = useless, worst windows version EVER(even ME and Vista were better), the new security features broke old softwares that rely on using and modifying files on %programfiles%.
Windows 10: = of not tweaked will work like microsoft spy tool, im using it tweaked on my main pc, its fast and do not try to transform your desktop pc into one big and not portable tablet(but give you the option)
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Re: Uses for Each Windows

Postby Standard Def Steve » 2016-4-26 @ 17:01

Win95: 486
Win98SE: P100 - PII-450. Or, very fast hardware (Tualatin, P4, K7) acting as a dedicated 9x/DOS gaming machine.
XP SP3: PIII-450 (with enough RAM) to AGP-based P4 and Athlon XP. Seriously, SP3 itself does not slow XP down. I'm not sure where people are getting that.
Win7: Any Athlon64, PCIe P4 or faster. By far my favourite OS. Everything just works. Sometimes I break my own rules and put it on slower PCs.
Win10: Brand new builds. Or, non mission-critical existing builds like HTPCs. I've see some pretty iffy Win10 upgrades (usually from 7), so a clean install is best. Though, if an existing PC is running Win7, I prefer to keep it that way. Win10 started off sucking pretty bad, but through the updates MS has pushed since release, it has been getting much better. I'm hoping that by the end of July it's good enough to convince me to upgrade my main PC.
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Re: Uses for Each Windows

Postby DosFreak » 2016-4-26 @ 17:13

Scali wrote:
Darkman wrote:WinNT4 - very stable but game support is sketchy , lack of built in FAT32 makes it a pain to install (unless you like 3 or more partitions) .


NT4 supports NTFS, which is far superior to FAT32.
When I used to run Win9x/DOS and NT4 on a single system, I usually had a 2 GB FAT partition which worked in all OSes, to share applications and data.


Also NT4 supports 4GB FAT16 (64k cluster) partitions but only for usage with NT.
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/310561

Supposedly this enables FAT32 support. Never tried it but supposedly it isn't that great.
http://ashedel.chat.ru/fat32/

I do know that the FAT32 support in the NT 3.51 superpack works.
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Re: Uses for Each Windows

Postby Jorpho » 2016-4-26 @ 18:13

Scali wrote:NT4 supports NTFS, which is far superior to FAT32.
I understand there's a substantial performance penalty on slower systems.

DosFreak wrote:Supposedly this enables FAT32 support. Never tried it but supposedly it isn't that great.
http://ashedel.chat.ru/fat32/
http://toastytech.com/guis/miscb2.html suggests that if you use the Windows 2000 bootloader, you can even boot right to NT4 on a FAT32 partition.
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Re: Uses for Each Windows

Postby candle_86 » 2016-4-26 @ 20:46

Standard Def Steve wrote:XP SP3: PIII-450 (with enough RAM) to AGP-based P4 and Athlon XP. Seriously, SP3 itself does not slow XP down. I'm not sure where people are getting that.


No your right SP3 its self doesn't slow down the computer worse than SP2 did, but it does suffer from code bloat, when you consider a fully updated XP has 13 years of updates rammed down its throat.
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