A Patchwork of Windows Versions

XP was arguably Windows's breakthrough moment in a patchwork of Windows versions. Will Windows 11 prove similar? You know what I'm about to say.

From the origins of MS-DOS, Windows 1.0 ad 2.0 were ambitious, but flawed. The desirability of the graphical user interface outstripped most hardware's ability to deliver it.

Windows 3.0 almost made it, Windows 3.1 finally delivered a vision of a GUI of the kind we recognise today. Windows 95 was a watershed GUI that actually worked.

Windows NT ('New Technology' - it wasn't) was re-write that added functionality - networking amongst others - under the hood but didn't change the GUI significantly.

Windows 98 put Active Desktop and Internet Explorer front and centre. Microsoft's Internet age began in earnest.

Windows ME (Millennium Edition) had some media functions but largely passed folks by. As did Windows 2000 (W2K) but IT pro's loved it for its stability.

Windows XP kicked he GUI up a notch and attempted to fix the mess of security and device driver updates.

Then things went horribly wrong with Windows Vista. Compatibility issue left us in Driver Hell once more. While it was pretty, performance issues - not just the Aero Glass interface - pushed Vista beyond the capabilities of a lot of machines. It was horrible. Some of us downgraded to XP. It pushed others (me) to the dark side of Linux, never to look back.

Windows 7 fixed all that and restored confidence, with an attractive, responsive OS that devoted users cling to even now.

Windows 8 was a hideous Franken-OS with bits of touch interface bolted on. The infamous Live Tiles start panel and 'Metro' flat design style began here. It was so bad, Windows 8.1 rushed out. It was too late. 8.1 didn't fix the core issues.

Windows 10 brought back a stable, working OS and GUI. Ditching most of Windows 8, Windows 10 moved forward with the Modern Apps. Except where it didn't and you find yourself looking at leftover bits of Windows 7.

This month we have Windows 11. It has rounded corners. Apple hasn't sued yet. Give it time. It's equally criticised as another half-measure, a re-skinning of Windows 10 with little changed underneath. The controversial Trusted Platform Module (TPM) requirement for added security has some cynics crying foul, that it's an excuse to bolster the PC industry with new sales. After all, Windows 10 runs on almost everything and if Windows doesn't do anything new, why upgrade?

The verdict from PC Health Check and Windows update, "this PC isn't compatible with Windows 11", will stall the upgrade for millions of users with perfectly capable machines. Microsoft once again shoots itself in both feet with a Windows release that is expensive, difficult and largely unnecessary.

Are rounded corners and a mess of inconsistent menus with the price of a machine upgrade? I don't think so. RC

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