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Windows 95 and NT 4.0: Where Windows Peaked

July 27, 2021 at 02:02 PM


Revision history

  • August 21, 2021: Removed part about the dumbing down of modern Windows

Windows NT 4.0 screenshot

Windows has been going downhill for a while, peaking at Windows 95 and NT 4.0. Windows 98 and 2000 were built around a bloated shell based on Internet Explorer. Windows XP introduced activation that can make the system unusable. Windows Vista and 7 required much more system resources than XP to run smoothly. Windows 8 and 10 removed the classic theme and introduced lots of advertising and telemetry. Windows 11 is even more bloated and its system requirements are ridiculous.

No activation

Windows XP activation requirement

Since Windows XP, all Windows installations had Windows Product Activation and needed to phone home to tell if it should allow the user to change some settings or even use the computer at all. Windows XP would not allow users to log on if the activation expired. Windows 7 would change the wallpaper to black every hour and say "This copy of Windows is not genuine" in the bottom right corner. Windows 10 does not let the user personalize their system at all and has an annoying "Activate Windows" watermark in front of everything in order to pester the user into giving Microsoft their money.

Every windows version prior to Windows XP does not have Windows Product Activation, and they can be used with no restrictions forever. DRM makes it harder for users to extend the longevity of the software they paid for, and with Windows XP no longer being supported, some people are forever locked out of their old computers and can't access their data.

Lightweight

While modern versions of Windows choke on the computer having a 1 GHz CPU and 2 GB of RAM, Windows NT 4.0 is fully unconstrained on computers with a Pentium processor and 128 MB of RAM. A whole operating system by itself shouldn't need to use tons of RAM and processing power. 16 or 32 GB of RAM doesn't mean it's all there for you. The user could use that extra RAM and CPU time for their resource-intensive tasks like video editing, 3D animation, or gaming.

Windows 95 and NT 4.0 are more lightweight than Windows 98 and newer since their GUI's are not built around a bloated web browser, and they do not have resource-intensive themes. They are even more lightweight than many lightweight Linux distributions, which shows that there is plenty of room for improvement when it comes to the resource usage of services and desktop environments for Linux and other modern systems.

As long as we keep modern software lightweight and still supporting not too old hardware, we won't need to get a new computer every three or six years and planned obsolescence won't be an issue.

Better interface

Unlike Windows 8, 10, and 11 which have flatass eye-piercing interfaces that are more difficult to navigate, Windows 95 and NT 4.0 have an interface based around 3D objects that are easier on the eyes and can be navigated more quickly since it is much easier to tell things apart. You think dark mode will prevent eye strain? Nope, skeumorphic interfaces will.

An interface like this also uses less computing power than an interface with tons of fade, zoom, shadow, and transparency effects that could have a significant impact on performance and power consumption.

More customizable

Add/Remove Programs

Windows 95 and NT 4.0 allow the user to choose which bundled programs to have installed and change all the colors of the GUI elements. The user is also given more control over the whole system than newer versions of Windows which restrict the user and allow Microsoft to shove updates full of added spyware, advertising, and bloat down the user's throat.