Ok i HAVE to address this.
Win95 - Crap
Win98 - Good
Win2k - Crap
WinXP - Good
WinVista - Crap
Win7 - Good
Win8 - Crap
WRONG on SO many levels. First off your ignoring 4 windows OS's NOT counting any DOS version. so win 2x blew, 3.1...GREAT...for its time. 95? again GREAT for its time. 98 was more or less an "update" for 95. same resource issues etc, about all 98 does that 95 doesn't with sp2) is add some usb support. almost everything else(sys files etc) is in the same place/works the same way etc. NT once security became a HUGE concern (keep in mind at the time it came out hacking and even viruses were NOT the problem that they became) was horrid, not to mention the control issues etc. however networking it for most things compared to ANY other OS at the time it was years ahead for business use, but both it AND 2k have to be separated from the other OS's from windows BECAUSE the core purpose is different. Anyway NT also has the core issues that were present in 95/98 plus some new ones, however considering it was the first OS on the market really trying to make a network environment A easy and B stand alone on each machine, one has to cut it a lot of slack. (if you want think about the "first" smart phones, i mean the ones out in the 90's trying to do what today ALL phones do, yeah they "failed" but they WERE extremely innovative as well.)
Windows ME...holy FUCK was this a failure in ALL regards. every other version of windows looks amazing next to this POS.
So now we get into the "new" windows IE after a major redesign/recoding etc.
XP-better USB support and such, more stable, but still basically 98 with a restricted use of command prompt(that being its huge downside to me, DEFINITELY prefer 98 to XP usage wise)
2k-HUGE improvements over NT, while a 2k server has lower up time than other OS's the addition of things like active directory(especially this!) make it a huge win on microsofts part. STILL the best thing to use for a large networked environment as much as nix rules for standalone/small network on a large amount of PC's their isnt a better choice. Im basing this off of a "business" need NOT a personal need, even if its less secure it does require a LOT less time to set up/maintain. making it a MUST for a businesses.
Vista- actually a LOT of stuff done right, things they had been planning since 95 came out but had to put off, a lot of the early issues were due to vendors coding poorly and NOT windows fault. that being said even after that their was a LOT of holes bugs etc. Not their best OS, not their worst.
Win 7 - Vista with less holes/bugs, no other real "improvements" made.
Win 8 - buggy/full of holes. whats worse is it took away a number of key features or made them hard as hell to access. from a personal OR business use i can not stand this OS. i will NEVER load this OS on a machine of my own.
Im not ignoring where windows "stole" stuff or anything like that feature wise in the above, however most here do seem to be ignoring things like networked environments or bugs/problems that were around in these OS's when they came out. At the same time im not ignoring or forgetting where windows did something first OR better than other OS's at the time it was out. Like it or not nix systems to this day (ignoring programs that are buggy on it that are win only based) still have more hardware/driver/software issues than windows. if both are set up properly nix WILL be more secure, but on an end PC in a large environment this is less of an issue if you have all your servers/routers/dmz etc set up properly.