6 years ago, with the release of Windows 10, it was all about "this is the last version of Windows!" and they went with the rolling release model. A little strange but they stuck with it for 6 years until suddenly this summer they announce Windows 11 and they went hard talking up how it was a huge change to Windows but in reality it isn't. At all.
It has a new visual layer sure but the applications are still the old Windows 10 (and so really the old Windows XP?) ones with that new look. They introduced a new store and support for additional stores such as the Amazon Android app store.
I guess what I am saying is I don't get why now they are calling it Windows 11? They could have just carried on calling it Windows 10. They have introduced big UI and feature changes in previous Windows 10 updates (perhaps not quite as big as the new taskbar and Explorer changes).
It is a free upgrade for Windows 10 license holders (consumer anyway, not sure how it works for Enterprise?).
It just all feels so rushed and messy and the end product is just not very good as we can clearly see here.
I don't want to hate on Windows, after all they have introduced some really interesting new things since Windows 10 initial release such as WSL. It is just there didn't appear to be a want or need for a Windows 11 and this rushed mess makes it look like Microsoft didn't (doesn't?) know what it is doing with Windows either. Shrug.
That is really the difference between Win 10 and Win 11: Requirement for UEFI, TPM 2.0 and a CPU that does AVX2 and FMA3, and some kind of hardware-assisted virtualization.
UEFI allows them to rewrite their entire bootup codebase with only one target. Literally hundreds of megabytes of sourcecode will be removed from their tree, some of it dating back to the 80's, and replaced with something that is much, much smaller and cleaner.
TPM 2.0 and hardware-assisted virtualization allow them to move the kernel one level up in the privilege hierarchy, while properly verifying it during boot to eliminate entire categories of exploits and providing trusted computing that might actually work this time. (Not entirely positive, but it's a desirable feature for them.)
And having all the cpus that can support the OS also support the good vector instructions greatly raises the baseline against which most software is compiled. This is an often underlooked point: The benchmarks and the most performance sensitive programs might get multiple code paths or versions for different cpus, but by far the most software made for Win 10 still only targets a very low baseline. Even if it's not 32-bit, most programs only target the ancient SSE2 (!) because that's the baseline that's quaranteed to exist if you have a 64-bit cpu, never mind it's over 20 years old now.
I find it hard to believe dropping legacy boot support saves hundreds of megabytes of any data in the OS, let alone source code. (If anything, the UEFI code is orders of magnitude larger / closer to that size, than legacy boot support.)
I could believe that dropping legacy boot support drops a lot of complexity and arcane, old code that's no longer as well-understood. However the actual footprint of that code can't be large. The boot sector is only 512 bytes, then you chain to a secondary and maybe tertiary step in the boot but those are measured in kilobytes or megabytes, hardly hundreds of megabytes (compiled).
But the fact is once the boot process has completed there's no longer any reason to refer back to any of the stuff that happened during the legacy boot while the operating system is running normally; by that point how the boot was accomplished is a non-issue. So it's not like, for example, supporting outdated/obscure hardware where you have to keep a bunch of drivers around.
> But the fact is once the boot process has completed there's no longer any reason to refer back
The instruction pointer is hardly the only state here. Doesn't the __SM__ structure (and the mess that came before) cascade into a bunch of configuration? It seems to me that it really could look like keeping a bunch of drivers around.
I realize that sounds a bit like a Monty Python critique of the Romans, but there’s no way I would/could use the platform as a daily workstation professionally. It served its last days as a home servant droid well, but just. It’s longevity in a low-demand role was only possible by augmenting it with an array of SATA SSDs and a hypervisor. I finally put it down a while back (and still had one backup mobo NIB for it). All the above relatively lightweight functions it was performing can be done with better performance on a far smaller footprint for size/power consumption/noise today. Those attributes are part of an improving performance profile. People talk about a performance plateau, which I’ve pushed back on in other posts as really being a demand plateau for many of its advocates. Case in point, using the phenom platform as a daily workstation. If one can even think about pulling that off, it can only be because their expectations have dropped very low for performance or their needs haven’t changed since Phenom was in its prime. Yeah it runs the old workloads like it always did (and why would it not? Even better when augmented with more modern hw/sw), but no way under the sun would I be able to overlay my current demand profile on a phenom platform and have anything but swamped resources and interminable delays. I say this as someone who fully appreciates the awesome power we have in a 5v/2A RPi smaller than a deck of cards, and what can be done a larger platform drawing less than 60w today, let alone what can be done with 1000w. The phenom platform is highly inefficient in comparison to the tools now at your disposal.
Maybe a keychain ornament.
Windows 10 will be widely used in 2031. You're not going to drop support for it and old CPU regardless of Windows 11 existence.
Would that really look so bad? Even the Linux kernel dropped 80386 eventually.
Windows 10 feature updates occasionally phasing out hardware support after a few years wouldn't seem wrong at all in my eyes, they could easily explain it as a trade-off necessary for getting "10 forever". And Windows users were already used to not getting their feature update immediately on older hardware, an eventual escalation from late to never wouldn't have been surprising at all.
The boundaries you ask for have already been in place, long before 11.
> providing trusted computing that might actually work this time.
Ahah, sure. <Pinky & the Brain tune starts>
Only SSE4.2. It supports Intel CPUs without AVX2 since that was missing from some Celeron/Pentiums.
One follow-on question - any insights into how what you wrote above explains why Microsoft dropped support for AMD Zen in Win11 (Zen+ and higher are only supported)? Looking at Wikichip, it doesn't seem like there's a feature missing, so perhaps there's an unfixable bug in Zen?
So Microsoft is going all in with hardware based security while everyone is still recovering from Spectre and Meltdown and dropping in additional layers of software fix CPU security flaws? Is there a betting pool somewhere on how long that will take to backfire?
I think I might upgrade one VM and see. Then leave most of my computers alone for now. It will take them a bit to shake out the quirks on this. It took them about 2 cycles to get win10 into a usable state. Which is fairly typical of them 'wait until service pack 2'.
Why? It's not like Windows 10 will suddenly stop working for you. That will keep being supported until 2025 which, at 10 years total, is quite plenty. Sure, you won't get any of the new shiny features of Win 11 but if you're PCs are so old, then you won't need them anyway.
Also, feel free to switch you and your family to Linux.
To be fair, Windows 10 will be 10 years old at that time and their PC will be over 11 years old which is an eternity in technology time. 11 year old HW is not very energy efficient and is often vulnerable to various side channel attacks that need SW mitigations which make them even slower. Newer HW is more secure, while being more energy efficient to boot. Even if Microsoft would continue support for ancient hardware, the chances are Nvidia and AMD would drop driver support for what they consider to be legacy hardware, like they alwasy do.
I also keep my 15 year old PC (Core 2 Quad) going for my parents but I moved it to Linux as I can't expect Microsoft to keep supporting such old hardware for free forever and at some point, the SW and HW industry have to keep moving forward and that sometimes means removing support for legacy stuff even if that means cutting some users with old hardware off (they still can keep using their systems after all, just not run the latest and greatest SW).
Is Apple doing better officially supporting hardware overs 10 years old?
No its not. For casual use, 15 year old PC is very much fine and works perfectly in many use cases ie for our parents. You may swap for SSD but that's it, it can be blazingly fast for the tasks required.
Forcing everybody to move into Linux when they can barely handle Windows is quite a stretch, there might be licences to software which won't work, same for hardware. Lets not forget whole world isn't on HN level of computer expertise to debug issues.
I doubt it. The first Athlon 64 was launched late 2003.
Nobody is forcing you to do anything. You can keep using whatever HW and OS you have as long as you wish. What's your point?
It's a rolling release, so with 21H1 it's only half a year old.
And I don't care what they do. It will be the last Windows for me.
To be fair, the PC won't be that old. Every single machine with Zen (1st gen Ryzen and Threadrippers), for example.
Come, now, we all know it's mostly hobbyists keeping 15+ year old PCs running with Linux
I had a bunch of old Dell Precision workstations and I eventually got shot of them because my electric bills were becoming more and more eye-watering. I built a cheap PC that (with virtualisation) can carry out all these old machines workloads and more, and my power bills were a fraction of what they were previously. Quite an eye opener for me with regards to how energy efficient new stuff is.
I love fighting planned obsolescence and reducing e-waste by repairing and keeping stuff working as long as possible but at some point old hardware should be replaced if funds allow it for the sake of energy efficiency and the environment.
Aye, I was thinking more about older desktop machines rather than laptops, which by their nature are designed to be as power efficient as possible to extend how long you can run off of just the battery.
And again just to restate to others, it's worth upgrading if you can afford it. After I dumped those old Dells, I reckon I saved the nearly the price of a whole PC each year after kitting out with newer gear (until the price of electric went up again).
Apropos Windows 11, it seems there may be ways around the TPM requirements, though not ideal:
While this is true, Windows 8.1 started to pester me about my hardware constantly on an older (but not old at the time) PC when it was getting towards EOL with an obnoxious popup.
I think there weren't that many advances in raw speed. The only thing it is missing is HEVC hardware decoding (i don't remember if it has h.264, possibly not)
What I'm trying to say: 10 years is not that much for computers these day?
It's hard to do that on the "rolling release" Win10 model, which is actually why I liked it. There was sort of an implication that if it was "the last version of Windows" then I probably would be fine with my current hardware for quite a while.
But major version upgrades have always had the risk of your hardware going obsolete with them.
Just smells like an excuse for forced obsolescence to me.
It could very well be that old timers behind Windows 10 are getting tired of the new blood getting in their way. So they let things progress in a way that would let them stab the Windows 11 people in the back and swoop in to save the day with Windows 12.
During the development of Windows 8 this code was discovered by a select and secret group of people. However, it was impossible to stop the scripts, silently executing on servers which are running in inaccessible concrete enclosures in Redmond since the 90s.
Cutting power supply or opening the enclosure to get to these servers would severely damage other critical hardware so they started soft countermeasures. Unaware developers would spread Windows 10 as the "last" Windows release but the operation to mitigate the Windows 11 terror could not be endangered by exposing this information.
To avoid global customer confusion, they chose their own strategy to deal with the sudden upgrade to "Windows 11" in 2021. They took the narrative into their own hands and jumped from Windows 8 directly to Windows 10, inventing some plausible story about why Windows 9 was missing. This way, the automated upgrade to Windows 11 could be masqueraded as their own choice
Edit: ok wait this could be an episode of Silicon Valley although I haven’t see the last season
Instead of getting Windows 10 support on that hardware indefinitely now they're done in 2025.
Mostly around Windows 11-ready machines.
So I agree with marketing experts, but Apple's probably not the catalyst, selling laptops is.
- No quality
As you say, there is no apparent technical goal behind Windows 11.
See this list of processors:
and this blog post:
I can empathize. As a consumer, though, I'm not sure I like it. I've got a lot of machines on Windows 10 LTSC that will be looking for a new OS in 2029, that may or may not require a hardware replacement...
I would welcome it if the freed resources were actually used to make Windows better for the user, but I doubt that will be the case.
This is extremely revisionist. Microsoft did a two-tiered badging program for Vista: Vista Capable and Vista Ready. They originally only had a single tier: Vista Ready.
Vista Ready hardware had WDDM drivers, adequate RAM, and capable enough graphics to run Aero. Such hardware could run any version of Vista. Vista Capable badging was introduced later which meant the hardware could only really run Home Basic which didn't support Aero. This badging program was for hardware sold contemporaneously with Vista's lease.
Millions of Vista Capable machines were sold that were honestly barely able to run even the Home Basic version of the OS. OEMs ended up having to offer downgrades to XP because of Vista's performance problems. Out of the box it ran slower than XP on the same exact hardware. Lots of third party software ran slower on Vista vs XP.
Vista was a terrible release of Windows. People that had problems with it weren't just people with old hardware upgrading. If you ran it on a high end system you probably didn't run into many of its performance issues. It basically brute forces it's way to usability. For many millions of others Vista was a shit show.
On the other hand, Vista did provide a mass market platform that could be a great scapegoat for the 64-bit transition. Everyone needed new drivers anyway.
As I recall, the XP-64 product was basically a painted over Windows Server release that was basically a non-starter.
Feels like launching something will always be seen as a positive. Or are there examples that say otherwise?
Like at what point is launching anything ever seen as a negative because it seems even the people in charge of the biggest disasters seem to do fine afterwards and just move on to a job at the next megacorp no problem.
It could just be a coincidence that macOS went from being version 10 to 11 last year, but it could very well not be.
Because in 2020, after many years at 10, macOS bumped its version up to 11. 
But regardless, no one ever really mentioned the numbers. There was a hard announcement of the new OSX/macOS version every year with a flashy new name, first cats, then California locations. I don't think anyone ever considered OSX a rolling release in the same way Windows 10 was.
(GCC too, and, technically, X)
Then we got MacOS 11 and, well, here we are.
Fun fact: Microsoft never said this. Instead it was picked up by the media somehow and Microsoft simply chose never to correct anyone on it. My source is the Security Now podcast.
I'd respect them more if they just said "yeah, we said it would be the last one, but you know what... We reckon we can do better. This one goes to ELEVEN!"
There, that's your marketing done as well, Microsoft. So they changed their minds. Wow, it's almost like they're human beings or something! It wouldn't be nearly as noteworthy as denying it is already proving to be...
Also, how much influence do board members have on code of an OS anyways? All code must be written in Rust type of decisions. You must refactor these 10 lines into a function to be used later kind of decisions? That seems way too boots on the ground for a 30k' view type of position/job description.
My comment about "building things cleanly" is more about making a clean break from the past. It's not in their DNA, and since Windows 11 is doing that, I expect they'll hit some bumps in the road.
As for being a "one-off" issue was whether the bugs resulting from the clean break process are just a few, or if there is a whole host of issues that are about to crop up due to the big changes that have been made.
Windows 11 is technically simpler than 10, (not sure what the LOC counts are like though), but when changing/removing a bunch of things, I expect they will have issues. It's hard to do when your history is adding things for new features and keeping old code for compatibility - different process & different thinking.
 - I'm ignoring WSL here as a whole because I'm not familiar with the architecture yet.
I'm using Windows 11 Enterprise and upgraded from Windows 10 Enterprise with no activation prompts etc. (VS/MSDN W10 Enterprise key from work)
Supposedly that isn't something Microsoft actually said. A "random member of the press" started that.
FOMO looking at Apple? I don't know.
Making it slightly whataboutism-ish, the same thing happened with Apple. When Apple transitioned from PoerPC to Intel, they kept 10.x because changing architectures kinda sorta wasn't a big deal for Apple. Same happened with 32bit -> 64bit transition. Same with HFS->APFS transition. It was no big deal.
With Mac OS 11 though? It's the same OS that is slowly circling down the drain after years of neglect. The only thing that is different is the new architecture. Which wasn't a big deal 15 years ago, and now for some reason it is.
Same thing at Microsoft? "We have to be seen as moving forward with a system we have no idea what to do about"?
S/he who pays the bill will have his will.
The rolling release can not hide that Windows had internal architecture rot driven by those who paid the bills (add-tech & stasi-spy-department).
By the way, this comment is posted from Windows 11. Trust me when I tell you that this isn't ready for most of the general public. It is still for early adopters willing to suck up problems. I'd wait until March 2022 or more, and then see where it is at.
While they've made some positive moves forward UI wise, this still definitely feels like an insider build. I've had the DWM crash a few of times, requiring a hard reboot twice (even CTRL+ALT+Del or Win+Ctrl+Shift+B didn't work, while my mouse cursor still moved). That's more times than Windows 10's entire life.
Plus it is missing very "101"/polish features (e.g. just today I discovered that moving pinned start menu icons between pages was impossible, you have to move it to the start of the second page then delete icons from the first page).
But if what you say is difficult in Windows 11, it's going to be a bumpy ride
First time I've heard of this shortcut - seems to reboot the video driver in case of any graphics glitches. May come in handy, thx!
sort of, but not really: https://superuser.com/a/1497556
I dislike the interface changes but I haven't liked changes since Windows 7 so I'm just in grumpy old man territory it seems.
What is the hardware configuration you're experiencing these problems on?
I'm on supported hardware too. 3700X/2070 Super. Completely vanilla system.
AKA suckers. Why do free beta testing for Microsoft?
It is a direction change and if you could run it in a VM on older hardware I would. The official launch ISO won't boot while a dev version from the week before launch loads up in Hyper V fine.
Luckily I could revert to win10.
So while Windows 11 is "out" right now, it seems to be for people on the windows insider program, and will be slowly rolled out to the public into next year.
I was burned by my first laptop, a lovely netbook with dGPU where the CPU hobbled everything you could drain the battery before finishing a level in Halo 2 PC. It took a few iterations for that low power CPU mobile gaming platform to balance out.
But yea if you have support for Win11, then why not clean install it anyway.
Problems with the thread migration to certain classes of CPUs I can kind of understand, that's still fairly new code for windows, but how it can slow down the L3 cache in the described way is a bit of a mystery to me.
There's big hairy problems down in the tiny little details there that are easy to have come out and eat you.
So I would guess, as the previous reply does, that it's probably somehow linked to the threading issue.
I'm more completely put off by all the half baked UI decisions especially with the task bar and the explorer. They're really really bad. I hope updates will fix it. I don't mean "oh this is ugly" I mean "this feature I used to use is just gone or takes multiple clicks to use now"
Windows 10 was a good windows. Not perfect, but it's been pretty good. I thought maybe we escaped from this cycle when they announced Windows 10 would be the last windows, but I've expected 11 to very likely be a pile of crap since I first heard it announced.
Windows 12 will be the one to look out for.
(They do have a platform they can do something other than "be a good operating system" from... it's just it rests on the foundation of having a good operating system. They seem to neglect their foundation every other major release.)
Me was just a buggy piece of trash, maybe it would have gotten fixed, but XP was around the corner. Speaking purely from personal experience—had a desktop running Me, it’s the only time I ever saw Explorer crash.
Vista’s actually a decent Windows. The changes to security that broke a bunch of apps and made pop-ups everywhere stuck around, they just got polished a bit in later Windows, it would have been fine if Vista had a longer life.
Windows 8 had the Metro UI and introduced a ton of misguided changes around the assumption that people will be using touch—changes which were often half-implemented at best, so even if you had a touchscreen (I developed for these), you had to constantly switch between the Metro and desktop interfaces. A lot of those changes got unwound in 8.1 and 10.
IMO the bad ones are Me and 8. Anything that fixed 8’s problems would have gotten a new version number.
10 became good over time.
8 was crap, and stayed crap with 8.1.
7 became good over time.
Vista was crap.
XP became good over time.
By "good" I don't mean perfect. But Windows 95 was good, 98 was good, XP was amazing compared to what there was at the time, 7 was good, and 10 was good. Vista was immediately a bomb from the moment I first saw its desktop that looked like a not even particularly good Linux desktop theme . ME was a buggy mess from start to finish. 8 wasn't as much of a disaster but the whole attempt to merge tablet UI and desktop UI was just fundamentally flawed.
Windows being Windows I'm sure tons of people can pop up with stories about how their first install of XP ate their entire hard drive and also killed their dog, but generally I think it's pretty obvious pretty quickly which way a version of Windows is going to go.
One of the major markers of a bad version of Windows is that it's made for Microsoft's needs and not the users. If another comment in this discussion is accurate and Windows 11 is primarily so they can dump a lot of hardware, dump old booting code for non-UEFI boots, etc., then that suggests to me they don't have a strong through-line on what the value for the user is, which is going to lead to sadness. Even though those goals are good and ultimately even necessary in the long haul, that's not going to be a set of requirements that leads to a good Windows.
: This one floors me to this day. Like, I don't really have a lot of visual taste and I've run some pretty awful Linux desktop themes back in my younger years for a period of time. My current desktop is a tiling WM and so utilitarian it burns to look at for most people. And that Vista desktop... yeowzers! It was like they pulled a random theme off of a desktop theming site and they got babbies first uploaded theme.
Windows 2000 came before XP and was as good imo.
Explorer has completely made the right click useless that had a lot of utilities I used and now it takes 2 clicks to access them. The icons are fine but they removed all customisation like adding images to the icons which I used for improved readability
All this and it's not even consistent. The windows defender screen is still the old one. The eject disk menu is as old as windows 7. The improvements are inconsistent and as a result, extremely ugly to me. Also you can't even see seconds on the time. Basic crap like this is missing. Why...
Someone will probably make a quick fix that returns tat functionality heh
Changing a line in a config file to put the waybar anywhere I please, and storing that config file in a dotfiles repo so that the next time I need to set up a machine. Bliss.
Not to mention I had no idea what the right click icons meant when I first starting using it, is that copy? Is that paste?
It's like the completely self-inflicted footgunning that they already committed a few years ago when they bought Skype and then immediately renamed their not-compatible enterprise chat system Skype for Business.
No one uses a computer to stare at OS UI design. No one cares about your new taskbar.
I want to start Windows up, launch my applications and not crash.
Give me security and performance fixes without messes with what works
This is quite bad considering how Microsoft was upfront about Windows 11 being better designed for Intel's Alder Lake CPUs which have two distinct core types. So it's incredibly weird that Windows 11 would interfere with AMD's preferred core technology since it's comparatively normal. It's pretty obvious that regression testing on AMD platforms just wasn't done.
Before upgrading to Windows 11, I had all kinds of problems with Windows 10.
- When I a turned on the computer it took longer to log into Windows.
- Apps would open more slowly sometimes I would even have bugs with the Xbox app lagging.
- When I put my computer to sleep by shuting the laptop's lid and come back later sometimes the laptop wouldn't even turn the screen on and I had to forcefully shut it down.
Microsoft have been seriously failing on the Windows Update front for decades.
It's unsupported but works just fine. The trick on how to do it is embarrassingly simple. Just download both the Windows 10 and Windows 11 ISOs, replace the "install.wim" in the Windows 10 ISO with the one from the Windows 11 ISO (it's conveniently the same file name) and run the setup.
The upgrade works just fine since the Windows 10 installer doesn't check for supported hardware, TPM or secure boot.
Really goes to show how all that TPM, secure boot and CPU support business is just a marketing ploy to increase hardware sales...
I assume you meant Windows 10 to Windows 11? Because that's exactly what I described. The setup on the Windows 10 ISO (once you replaced the "install.wim" with the Window 11 file) will perform an in-place upgrade. All programs, data and settings are preserved.
1 - https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/whats-new/whats-new...
2 - https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/whats-new/whats-new...
Windows NT good
Windows 98 bad
Windows 2000 good
Windows Me bad
Windows XP good
Windows Vista bad
Windows 7 good
Windows 8 bad
Windows 10 good
Windows 11 bad
From the Windows 3.11 to Windows ME/2000 era there where the DOS and NT kernel editions, both available at the same time.
I believe the missing Windows 98 SE was generally considered good, and the version many people kept using while XP was popular.
XP was not considered good at first, but had substantial improvements in SP2 and SP3.
Windows 8.1 didn't leave much of an impression, but was pretty workable.
I booted into Windows for the first time in a while a few days ago. I was reminded that last time I logged out I was forced to install an upgrade.
I was met with a screen forcing me to connect my user account with my Microsoft account. No way out of the process. I didn't know the password to my Microsoft account since I never use it for anything. I couldn't reset the password because my computer was locked and demanding a Microsoft account. I don't have any email access on my phone because it's so hard to secure. Had to shut down the computer and boot into Debian to reset my Microsoft password. Then I booted back into Windows, signed in, went into the control panel and signed out again.
What the actual fuck. Who thought this process was a good idea?
Windows 3.0 Good (and made windows commercially successful)
Windows 3.1 Good
Windows 95 Good
Windows 98 Bad
Windows 98SE Good
Windows ME Very Bad (they removed DOS mode for god sake!)
Windows 2000 Good
Windows XP Good
Windows Vista Bad
Windows 7 Good
Windows 8 Bad
Windows 8.1 Mixed
Windows 10 Good
Windows 11 Bad
Seems very tick-tocky but there are exceptions.
It's a classic example of something changing significantly under the hood but not being very visually obvious.
if 98SE was a service pack it would be the largest feature increase in a service pack of any Windows service pack, iirc it brought native USB printer+storage support and firewire support to the OS.
Though I was a kid at the time (barely 10 years old), I just remember 98 and 98SE disks floating about and people not upgrading their windows 95 machines until SE came out.
ME was the last version of the Dos based windows versions. Versions 1 and 2 most people barely remember. Version 3.0, 3.1 and 3.11 were pretty close together and the first versions that were more widely used. Then windows 95 was obviously the big one in that series but quite buggy as well initially thus necessitating service packs. 98 and 98SE were relatively minor upgrades to that and thus quite alright. ME was an attempt to bridge the gap to the much delayed XP and as such quite pointless since it was buggy and would have also included a lot of misguided stuff around internet explorer that has since been long forgotten and that obviously was omitted for XP. Somehow MS got into their heads that the browser was the OS, which in MS land meant stuff like active desktop, which as I recall was horribly slow even if you could get to run it at all (no in my case). And when you did there was a "and now what ... " moment as well.
XP was the successor to Windows NT 3.1, 3.5, 3.51, 4.0, and 2000 Each of which were pretty OK. To complicate things further they started doing separate releases for servers as well from 3.1. I use NT 3.1 for development work at some point. Pretty nice machine as I remember. Never gave me much trouble.
XP was where they cut loose from DOS mostly and by then nobody, including MS, had appetite for yet more releases. So, they doubled down with service packs and fixed bugs only for quite a few years. Nevertheless, in terms of stability XP was a huge upgrade from the dos based varieties in terms of stability which is why people remember it fondly. But especially before service pack 2, many people were sticking with windows 2000 in companies. I had a nice windows 2000 desktop for quite some time at work.
By the time they released Vista, it was so horrible that many opted to not upgrade since there was no big need. Especially enterprises said thanks but no thanks and kept on defaulting to XP right until MS pulled the plug on that many years later. They had the same issue with windows 7 and 8. Which is why they made windows 10 a longer term thing and made an effort to get companies upgrading. I predict that this will be an issue with windows 11 as well. Most enterprises like uniform environments and they don't want to have to support multiple versions of windows. So, windows 10 is going to be here for a while.
however I'm not sure if 8.1 really bucks the trend, Wikipedia says reception was negative/mixed.
It's effectively 10 minus DirectX12
Most Windows were fixed later though with service packs etc. So this list should be taken with a grain of salt of course
Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 2, bad
Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 3, good
Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 4, bad
Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 5, good
Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 6, bad
Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 6a, less bad
(more seriously, iirc NT/2k were a substantially different codebase which got merged with the 95/98/me line to produce XP)