The Windows 21H1 update, and why I won’t miss Windows 10X


Disclosure Microsoft is a client of the author.

I started focusing on Windows as an external analyst in 1994, during the ramp-up to Windows 95. In fact, 1995 was a near-magical time for me as the lead launch analyst for Windows; it turned my first and only year at Dataquest into a traveling and media extravaganza.

Reminder: in 1995, laptops were not very useful. They cost a fortune, had no performance, and battery life was measured in minutes. There wasn’t yet a build-it-yourself desktop option, hardware was kept for more than five years, and with desktops and monitors, you could have any color you liked, as long as it was sickly beige. 

Each beta version of Windows 95 led to hours of shuffling floppy disks and resolving driver and application incompatibilities; coupled with regular crashes, these problems invariably erased all progress with whatever you were writing if you didn’t save files regularly. I did my first system build that year and discovered that restoring from a backup was painfully long and incredibly annoying when you fried a hard drive. (The motherboard wouldn’t fit in the case due to the lack of standards at the time.)

Still, Windows 95 was an improvement over DOS/Windows, and the actual launch was an event I’ll never forget. 

Experiences with Windows have changed dramatically over the last decade, with none of the train-wreck moments created by Windows Millenium, Vista, or Windows 8. Windows 10 has been very stable, far more secure, and comparatively a dream to work with. I’d thought Microsoft was going to make another mistake with Windows 10X — which was due to be announced this month — but the company changed its mind. And Windows 21H1 (I just installed it this week), has so far proven to be a pleasant surprise. 

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