I am a dinosaur. The old is better.
I (proverbally-only) also am "from Missouri:" stubbornly resistant to change, and slow to catch on.
However, I am an aged-60+ post-graduate veteran of the been-there/done-that, tried-and-failed-and-retried School of Hard Knocks. So I know what I am talking about.
Therefore [my beloved children], to both the open-minded and innocent (and to the argumentatively insolent and defiantly prejudiced), my advice is to: get and keep and use Windows 98SE.
I know, I know. After my delight in mastering the utility files of DOS regarding what I discovered was the ultimate version of DOS (i.e. DOS 6.22) made available by Microsoft, I had previously espoused not the simpler-but-less-useful Windows 3.0 but instead Windows 3.11 - but that was then, and this is now.
That was before convenient 128MB-to-4GB jumpdrive flashdrives came on the scene, when I was still lauding the superiority of 3-1/2" bad-sectors-developing diskettes over the even-more-bad-sectors-developing 5-1/4" floppy disks, and when I wasn't quite into PCMCIA modem cards insertable laptops but was still utilizing the larger-unit 33kps-phoneline-speed 14.4-56K-max dial-up modems with my desktops compatible with Windows 3.11, Netscape 2.02, and Internet Explorer 3.02 and experiencing the limitations of them all.
Perhaps I should start from the beginning.
When a person turns on a computer, sometimes what appears automatically but temporarily on the black screen of the TV-like monitor is brief BIOS info, followed by the message: "Missing Operating System" on that black screen. What then needs to be done is to reboot the computer (turn it off and then back on), and observe what is necessary to get into the BIOS-adjustment screen (usually pressing the Del or Delete key on the keyboard or the F2 key). Press that key, and when in the BIOS-adjustment screen, adjust the setting to allow boot-up from a floppy diskette first and not the hard drive first.
Then turn off the computer, and make sure you have a 3-1/2" bootdisk with DOS 6.22 operating system files therein inserted into the diskette drive (total diskette-capacity size of everything less than 1.44 MB). Switch on the computer, boot-up will occur, and then the hard drive can be formatted with FORMAT.COM after which the operating system files can be transferred to the hard drive with SYS.COM (plus properly-coded CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files with OAKCDROM.SYS and MSCDEX.EXE put directly on the root drive for driving any CD-ROM drives the computer might have) and then DOS utility files transferred to a folder on the hard drive. Remove the boot diskette after transferring, then restart the computer. After that, use the operating system CDs from Windows 98SE and Windows 95 to build up a working graphical environment of Windows 98SE. I know that I am getting technical at this point, but you gurus and geeks already know about all this.
What I like a lot is the seamless transferability and compatibility of the DOS-based operating systems of PC Microsoft, rather than the deviant-replacement variations of operating systems in MAC and Apple.
Reluctantly I eventually got into Windows 95 but did enjoy the various photo-pictured desktops and the ease of creating and dragging icons, the taskbars and toolbars, the search-and-setup recognition capabilities of Windows 95 in accepting and automatically configuring add-in peripherals of all sorts. Why I had hesitated is because I did not like the idea of a central registry, and the vastly-increased complexity of the Windows 95 DOS-shell operating system.
Acquiring more modern and useful programs like some of the Bible-software programs, Screenhunter, Cleanup, Belarc, newer versions of Media Player, I discovered that Windows 95 required the addition of a folder of files called Internet Tools to allow those 32-bit programs to work with Windows 95. And some programs would not even work with that, giving me Kernel failure messages (which I finally found out resulted in a lack of vital files Windows 98SE automatically already contains).
With all due respect to his highness Bill Gates and the Windows 98SE Team, I bought a copy of Windows 98SE for $40.....and have never ever regretted it. The 98 Windows 98SE files of 121 MB I keep in some of my flashdrives on my keychain, but since the version of Windows 98SE I purchase was an upgrade, I also keep a folder of the 38 Windows 95 files of 34 MB required to build up a working graphic environment of Windows 98SE whenever an operating system is needed in response to the black-screen message: Missing Operating System.
Before I puff the merits of Win98SE, let me go beyond to Windows ME, 2000, and XP - all of which I have seen, used, manipulated, analyzed....and for the most part rejected as insufficient or needlessly large and complex.
I have tried to get a boot diskette of Windows ME time and again, but the utilities of previous operating systems of Windows which I normally use to do so do not make a boot disk but instead try to format the diskette. Moreover, I cannot restart in the computer in black-screen DOS mode with Windows ME. The ME defrag utility does defrag the hard drive quicker than the 95 and 98SE utility, and driver files for almost any flashdrive that could be inserted into a computer are already present, but other than that ME has no advantage over 95 and especially 98SE.
Both OEM-specific Windows 2000 and XP (plus Vista) are HTFS or NTFS partition operating systems, which I despise because they are not DOS shells and not DOS-compatible operating systems. In such, the C-drive is a phantom drive that "doesn't exist." There is no way to get out of the operating system and work outside it in any "Restart in DOS Mode" capacity in stark contrast to Windows 3.11, 95, and 98SE. Though OEM-specific XP is useful is eradicating the useless U-3 of the most recent Sandisk flashdrives, XP is way needlessly large and simplistically complex to conveniently use, and I do not like the layout, absence of a normal File Manager, and so on. The sooner I can boot up with a DOS 6.22 operating system diskette accepting diskette boot-up an XP computer and use the DOS 6.22 FDISK.EXE to get into the black screen options and re-partition the hard drive to eradicate the NON-DOS (XP) partition, the better. I would not even think of toying with bad-reputation OEM-specific Vista.
Free flashdrive driver files for all sorts of identifiably-sourced flashdrives to use with Windows 98SE can be downloaded on the internet using Google keywords search, but sometimes are a bit tricky to set up (like having to use the Hard Disk Controller option) for setup, with 98SE stating the misleading warning: "The driver files you have chosen might not work" or something like that.....but they work anyway.
Recently, I discovered the availability of free programs downloadable on the internet for cleaning up the registry of Windows 98SE. What an improvement in speed! But rather than letting such reside on my hard drives on my computers and expire, I launch them, clean up the registry with them, then remove them with Uninstaller but keep a copy of the programs in a master folder on my flashdrives for future temporary use. The same goes for my DOS-based antivirus and antispyware programs which are not allowed to stay operating on the hard drive to muck up my computer speed and efficiency but instead are temporarily used, uninstalled, then stored away in directory folders.
Hopefully this info has been helpful not only for computer novices but for some of you experienced gurus and geeks as well.