Windows is the operating system built and developed by Microsoft. It is by far the most widely used system by end users on their desktop computers, like at home, work, school, etc., but it’s far from flawless and its dominance has a number of downsides.
Personally I did not grow up using Windows at home, because my dad worked in IT and insisted on running Linux on all our computers. I was very familiar with Windows 2000 from school though. (Yes, that version in particular – right through to the end of the 2000s, my high school was still using that version.) I actually really wanted a computer that would run Windows, because I wanted to be able to play The Sims 2 like I did at my cousins’ house. When I was in year 11, my dad bought me a laptop that ran Windows Vista, and I kept that installed. A couple of years later he wanted to pass that laptop down to my mum, so he got me a newer laptop that ran Windows 7. For me that was basically the “golden age” of Windows, with 7 being the least irritating version they ever released. I did later have a little 11" ultraportable laptop that ran Windows 8, which was less good, and then when I upgraded it to Windows 10 the performance was so abominable that the device was no longer really usable. So yeah, that’s my personal history of running Windows.
Back in the day, Microsoft’s complacency about being the absolute dominant force in the world of personal computing made them really complacent. For example, once Internet Explorer 6 had like 95%+ market share they just basically stopped developing it, even though it was by far the least-featured and worst-performing browser out there in the mid- to late 2000s. Windows XP also had notoriously poor security and was ridiculously prone to getting infected with malware (which was the major reason my dad didn’t want any Windows computers in the house and only relented after Vista’s various security improvements).
Microsoft has a history of anticompetitive practices, although the fact that I’d say it’s now been overtaken by Google as the #1 most dominant company in personal computing (in general) has probably made it seem less of a problem. Nonetheless, they still have a recent history of trying to use their dominant position in the operating system space to engineer greater marketshare for their less popular products. For example, they really really want to make people use their homegrown search engine Bing, and also to use their new browser Edge, in the latter’s case to the point of making it really really hard to set anything else as your default browser, plus nagging you with spammy pop-ups.
I have a number of reasons for not running Windows any more. These include:
- really, really hating spammy pop-ups, ads in my Start panel, etc. These did not exist in Windows 7 but seemed unavoidable in later versions.
- feeling like I had to install third-party apps to do super basic things that did not need third-party apps to accomplish in Linux, like typing accented characters or taking screenshots without needing to open Paint and “paste” the screenshot on a new canvas. This might have changed since 2015ish but it annoyed me then for sure.
- Windows would slow the fuck down and become really non-performant once I’d had a computer for a couple of years, while Linux would always stay zippy. When I did switch back to Linux I did so in a dual-boot configuration, but I almost never ever booted into Windows again because it felt unusable in comparison.
- THE UPDATES. Jesus Christ the way Windows handles updates is godawful. In Linux it just updates everything and only recommends you restart if it installed a kernel update (and even then you don’t have to, you just keep using the old kernel until you do). In Windows it’s just loads of forced updates, and later versions of Windows (after I stopped using it) seemed to severely curtail your ability to choose when updates were performed, too (probably because updates are so annoying on Windows that people postpone them forever if they can, which creates security risks) – but the lack of choice means they get forced on you at really bad times, too. Also, they usually take forever.
- My main reason for wanting to use Windows – wanting to use apps, especially games, that weren’t available on Linux – has become way less of a “thing” as more and more apps are just cross-platform now, and even (single-player) games can almost always be played in Linux these days even if there isn’t an official Linux version because tools like PlayOnLinux and Steam’s own in-built compatibility layer, Proton, are just so good.