I'm not sure if you're joking or not...but here goes:
First of all there is the issue of stability. Win98se is by far the most stable. I'm not sure if you have used all of the OS's, but win95 and win98 were not very stable. For the sake of argument we won't even consider WinME since the consensus is that it sucks. I couldn't even get it to work correctly. My time was worth more to me so I had to give it up. I couldn't wait for them to get devices to work with the OS.
WinXP, which I'm using today is probably the one I'd recommend. I don't know how different hardware reacts to different OS's, but if you're running anything above a PII-350 I'd go the XP route. Anything less and I'd get Win98se. Hopefully we aren't talking about something pre-pentium. I can't speak on behalf of anything that old.
I could give specific feature advantage/disadvanteges, but stability it probably the deciding factor.
Stability is one point between Win95-98 and the others. Also, Win95 doesn't support USB by default. Needs OSR2 I believe (or something like that). However Win98 and above OS's support it. Personally, I use WinMe. Tried both Win98 (regular; not SE) and WinMe. I didn't notice any differance during gaming. Both OS gave me similar 3DMark 2001 marks as well (3200 in WinMe, 3210 in Win98). So, I use WinMe. I don't bother about the big hardware demands of ME since I'm usin' 1GHz T-Bird+DDR.
It's pretty much getting harder and harder to find updates for 95 as well. A friend of mine is still using win 95 and he has to do quite a bit of hunting to find the updates he needs. Afraid it's gonna be a dinosaur before long.
Win 95 uses much less CPU overhead than Windows 98. That's why you can run Win95 on a 486 but need some kind of Pentium to get the same speed out of Win98. But that's not the whole story.
Win 95 had versions A and B. Version A was 16-bit with some 32-bit interpreted code. Win95 version B was 32-bit and thus much faster when installed on a 32-bit partition. Having the FAt32 format was the key to the speed increase of version B, since most drives were still formatted in Fat16, people thought that Win98 was faster because they were upgrading file sytems at the same time as operationg systems.
I build enought systems to know that Win95 version B is FAR faster than Win98, when it's on a 32-bit partion.
Now you needed one of the last three versions of Win95 to get proper USB support (2.1, 2.2, 2.5). Of course 2.5 was the best.
When Windows 98 came out it was simply win95 with a few extra features added, most noticeably the ones from the "plus" package for win95. Active desktop was part of IE4 included on 98, but this update can also be used on 95. And 98 had better support for AGP and USB. But lots of bugs. So 98SE came out with all the bug fixes, plus Internet Connection Sharing.
Why do I use 98SE if 95 ver.2 is faster? It's easier to set up my AGP card on.
What is this you here of Win95 and 98 being unstable?
Win95 ver. 2 and Win98SE are both almost perfectly stable! The people who have problems seem to all own VIA or SiS equiped motherboards. Coincidence? In SiS defence they have recently decided to change direction and released the greatly improved 735 chipset.
Crashman, the only time I've ever felt "stable" in a Windows environment has been using NT or 2000. It is NOT just people with a VIA or SiS equipped platform that have stability problems in windows. I was a computer aide in my college dorm not too long ago, and most of the problems I encountered were from people with intel chipset motherboards(of course, most of the students there were on intel platforms anyway).
My mother owns a PIII 667 on an i810 mobo, and that damn thing is not only slow as hell, but maddeningly unstable. I've reinstalled the OS on that thing so many times I finally got Norton Ghost to ease my installation pains. I'm sure there must be some kind of conflict in the system that keeps murdering Windows 98SE, but I guess I'm not l337 enough to find it. Bottom line - windows = unstable on Intel chipset. Maybe it's the USB networking One day I will simply switch out the motherboard and processor and tell her I 'fixed' her computer.
For myself, I only own one VIA based board at the moment(although I have used VIA boards with Intel in the past)... an ABIT KT7 RAID. On win98SE it would die maybe 3 or 4 times a month... since going to win2k I have yet to have a single crash. At least now I'm 100% sure that any stability problems I had were due to windows and not my AMD/VIA hardware.
I don't know what your definition of stability is, but win95 and win98 have never met my expectations of stability.
"Laziness is a talent to be cultivated like any other" - Walter Slovotsky
I have to concurr, win 95 and 98 were unstable garbage. I mean on both of thoseI kept getting windows protection error every other time I turned it on/ restarted. Installing win95 and 98 were a daily thing for me. Now that I got my new comp and win2k, not a single problem.
I did have problems with the 810 chipset. Since most people in here don't use it, I keep forgetting about it. MY definition of stability is "my computer only crashes when I overclock it too far". I usually leave my computer on for several weeks before I decide to make changes to it, which necessitates a reboot. My mom has had her old ALI equiped system going for about 6 months now without a reboot using Win95. And I have not had any instability problems with Win98SE since I gave up on VIA. Sometimes I do have problems with drivers, but once a driver problem is fixed, I'm back to 100% stable. Same goes for certain programs, the "free" ones seem to come at the highest cost. But it's been so long since i've used a program that destablized my system that I can't even remember which one it was.
I had that problem with my last VIA motherboard, and have not seen it since I went to two quality Intel chipset motherboards. My CUSL2 is completely stable. My Blaster PC (shuttle produced the motherboard for Creative) was also completely stable. I did have one app that came with the Blaster PC that was not stable, somewhere in the Creative Liveware, so I didn't use that app.
stability isnt a word which should be applied to any of these OSs' without the word not... 2000 if you want a stable system, 95 is by far the fastest though will need a lot of work to get it to be compatible with modern systems
i have used win95, win98 and winME and my most stable of these was win95 running with a 486, consistantly getting uptimes of over a month. obviously nothing extreme but not bad for win95 with as many games as i played on it back then. win98 was the worst for me. ive heard a lot of bad comments about the stability of winME but i have had no problems with it. much better than win98. dont get me wrong, i think the OS sucks, especially with memory management. however, i honestly am starting to believe that a lot of people who complain about stability either dont know what they are doing or are tinkering a lot with there system.
or maybe its due to the fact that, for example, win95 was made several years ago and people want to try and use hardware that was made in 2001 when there is increasingly less support for win95?
and heres another idea. install your OS and keep all the additional software to a bare minimum. see how stable it is before you add a bunch of garbage software too it.
Me I've used em all but xp rather regularly. Some things I've found. (this is in regards to modern hardware/software not ancient stuff that doesn't do much) 95 is fine and dandy as long as you are running 95b or 95c. But it isn't as good as 98se. Mostly from a troubleshoot point of view. 98 is allot easier to fix and allot easier to config. I've discoverd this mostly because I always have to mess with my system to get it running just right. As far as games go 98se is the only option if you are wondering between 95 and 98. I run 98se on a via kt133 amd 700 and runs perfect no problem. My roomie runs on a BX and has never ever had a prob.
ME was impossible to get to work on my system. I figure why try it when 98se is easier to config and use and allot more freindly. Ditch ME and just run either 98se or XP.
As far as 2k goes it also runs perfect on my system. However I had to get the latest via 4 in 1 dirvers, updated vid drivers, update to sp2 and get the latest hcl in order for it to even consider doing what I wanted. Well after all this jive was done anyways it runs perfect, better then 98 but that is mostly because when I hit ctrlaltdel it actually does something.
My opinion of both supporting these various OS's and playing on them, 98se or 2k, or xp.
95 is going to die very very soon and ME (unless you luck out) is way to unstable and to much of a pain to tweak.