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Transcript (The One Microsoft Windows Video to Rule Them All)

Arnox

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Windows 98 SE Download:

Windows 98 SE KernelEx Download:

Windows 2000 Download:

Titan X Windows XP Driver Install Instructions:

Windows XP Certificate Updater v.1.6:

Steam Client Latest Version:

Steam Client November 2018 Build:

Steam Package Files for Steam Client November 2014:

Steam PackageInfoConverter Tool:

Instructions for Installing Steam on Windows XP:

Global List of Drivers, Updates, and Programs for Windows XP:

Windows Vista Ultimate Upgrades and All Updates:

Windows Vista Kernel Extender:

Windows 7 and 8.1 Updates Block Bypass (wufuc):

Windows 7 Extended Security Updates Install Instructions:

Open Shell Windows 8.1 GUI Enhancement Tool:

The Windows 8 to 7 Restoration Pack

Microsoft Uses GWX Update to Force Windows 10 Installation:

Why Windows 10 Updates are Not Tested/No Longer Reliable:

Windows 10 Update Breaks Windows Servers:

Windows 10 Update Deletes User Files:

Windows 10 Forces Users to Update Regardless of User Configuration or Settings:

TechBench by WZT Microsoft ISO Download Site:

HeiDoc.net Windows ISO Downloader:

AeroGlass Download:

Windows 10 Ameliorated Download:

Windows 11 Professional Will Also Need an Internet Connection to Install:

Windows 11 Programs Stop Working Without Certificate:

Microsoft Makes Edge Incredibly Irritating to Remove as the Default Browser:

Windows 11 Forced Watermark on Unsupported PCs:

Microsoft Testing Ads in Windows 11 Explorer:

Windows 11 StartAllBack Download:

Windows 11 Start11 Download:

Windows 11 Start Menu X Download:

Windows 11 EdgeDeflector Download:

Windows 11 ThisIsWin11 Download:

An operating system isn’t something most people think about. The average person gets their computer from Best Buy or Amazon or whatever and just uses whatever is installed on it to do office or class work while maybe watching videos and checking social media on it. Some may just do a very cursory check of the OS to see if it has the latest Windows on it. Some may not even know what Windows even IS though they use it every day. And then you got freaks like me who have been using Windows incredibly extensively for years and know the limits and strengths of each version. But whatever your experience level is though… The operating system is quite literally the first and MOST IMPORTANT piece of software you will ever install and run on any computer, hands down. This is why I and so many other people care about this sort of thing so much.

In this video, I’ll be going over each major Windows version and will be talking about their various pros and cons. Although your first instinct would naturally be, “Well, why even bother talking about past versions? Isn’t the latest Windows version always the best one?” And it would be perfectly natural to ask that… But Microsoft has lately decided to make things far more difficult for users than they need to be, and it’s no longer so clear-cut as, “Well, just run the latest Windows version!” even though I wish it was.

To illustrate this, let’s take a version of Windows that many would call, “old as the hills.” Windows XP. This version first came out back in 2001. It’s over two decades old. Clearly then, it should be dirt cheap. Who the hell cares about this version anymore anyway? Except uh, for a brand new retail copy of the Professional version of XP, it’s… $180 as of this writing. Fine, how about the same thing except not sealed? … $150.

Ohhhhkaayyy…

Now, to be fair, that is a boxed retail copy of the OS, and if you want, you can just get an OEM key (more on all of this later) of the OS for much cheaper. Still though… Old Windows operating systems are still in some demand. So, we’re gonna go over all these versions from Windows 98 Second Edition to Windows 11 and why some people give a shit (or don’t) about them. We’ll start with some general guidelines that apply to all Windows versions first. Or, if you like, you can just skip to the section you want as the video is heavily time-stamped for your pleasure.

Of course though, operating systems are probably some of the most absolute monolithic pieces of software ever created, so there’s bound to be some quirks and info about specific Windows versions that this video won’t cover. Nevertheless, I have done my absolute best to cover all the important points and things most interesting to talk about with each version in this video.

I do have a small confession to make before we continue though. I tried to make the visuals in this video as appealing as possible, but… The transcript alone is over 20 pages long. The voiceover is probably going to be over 40 minutes long. I tried, but I can’t do that much editing, lads. This video needs to come out this year, so please have mercy on me for the long stretches of still images. I tried to make them as pretty and as appropriate to their respective video sections as possible, but it’s just me doing all of this entirely for free in my spare time so please have mercy. Ok, now back to the video.
 
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Arnox

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The immediate thing you should know about Windows is how activation works and the four licensing schemes that tie into that. So, in order to validate that you do own A copy of Windows and that you’re actually installing the version that you bought, you need to do what is called, “activation.” To activate Windows, you need a product key. This is a string of text and numbers that is wholly unique to the copy of Windows that you bought. Now, there are four different kinds of Windows product keys that correspond directly to how exactly you can install that Windows copy otherwise called, “your license to use Windows.” If that sounds a little confusing, it’s not. Don’t worry. To summarize, when you buy a copy of Windows, what you’re really buying is a LICENSE to use Windows, and that product key proves that you bought that license. That is all.

Now, we’re gonna go over the four kinds of product keys. And yes, the first two are important, but the second two, you can skip if you just want to get Windows for personal use since the last two only concern our enterprise viewers out there and also those who are simply curious.

And the one we’re gonna talk about first, since it’s the simplest, is a “Retail” key of Windows. A retail copy of Windows gives you one product key that you can use to install and activate Windows on any one computer. The key is transferrable to other computers as well. The only restriction is that it can only be used with one computer at any one time. This is the most desirable and publicly available kind of product key to get for Windows, and the most expensive, and you’ll see why shortly here.

The second kind of product key is called an “OEM” key. This key is just like the retail key with one big difference. When you use this key to activate Windows on one computer, that’s it. The key is “used up”, as in, the key is registered with Microsoft servers and becomes tied to your specific motherboard in your computer. If you try to use the key to activate Windows on a PC that has any other motherboard whatsoever, the key will fail. Now, you can use it to reinstall Windows on the PC you activated it with, but that’s it. It’s a one-use key for one PC. Hence why they are a lot cheaper than retail keys.

The last two licenses are ones that Microsoft sells only through contracts. They are the Key Management Server or KMS license which uses a KMS host key to activate, and the MAK license which uses a Multiple Activation Key to activate.

With the KMS license, computers in a local network use generic and publicly available KMS client setup keys to get through the installation process and then activate using an also locally set up KMS host server. The KMS host server activates the PCs only after it ITSELF is activated by Microsoft using a valid KMS host key, also formally called a Microsoft Customer Specific Volume License Key. KMS host keys can be used to activate up to six KMS hosts with 10 activations per host, so they are not really unlimited use themselves, but can be in use indefinitely as long as the host hardware hasn’t changed.

The fourth license is the Multiple Activation Key license. Compared to the KMS setup described above, it’s dead simple. A Multiple Activation Key is exactly what it says on the tin and can be used to activate any computer whatsoever a certain number of times. The amount of times a MAK can be used for activations depends entirely on the contract that was negotiated between the business and Microsoft.

Something interesting to know is that the KMS activation model is one that probably has been abused the most by pirates using hacked or emulated KMS server software to activate Windows for free. And one more thing to note. There are also product keys called “Generic” keys for each Windows versions that will get you through installation but cannot be used to activate Windows.

OK, let’s go over the different editions of Windows, but first, some terminology. When I say “version”, I mean Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and etc. And when I say “edition”, I mean a variant of that version. So Home Retail edition, Professional Upgrade edition, Tablet PC OEM Edition, and etc. Now, with almost all Windows versions, there are sub-variants of the different global editions of Retail and Upgrade and OEM such as Home or Professional or Enterprise or Ultimate, but we won’t discuss those exact editions right now since those are version-specific. So with that out of the way, we got three global editions of each Windows version that you can buy.

First, there is the Retail edition which contains a copy of Windows that can be installed on a computer that doesn’t have any Windows installed on it and comes with a retail license key. Then there is the OEM edition which contains a copy of Windows that can be installed on a computer without Windows and has an OEM key with it. And then there’s an Upgrade edition which contains a copy of Windows that can only be installed or to upgrade a past version of Windows if a version of Windows older than it is already installed onto the computer. Oh, and the Upgrade edition has a retail key. Also note that while upgrading a past Windows installation instead of doing a full clean install is rather convenient, it is never something I would recommend due to how buggy the end result can potentially be.

Beyond that, OEM and Upgrade editions of Windows are always MUCH cheaper than a Retail edition, but be careful about using OEM copies of Windows to install though. Sometimes, an OEM copy of Windows is shipped with a laptop or desktop computer that can get resold to you, and when you install it, it will also install a whole bunch of irrelevant drivers along with that copy as well as automatically put in the old computer’s OEM product key. This is all usually not that big of a deal per se, but it’s something that should probably be avoided all the same if you can help it to make absolutely sure you don’t run into any really weird driver conflicts with your own system.

You may be asking yourself, “Well, if some older versions of Windows are apparently so fan-fucking-tastic, why doesn’t everyone run them all the time instead of the newer ones?” And the answer to this is very simple. Hardware drivers. Drivers are software that tell the operating system how to communicate with a particular piece of hardware. So, if you get a new piece of hardware like, say, a graphics card that doesn’t have drivers written for your particular Windows version for whatever reason, you can’t use that hardware. As you can imagine, this can get very frustrating very quickly if you’re using these older Windows versions and you don’t know what you’re doing.

Thankfully though, past Windows versions usually cover an entire era of hardware drivers in their lifetime, so as long as you buy hardware within that era that the OS was active in, you’ll have zero issues, and these eras can be easily over 5 years long, if not longer. And then there’s also the fact that some Windows versions have driver backwards compatibility where you can use, say, a driver that was written for Windows 7 in Windows 8.1. We’ll go over these particular driver considerations though as we go into all these Windows versions in-depth. And finally, even though a particular piece of hardware may not have any official driver support for a specific Windows version, it MIGHT just run anyway. MAYBE. Albeit with absolutely no features and extras whatsoever. For example, my Asus Prime X570-Pro motherboard with a 3600 XT processor runs just fine with the chipset, audio, and networking on Windows 8.1. Some non-essential things, however, do NOT work at all such as the security co-processor which greatly helps speed up encryption operations. Generally, this potential forward compatibility should NOT be depended upon. Do NOT buy a whole system blindly assuming that it’s just going to magically work with your desired Windows version unless you want to make a very expensive gamble.

Besides that, one thing to note is, if you have Windows 7 and up, you can automatically download relevant drivers directly from Microsoft’s server. Though, keep in mind, those drivers may not always be the most optimal versions. If that doesn’t work for you for whatever reason, you can just go to the hardware manufacturer’s website and download the drivers you need from there. They’re usually listed under the Support tab or whatever. And finally, there are many third-party programs that will automatically download drivers for you from a vast database such as Snappy Driver Installer. I don’t really have any real experience with these though, so your mileage may vary with them.

Another thing to note is, if all you want right now is just to get off the ground and get your particular Windows OS installed, then as a rule of thumb, all you really need is five things. Support for the processor architecture, which we’ll discuss later, support for reading whatever installation media you’re using, support for whatever input device you’ll be using, support for sending at least a basic video signal to the monitor, and support for reading and writing to the storage media you’ll be using. As long as you have just those five things, you’ll be able to install any operating system and use it in at least a basic manner, and also, of course, you can use that as a solid jumping off point to install any other drivers at your leisure once you get the OS installed.

And finally, though this generally mostly applies to running Windows 98 SE, beware of motherboards made by obscure brands. Driver support may be slim to none due to the driver disc probably missing and the site being offline or unusable or even non-existent. Just always keep in mind when buying a motherboard, “Are their drivers for my OS with this board and are they available?”
 

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The processor architecture, also called the platform, refers to whether an operating system is made to run on 32-bit or 64-bit processor architectures. There’s actually a lot more processor architectures than this, but you don’t really need to concern yourself with them for the purposes of this video. Note that a 32-bit OS will run on a 64-bit processor just fine, but you cannot run a 64-bit OS on a 32-bit processor. Also, a 32-bit OS can only support up to 4 GBs of RAM. I have heard that this limit can be extended using Physical Address Extension, or PAE for short, but the processor, the motherboard, and the operating system all need to support it. A 64-bit OS does not have this 4 GB limitation. Also, 64-bit operating systems can run both 32 and 64 bit software except for 32 bit drivers. One large advantage of a 32 bit operating system though is that it does tend to run leaner than a 64-bit operating system.

Alright, it’s time for what you’ve all been waiting for. The individual Windows operating system guides themselves. And starting us out is Windows 98 Second Edition. This Windows version was launched in May of 1999 and it’s solely a 32-bit operating system. You can obtain a completely legal fully working copy of this OS complete with a working product key at WinWorld. A link for it will be down in the description. (https://winworldpc.com/download/417d71c2-ae18-c39a-11c3-a4e284a2c3a5) Even though it’s so old, it still merits a place in this video because it was the last edition to run all DOS, or Disk Operating System programs. Well… There was also a Windows Millennium Edition, or Windows Me for short, that could do so as well, but despite its fancy name, it was actually a bit shit and has a well-deserved reputation for being unstable. In fact, even more unstable than Windows 98. Which is saying something because Windows 98 was not all that stable either, but it could at least be worked with.

Now, there are some pretty neat DOS programs and games out there, but ultimately, you don’t run Windows 98 unless you want the capability to run legacy programs and games for nostalgia’s sake. That’s really about it. There’s also a program you can use now called DOSBox which emulates an old PC from this era that is designed to run these old DOS games and programs, and though it does a really good job, it may not be perfect and it’s still an emulator at the end of the day and not the full native experience which will always work exactly as it did back then and will probably be much easier to use too.

If you want to run Windows 98 SE today, just beware that Windows 98 SE can be rather annoying when trying to get it working with any kind of semi-modern hardware. It’s definitely the most temperamental and restrictive OS on this list by far. So, for the best hardware that can run on 98 SE, you’ll want a motherboard that has the Intel LGA 775 socket with the i865G chipset. Do NOT get the 865GV though. The AGP port on it is really weird and janky. Now, you’ll want an Nvidia GeForce 6800 GS, GT, or Ultra in AGP, a Sound Blaster Live! sound card, specifically SB100 or SB60, and DDR-400 sticks. You should also be able to get away with using an old AGP edition of the Quadro FX 3000 if you can’t find or don’t want the GeForce 6800. As far as storage goes, people have had varying levels of success with SATA, but it’s really not worth the trouble at all in my arrogant opinion. Just get a fast RPM IDE hard drive and make sure the Windows 98 partition is not over 120 GBs.

Keep in mind, Windows 98 will start misbehaving if you try to have it use more than 512 MBs of RAM. To remedy this, go into your System.ini and under [386enh], change the MaxPhysPage to 40000. This will allow you to install as much RAM as your motherboard can support and stop the errors. Keep in mind though, Windows 98 will still be limited to using only 1 gigabyte of RAM. And with all that said, you may want to only install 512 MBs of RAM anyway to smooth out any possible other issues involving the RAM.

Now, let’s talk about the processor. Honestly, since almost all Windows 9x era games and applications run incredibly light, you could easily just buy any of the thousands or so Pentium 4 CPUs that have clocks at 3 GHz or above and happily call it day, but if you want the MAXIMUM potential out of your system, and if you’re thinking of dual-booting XP, then read on.

Unfortunately, due to both supply constraints and varied motherboard CPU support limitations, getting the absolute fastest LGA 775 CPU which works with the 865G chipset is not going to be practical at all. Instead, I will list the fastest processors in the Pentium 4 line, the Pentium D line, and the Core 2 Duo line, and they are the Pentium 4 HT 550 for Socket 478, the Pentium 4 HT 670 for LGA 775, the Pentium D 950, and the Core 2 Duo E6700 respectively. Which one you get will depend on which motherboard you can secure. It doesn’t have to be an LGA 775 socket motherboard and can just be Socket 478 as long as it has the 865G chipset, but of course, the 478 socket will restrict you to processors with no more than one core.

And, by the way, we’re going Intel here for our processor because I heard from JayzTwoCents a while ago that old AMD-compatible motherboards used to be made pretty cheaply. Though, he might have been referring to a period of time before Ryzen, but after Athlon. Either way though, Intel motherboards are probably going to be easier to get anyway.

Another thing you need to keep in mind is that the latest driver for the AGP edition of the 6800 cards seems to be very troublesome. To remedy this, use the 77.30 beta or 77.72 driver. From what I can read online, these drivers seem to be the best bets, but don’t be afraid to experiment around with the other drivers if you’re not getting the results you need. And for some games, they may require software called a Glide wrapper.

As an optional bonus, you can install KernelEx, (https://sourceforge.net/projects/kernelex/files/KernelEx/4.5.2/KernelEx-4.5.2.exe/download) short for kernel extensions, and this will allow you some forward compatibility with Windows XP era programs and games. It’s not a magic bullet at all, but it can be nice to have and is worth a mention. Link in the description.
 

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Not to be confused with the worse-than-redundant Windows Millennium, this Windows version was launched in December of 1999 and is solely a 32-bit operating system. By the way, a quick note. A large majority of Windows XP drivers should work in Windows 2000 no problem. It’s not an absolute guarantee at all, but you should be able to get away with it. But yes, like Windows 98 SE, you can also obtain a fully working copy of this OS complete with a working product key at WinWorld, and a link for it will be down in the description too. (https://winworldpc.com/download/413ce280-9436-18c3-9a11-c3a4e284a2ef)

This was the first commercially available version of Windows to strip out DOS support entirely in favor of the much more stable and functional Windows NT 5.0 core that Windows 2000 and later were powered by, and is often remarked as the most clean and stable Windows operating system of all time. It was a breath of fresh air… But… There isn’t really a point to running it these days anymore even for compatibility.

Back when it came out, Windows 2000 showed everyone a large view of what was to come for Windows, and as long as you didn’t need DOS support, it was THE OS to install. But then Windows XP came out… And after that, Windows 2000 justifiably faded into the background. This is why I’m not really going to provide build instructions and how to best run Windows 2000, because it doesn’t really make any sense. Just run XP. You’ll get pretty much the same damn thing with even more features and compatibility to boot. Windows 2000 may be a little more stable than XP and run a little lighter, but as long as you run XP at least sort of intelligently, you will have zero issues with it. And as to the lighter hardware requirements, it’s really not enough to make a difference whatsoever unless you have a complete and absolute potato of a PC.

Windows 2000 was great, even amazing, when it first came out, but it has served its purpose and is no longer needed for anything anymore unless, for whatever reason, you absolutely and totally need an even more light and stripped down version of XP for a really old PC.
 

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Ah… Windows XP… Perhaps the most nostalgic Windows OS next to Windows 95 and 98. This Windows version launched in August of 2001 and is the first Windows OS to be available in both 32 and 64 bit versions. I would recommend NOT using the 64-bit version though. The experience can be unstable, drivers for it can be uncommon, and if you want native 16-bit program compatibility, or should I say, DOS compatibility through NTVDM, 64-bit will also not have that. I’ve also heard a rumor that 64-bit can have issues running 32-bit programs, but I haven’t confirmed that. If you want to run 64-bit Windows, I would highly recommend using pretty much anything other than XP. Now, due to this OS being the first to require online or over-the-phone activation, you cannot obtain this OS online for free legally and must buy a copy of the OS or, at very least, a product key for it.

A quick word on editions. Windows XP is dead simple and has just two sub-editions. Home and Professional. Yes, there’s also the Tablet and Media Center Edition, but they were never sold at retail and only came preinstalled on relevant laptops. Now, you CAN get an OEM disc copy of Tablet or Media Center Edition on Ebay if you really wish to, and just use that to install it, but in my opinion, you’re not missing anything by skipping those two editions anyway. Touch was definitely at its best beginning with the Windows 7 era and on, and XP’s Media Center is just… Neat. It’s key weakness is simply that it doesn’t offer anything whatsoever that the Windows 7 edition of Media Center doesn’t. But more on Windows 7 later. Just get the Professional 32-bit edition which has everything in Home edition and some extras.

There are also editions of Professional 32-bit that have Service Pack 1 and 2 right on the disc, but if, for whatever reason, you want the first edition of Windows XP due to some minor quirks of the service packs you don’t want or just for collecting purposes, then don’t be afraid to just get that. The first editions of Windows XP will merely have Version 2002 printed on the bottom right of the box and the install disc will not have any mention of any service packs on it. Do be aware though, I have heard that unless the disc or Windows XP install ISO you’re using has Service Pack 1 or greater on it, the installer will NOT load any USB 2.0 drivers meaning that if you aren’t installing using a USB 1.1 port for the install media, it will immediately hard crash. In that case, you’ll need to use an IDE optical disc drive or a SATA optical disc drive operating in IDE compatibility mode. You can set that in your BIOS.

Even today, there are still some absolute diehards who persist in continuing to run Windows XP, and if you look at the OS carefully, it’s not hard to see why. Windows XP contained everything that most people would ever need while still running ABSURDLY light. The OS was incredibly streamlined and feature-packed and never treated the user like an idiot. That along with its unnaturally long life ensured that the OS continued to hold on to its marketshare for years and years. Even today, you can still find some hardware and the occasional software that has Windows XP support for it, though it is becoming pretty rare.

Now, programs written for Windows XP generally do work pretty well in later Windows versions, if not flawlessly, but not all of them, and I have still heard of lingering issues with some of these older programs, hardware, and games running on later Windows versions, or that you need to employ some slightly annoying tweaks to get them going properly. Hence, this, along with the operating system’s incredibly light footprint and perfectly adequate feature set, even today, lock in its relevance at very least as far as backwards compatibility is concerned, if not more than that.

Before I continue though, I think this is a good time to now put in this big disclaimer. Though it is perfectly possible to get Windows XP online, unlike the struggles you’ll have with Windows 98 SE, you should know that Windows XP is NOT acceptable for any business and enterprise use whatsoever. It cannot be considered a secure operating system at all. And without any service packs, security is even worse. With that said though, if you’re just going to run it for personal use, and don’t use it for any kind of backup or storage purposes, then it really doesn’t matter and you can disregard all this. I’ll talk a little bit more about updating Windows and security later on as we get to the more recent Windows versions, but for now, just know that trying to make Windows XP secure is a fool’s errand, and your time would be better spent elsewhere.

For the best hardware that can run on Windows XP, you actually have two options here. If you want, you could just copypaste the Windows 98 SE build and dual-boot that with Windows XP as well for maximum compatibility on one system. But if you’re just concerned with pushing Windows XP to its limits, then you will want a motherboard that has the Intel LGA 1155 socket with the Z77 chipset, the i7-3770K, and DDR3-1600 RAM with as low a CAS number as you can get. By the way, the CAS number is linked to the timings of the RAM, hence why it’s as important as the clock speed of the RAM. Along with that, you’ll need an Nvidia GTX Titan X (Non-Pascal) card, a fast SATA or IDE hard drive, and naturally, a valid copy of Windows XP Professional 32-bit. And you may want to get a copy that has Service Pack 1 at least, even if you’re going to be completely air-gapping your Windows XP machine as Service Pack 1 has in-built USB 2.0 support as already stated above.

So, about the hardware listed here. We’re going with Intel again, and will be for the next three Windows builds as well due to the much better instructions per clock and the higher quality motherboards. Now onto SATA. Windows XP has much more viable support for SATA as compared to Windows 98. Keep in mind though, installing the OS on something other than an IDE drive is going to be more work as you’ll have to either slipstream drivers into the Windows XP install CD image through nLite and reburn it onto another disc or switch to IDE compatibility mode for the drive and install the SATA drivers later after you’re up and running. And don’t even think of using a SATA optical drive or SATA hard drive without either setting the drive to run in IDE mode in the BIOS or without slipstreaming the SATA drivers into the install disc. If you try to install XP using SATA in any way without the SATA drivers already on the disc and without IDE mode enabled, the Windows XP installer will hard crash or simply fail to find any hard drives to install to. And finally, be sure that you set in your motherboard to use Legacy booting or Legacy + UEFI. UEFI booting wasn’t supported until Windows 8 I believe.

Now, you might have been saying to yourself, “A GTX Titan X? Pffftt… Even with the non-Pascal version, there’s no Windows XP drivers for it.” But actually… Ladies and gentlemen, this is a LIE. Nvidia has basically decided Windows XP users are not worthy of the Titan X’s drivers. But not to worry. You can get around this restriction ridiculously easily. Just download the drivers for the Titan X like normal and go to the link I will paste into the description which will show you how to very easily bypass this crap and install the drivers like normal. (https://mattpilz.com/windows-xp-drivers-nvidia-geforce-gtx-970-980-980-ti-titan-x/) And yes, the drivers work just fine or I would not be recommending this card. Many people have already employed this workaround with no issues whatsoever. And finally, some of you might say the 3770K and the Titan X is complete nuclear overkill for Windows XP…



Anyway, let’s move on to a quick word on software for XP and then to the next Windows version. So after a little investigation, it turns out that through the efforts of the community, Steam does indeed work with Windows XP as of this writing. But I’m not going to lie, folks. It’s very janky. You really shouldn’t depend on Steam being there at this point and should instead use Good Old Games or simply physical disc copies of the games you want, but if you’re absolutely dead set on using Steam for whatever reason and have chosen the way of pain, then read on.

You’ll need five items for this. The Certificate Updater v1.6 (https://msfn.org/board/topic/175170-root-certificates-and-revoked-certificates-for-windows-xp/page/3/#comment-1110568), the latest version of Steam (https://store.steampowered.com/), the latest version of Steam to run on XP which is the November 2018 build (https://archive.org/download/steam_201901/steam.zip), the package files for the November 2014 Steam build (http://www.mediafire.com/file/klk15d0c917mvfb/Nov_2014_Steam_Client_Packages.zip/file), and the PackageInfoConverter Tool (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1tyAKh00acJgtjk-poBABud40VR7ft37E/view). The links will be down in the description as always. Since the procedure is very involved, I’m not going to go into the whole thing here. Instead, I will provide a link to the full install instructions. (https://archive.org/details/steam_201901) Specifically, scroll down to mesterak’s comment or do a Ctrl+F search for his username then follow the instructions.

Beyond that, there’s also a great resource I will also link that lists all the current drivers, updates, and programs that you may want that still work with XP. (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1WpPS_zOQZD3IcWmG5guWQxmt-n7aEeQ3yZ16Ra4x4Jw/edit) Now, just in my arrogant opinion, besides the drivers, I feel most of what’s in that list isn’t really going to be applicable to most people simply due to the fact that Windows XP is at its best today when used for legacy purposes and nostalgia, not as a daily driver. Nevertheless, I’m not your momma. Do whatever works best for you personally
 

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Windows Vista. One of the most, uh… “Loved” Windows operating systems. This Windows version was launched in November of 2006 and supports both 32 and 64 bit. Unlike XP, the 64 bit version is actually quite usable. And yes, you will need to obtain a valid product key for this just like XP and all later Windows versions discussed here. Also, a fun note. Vista is the last Windows to actually be able to be installed using just CD-ROMs. Considering that they made IDE DVD drives though, that ability isn’t really useful at all even on super old computers.

As far as sub-editions go, Vista had the most of any Windows version alongside Windows 7. To be exact, it had six. Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium (Home Premium is what most OEM PCs shipped with at the time, by the way), Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate. As you move up the product stack, you get progressively more features, with Ultimate having all the features unlocked and available plus the “Ultimate Extras” which is a separate feature pack you could download that, of course, required you to have a valid copy of Vista Ultimate. Note though that the Ultimate Extras was discontinued right before Windows 7’s launch and now cannot be downloaded from Microsoft any longer and you’ll need to get them elsewhere. A download link for them will be in the description. (https://mega.nz/folder/MgBRSKKK#rDcZY60CQ7uWMRUcagT4EQ)

Ok then… There’s a LOT to unpack here, both good and bad, but mostly good though, as, directly contrasting Windows XP’s elegant simplicity, Vista added a LOT, and I mean a lot, ladies and gents. It was, like Windows 2000, a huge and much needed step for Windows. Nevertheless, it was a pretty shaky step. Windows Vista launched with a lot of problems, with the biggest by far being the rather high system requirements at the time, the very rocky state of drivers available for Vista during launch, and the annoyingly persistent User Account Control, or UAC prompts. All of these things were fixed in the future, but the damage to its reputation was done, and by the time it was all fixed, Windows 7 was just around the corner.

Now, as far as running Windows Vista over Windows 7, like running Windows 2000 over Windows XP… There isn’t a lot of point to it. Windows 7 runs faster and has much more hardware and software support while having all the features of Vista that most people are going to care about. With that said, unlike Windows 2000, Vista still does have some neat little extras over 7. Hardly anything earth-shattering, but they are there. For one, Vista’s Windows Explorer strangely seems to have more features than Windows 7. Windows 7 does have Libraries and Advanced Query Syntax over Vista, but that seems to be about it. Also, Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Movie Maker, Windows Mail, and Windows Calendar all got completely removed. The Vista wallpapers and three of Vista’s screensavers were removed, and finally, the Vista Ultimate Extras were removed. Of course, that’s not to say that Windows 7 doesn’t have any of its own cool extras, but we’ll get to those later.

All in all, unless you were already running and were super comfortable with Vista on an existing system, Windows 7 clearly was and is the way to go. On top of that, like Windows XP, Windows Vista is NOT suitable for business and enterprise use. Also, another thing to keep in mind, Windows Vista cannot connect to Microsoft servers anymore due to Microsoft removing SHA-1-based Windows Update endpoints, so you’ll have to download the updates from another source if you want them. A link to such will be in the description. (Microsoft Update Catalog or https://mega.nz/folder/MgBRSKKK#rDcZY60CQ7uWMRUcagT4EQ)

Ok, let’s say for whatever reason, you really want to make that top of the line Windows Vista system and you don’t care for that newfangled Windows 7 operating system. Well, in that case, I got good news and bad news. The bad news is, for some weird reason, hardware support for Windows Vista ended at pretty much the exact same time that hardware support for Windows XP did. The good news is, this means you can just use the exact same top-of-the-line Windows XP build as the top-of-the-line Windows Vista build, saving you a lot of time and money. The only difference is simply that you don’t need to “hack” the Titan X driver installer to work since Nvidia offers a working installer for them for Vista.

And also, remember, Windows Vista’s installer doesn’t have any USB 3.0 drivers. It will also fail to read any USB 2.0 ports that are plugged into a USB 3.0 header. You can get around this though somewhat by just using the PS/2 port on your motherboard for your keyboard or mouse. Assuming you have such a port, but if you don’t, you can just purchase a PCIe card which adds PS/2 ports. Alternatively, you can, of course, just slipstream the drivers into your Vista install ISO. And also, Rufus won’t write the Vista install ISO to a USB if Rufus is not v2.18 or lower. And ALSO, be sure that you set in your motherboard to use Legacy booting or Legacy + UEFI just like Windows XP.

Now, let’s move on to software. Thankfully enough, Vista will still work with the latest version of Steam, but you MUST use the kernel extender written for Vista by the author, “win32”. (http://ximonite.com/win32/download.html) Link for that in the description.

Oh, and one other thing. Service Pack 1 and 2 both have some major additions and fixes that you’ll probably want, plus, Windows Vista ships with DirectX 10, but it can run DirectX 11 with the Platform Update for Windows Vista, and this was later improved with performance optimizations and bug fixes with the Platform Update Supplement, so make sure you install all four of these major updates to get the most performance and compatibility out of the OS.
 

Arnox

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Affectionately called, “Windows XP 2.0,” by yours truly, Windows 7 became another OS that held on for FAR longer than Microsoft would have liked. This Windows version launched in July of 2009 and supports both 32 bit and 64 bit. Windows 7, like Vista, launched with the same six sub-editions. And also like Vista, there are only 3 here that you need to pay attention to. Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate. Home Premium is only relevant here because it was what was shipped with many OEM PCs, although Professional did as well. Professional is also the edition that most users bought and used. Ultimate was for the Windows pimps.

So, after the, uh… Unprecedented launch of Windows Vista, Microsoft persevered and did several major quality and feature passes on Vista, fixing it up and adding to it for a new separate release. It was clear that Windows Vista was a pretty damn good OS underneath the hood, but it was in dire need of some attention. Attention that Microsoft did indeed provide. And about two and a half years after Vista’s debut, Windows 7 launched and then finally showed everyone what Windows Vista SHOULD have been. Once 7 released, XP users worldwide breathed a sigh of relief and quickly upgraded their machines to the new OS. It was faster, shinier, more compatible, more secure, easier to work with, and had better tools for both novices and IT professionals alike. It wasn’t long before 7 became the new gold standard for Windows. And… Little did we know it at the time, but Windows 7 would be the final peak of Windows... But more on that later. Don’t you worry, we are going to get to that. Oh yes, we are going to get to THAT…

Anyway though. We are now finally in what I would call the, “Currently Viable Workhorse Operating Systems” group. At least as of this writing. Sadly though, Windows 7 is kind of on the edge of it, being released over a decade ago, but it IS still kicking to this day. Alongside that, Windows 7 is also the first OS on this list that you MAY be justified in running still for businesses and enterprises since it’s still receiving security updates. But that’s a BIG maybe. I personally wouldn’t recommend it for anything that is even sort of mission critical, even if you would probably be able to get away with it. When it comes to business and enterprise security, do not take any unnecessary risks.

Beyond that, I would say full steam ahead still for regular use as long as you’re willing to accept that your system is not going to be the most up-to-date system, hardware wise. But you will still absolutely be able to get work done with it, so don’t worry about that. And this leads nicely into the top-of-the-line build you can run Windows 7 on. Now, since Windows 7 is still part of the Currently Viable Workhorse Operating Systems group, this is where top-of-the-line hardware for the OS is gonna start getting rather spendy since the maximum hardware it can support is still pretty relevant today in terms of power. So, I will be providing the Bill Gates’ Budget build which will completely ignore costs, and the Average Consumer’s Budget build which will still give the same performance and less hardware features for MUCH cheaper.

Starting us off with the Bill Gates’ Budget build, you will want an LGA 1151 motherboard with the C236 chipset and a Xeon E3-1285 v6. Be prepared to spend over $500 for the processor alone because, for some reason, this processor has become really rare. Take note of the v6 there in the name by the way. It’s pretty important to keep that in the search field when doing a search for this processor as there are multiple versions of this model of Xeon processor with radically different performances and compatibilities between each. So, after that, you’ll need DDR4-2400 RAM sticks, a Quadro P6000 (another $1,650 for that by the way) or a Quadro GV100 if you really need that FP64 performance. If you don’t know what that is then you don’t need it. (And let’s not even TALK about how expensive that card is, even today.) And finally, for the storage, an NVMe drive, assuming your motherboard supports it. If it doesn’t though, just get a server-grade SSD drive.

And then for the Average Consumer’s Budget build, it’s the same as the Bill Gates’ budget build but take out the chipset, the processor, and the graphics card, and then replace them with an LGA 1151 motherboard with the Z270 chipset, an i7-7700K processor, and an Nvidia Titan Xp. You’ll save over $1,500 with this build, easy, and still get mostly if not exactly the same performance. You just won’t get the professional workstation and server-grade features. And for both builds, get a copy of Windows 7 Ultimate. Professional is perfectly fine though if you want to save money.

Now, I should talk about the graphics situation for Windows 7 here just a little. So technically, you can run the latest available cards as of this writing on Windows 7… As long as the OS is 64 bit, not 32 bit. So, if you’re fine with that, then get whatever graphics card you want, generally speaking. If you’re not fine with that though for whatever reason, then the graphics cards listed above will be the best you can get.

Speaking of drivers, I should say that Windows 7 has the same issue that Vista does in that the OS doesn’t have any native USB 3.0 drivers. But again though, you can use the exact same workarounds as in Vista to get around that, namely a PS/2-connected mouse or keyboard, a PCIe card that offers PS/2 input, or just slipstreaming the USB 3.0 drivers into the install ISO. And finally, be sure that you set in your motherboard to use Legacy booting or Legacy + UEFI as while Windows 7 does seem to have support for UEFI, it’s only partial.

Ok, let’s talk software. As far as official updates goes… Windows 7 is pleasantly boring here in this regard. The Platform Update for it does add some enhancements to DirectX 11, but beyond that, you’ll probably struggle hard to notice any difference between Windows 7 fully patched and Windows 7 v1.0. Now, after Windows 10’s release, Microsoft “””helpfully””” decided that on March of 2017, Windows 7 users who were running the OS on Intel Kaby Lake, AMD Bristol Ridge, AMD Ryzen, or any processors beyond such would be blocked entirely from Microsoft Update Servers, probably in a bid to get more users to install Windows 10. Thankfully though, this can easily be bypassed using the open-source wufuc patch. A link to such will be in the description. (https://www.majorgeeks.com/files/details/wufuc.html)

As far as continuing security updates for consumer editions of Windows 7 past January of 2020, you will need to follow the instructions listed in the relevant link given in the description below. (https://www.ghacks.net/2020/02/13/it-appears-that-the-windows-7-esu-bypass-is-indeed-working/) It’s a bit of a pain, but if you’re running Windows 7 for business or enterprise use, then suck it up. You need these patches and there will be no backtalk out of you.

Alright, enough about Windows updates. Let’s talk about Steam. Specifically, this is the earliest Windows version that Valve still officially supports. Yay! No hacky workarounds for Steam needed, though that may change in the future, so be prepared for that. Another thing that I’d like to bring up has to do with how Windows 7 is installed and configured. Specifically, if you’re willing to run the 32 bit version of it with all the graphical enhancements turned off, Windows 7 will actually run incredibly light. Perhaps it’s not quite to Windows XP’s level, but it comes close and it will probably surprise you.
 

Arnox

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And now, we move on to the touch-based and third-hated Windows OS. Windows 8 sadly started the downhill trend of modern Windows, BUT this Windows version is still very salvageable. More on that later though. Now, Windows 8 was released in August of 2012, and Windows 8.1 was released in August of 2013. Both fully support 32 and 64 bit. Unlike Windows 7 and Vista, Windows 8 and 8.1 took a leaf out of Windows XP’s book and cut down the number of editions to just two. Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. There is also Windows 8 Enterprise, but Microsoft decided during this time that us unwashed non-business plebs don’t deserve the highest edition of Windows 8 and restricted access of it to volume licensing customers only. A practice they would continue on into Windows 10 and 11 both. As to Windows 8.1, it had the exact same editions as Windows 8, so nothing really to talk about there.

OK, it’s time to talk about the differences between Windows 8 and 8.1 and how this all started. So, after the incredible success of Windows 7, Microsoft naturally set their sights on the next Windows version, and for this, they looked to the future. But in their looking, someone decided to see just a partial view of it apparently, and then decided that the future of all computers was nothing but touch screens! Yes, touch screens everywhere. Look out, kids. This isn’t your dad’s boring old sensible desktop OS anymore! Woooo! Look at the new full screen Start menu! Look at our Charms bar! Look at our MSPaint style user interface! Look at how we attempted to replace the Control Panel with a weird Settings app but stopped very early because we quickly realized just how much of a monumental task that would be!

Windows 8 also launched alongside the Windows Store, but this failed hard at launch due to the fact that apps written for the Windows Store could not be sideloaded by the retail plebs, and only Windows 8 Enterprise customers could do so. Apps gotten through the store were heavily restricted whether the user liked it or not. And on top of that, the store was buggy. As to the other new apps developed and shipped in Windows 8, they were all clunky and basic. Now basic doesn’t necessarily equal bad, but if they are going to be like that, then they need to load almost immediately if not instantly, perform well, and be easy to use. These new apps were not.

As you can imagine, none of this went over well with the long since established desktop Windows userbase. Now, in fairness, Windows 8 technically DID succeed in what it set out to do, and that was to be a good OS for touch screen devices. But that was the problem as desktop users were left out in the cold with the new changes. And maybe this all would have just blown over rather quickly if Windows 8 gave an option to go back to the Windows 7 look and way of doing things, but alas, it did not. You got what you got in Windows 8 and you could take it or go back to Windows 7. Those were your choices. So, naturally, it turned out Windows 7 didn’t have anything to fear from Windows 8.

After almost exactly a year after Windows 8’s momentous launch, Windows 8.1 was released as a free major update and rerelease to act as damage control. Microsoft was hoping they could pull off another Windows-7-esque recovery, but... It was not to be this time. While Windows 8.1 did fix some of the pain points of Windows 8 like a somewhat revamped Start screen and the readding of a Start button, it was too little too late, and Microsoft quickly just decided to move on to developing Windows 10. After that, Windows 8 and 8.1’s reputation, like Vista, became firmly set, and it was soon forgotten after Windows 10 released.

With all of that history out of the way though, it’s actually rather hard to make a final judgment call on Windows 8.1 because, with just one small third-party open source program that, again, we’ll get into later, you can salvage the ENTIRE OS and, in fact, turn it into an enhanced if more boring looking version of Windows 7, although, even the visuals can be fixed if you’re willing to go a little further. On top of that, Windows 8.1 also comes with a TON of improvements under the hood over Windows 7 along with the regular updated hardware compatibility as well. Some of the big highlights here are improved stability, improved overall speed, much better task manager, native USB 3 and NVMe support, File History, improved lock screen functionality, and more multi-monitor features.

Alright, then. Decision time. Should you run Windows 8.1 over Windows 7? Well... If, for some weird reason, you don’t plan to make any alterations to the OS whatsoever and also aren’t installing it on a touch-based device, then maybe not. Otherwise yes. Absolutely. And if you are, then let us proceed to the maximum supported hardware.

Now, like Windows Vista and XP, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 share the exact same maximum supported hardware. With one annoying quirk. The graphics card. Unfortunately, if you want the best of the best, you’re going to have to be more specific about what that means because Nvidia’s Windows 8.1 support is ALL OVER THE PLACE here. If you want the best FP64 card, you need the Quadro GV100 again. If you want the best workstation card and don’t care about 32-bit support, you need the Quadro RTX 8000. If you want the best high-end non-Quadro card and don’t care about 32-bit support, you need the 2080 Ti. If you DO care about 32-bit support though then you’re stuck with the Quadro P6000. Or the Titan Xp if you don’t want a Quadro. Yeah, not confusing at ALL. I think what annoys me here the most by far though is that it’s NEEDLESSLY annoying and arbitrary.

One more note though on graphics drivers for the 2080 Ti. Nvidia says on their site they’re not available for Windows 8 and 8.1 64-bit but yet again, Nvidia is LYING. The Windows 7 64-bit drivers install and work on Windows 8 and 8.1 just fine, and without any installer modification as well. Nvidia… Just… Can we… Why???

ANYWAY… Let’s talk software now. Like Windows 7, Microsoft “””Helpfully””” blocked the same processors from accessing Windows Update servers on Windows 8.1. Again though, wufuc will restore that functionality, so just download and use that as before. And thankfully, Windows 8.1, as of this writing, is still fully supported with security updates, so there’s no need for any annoying workarounds. Putting aside security updates then, are there any significant updates to Windows 8 then that regular users would care about? Well, besides the obvious 8.1 update… Not really. Also, don’t be afraid to update your copy of Windows 8 to 8.1. A few VERY small things were removed, but otherwise, nothing to be worried about whatsoever. 8.1 is objectively far better than Windows 8. Windows 8 does have that cool box art though, I’ll give it that. If you don’t mind me going on a bit of a dumb tangent about box art for a bit, Windows 8 had a black outer box with a very colorful and artistic inner box, and the designs of the inner box varied with every individual copy. With Windows 8.1 though, I guess they decided that was too cool and switched to an incredibly plain and boring solid blue outer box with a white inner box instead. (Or a purple outer box if you got the core edition.) Guess it doesn’t matter anyway though since both Vista and 7 had better boxes.

Now, let’s go into the modifications you’ll want to make before you start daily-driving Windows 8.1. Now, most of this is actually pretty optional, but there is one program that you’ll definitely want above all else, assuming you’re running a desktop or standard laptop, and that is Open Shell. The link for this program will be in the description. (https://github.com/Open-Shell/Open-Shell-Menu/releases/tag/v4.4.160) This program can disable the annoying corners, disable the charms bar, add transparency to the task bar, but most importantly, can also bring back the classic start menu. You can choose from any of the old menus, from Windows 7 to Windows XP. Just look through the program settings and set it however you like.

After that, the last thing to do, if you so desire, is to fully replace Metro, what Windows 8’s completely flat look is named, with Aero from Windows Vista and 7. We’re gonna do this with a huge pack called the Windows 8 to 7 Restoration Pack. The link, as always, will be in the description. (https://intosanctuary.com/index.php?resources/windows-8-to-7-restoration-pack.9/) Keep in mind though, the key program that the pack uses to get back Windows Aero is called Aero Glass, and it’s a paid program. If you use it for free, it watermarks your desktop until you uninstall it. I tried looking for a free solution, but they all seemed really clunky and/or buggy, so it’s up to you as to whether you want to pay for it. I will say though, the program seems perfectly reputable and it’s only $3. Also, if you do find a better solution, let me know and I will update both this video and the pack. Beyond that though, just follow the instructions on the pack web page or the instructions bundled in the pack. They are the exact same.
 

Arnox

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Ah yes… We come to it now. The dreaded Windows 10.

Now, as I’ve said earlier in this video, Windows 8 was the start of the decline, yes, but Windows 10 was the ramp up, and Windows 11 is the culmination of Microsoft’s modern terrible decisions. Now, Windows 10 launched in July of 2015 and was the last Windows version to have both 32-bit and 64-bit support. Like Windows 8 and 8.1, 10 launched with two baseline editions available to the general public. Windows 10 core and Windows 10 Professional. There were a fair few other editions released as well though during Windows 10’s lifecyle.

The ones of interest here are Education, Pro for Workstations, and Enterprise. Enterprise is, once again, the best version, being a more lean and debloated Windows 10 with all the features available, but, also once again, isn’t available to buy for us mere peasants. Only volume licensing customers can buy it. Education is like Enterprise in a lot of ways except stripped of a few features. Specifically, Education supports only 2 CPUs instead of 4, only 2 terabytes of RAM instead of 6, has no Resilient File System support, no NVDIMM support, no remote direct memory access, and no long-term servicing channel (or LTSC) available. And Pro for Workstations is just like Pro, but has support for 4 CPUs and 6 terabytes of RAM, Resilient File System support, NVDIMM support, and remote direct memory access.

Besides Enterprise, Pro for Workstations has some features Education doesn’t, and vice versa. Honestly though, the only feature that most people would even care about at all that Pro for Workstations has is NVDIMM support. Everything else is not really relevant for most people. As to the availability of Pro for Workstations, you can buy it retail directly from Microsoft. And for Education, you can also obtain it without a volume licensing agreement too. Sort of… If you had a valid college email from 2015 up to now as of this writing, you could get a retail copy of it. If not… I dunno, man. I guess you’re screwed. But nevertheless, let us thank Microsoft for their benevolence and condescension by giving us peasants a chance to touch even a variant of their oh-so-holy Enterprise edition… Don’t worry. We’re gonna talk about how to get it anyway very shortly here.

Oh! One more thing. There is an edition of Windows 10 Pro also called Windows 10 Pro Education. This is NOT the same as Windows 10 Education and is merely a slightly different variant of Pro, so watch out for that.

Alright, let’s move on to giving Microsoft the finger by talking about how to obtain and install a copy of Enterprise anyway. But before I talk any further about this, I want to put up a massive disclaimer here and say that this video does NOT condone stealing. If Microsoft were to just SELL us the damn Enterprise edition directly, I would just point others to that option and leave it at that. But they won’t, and they probably never will at this point with Windows 11 out. So, for moral due diligence, make sure you have legally bought a full retail copy of Windows 10 Professional at least before going any further here. Ok, we all got that? Good! Now, let us proceed.

There are a few ways we can do this and the choice is yours. The easy part is getting the Enterprise ISO or installation media. There are tons of very quick guides to get that just a google search away. The real tricky part though is going to be activating it. One of the best bets available to you is to install Enterprise using a public KMS key and activate it using someone else’s KMS host server. This, of course, requires that you have a valid link to such a server. It also requires that the installation checks in to the KMS host within at very least 180 days. With that aside, the installation will check in every 7 days to keep the activation time as current as possible, so if the connection to the server for whatever reason is no longer there, you will then have 180 days to reconnect before your activation status becomes invalid. You will use the KMS server links listed at kms.msguides.com. As of this writing, the latest one is “s9.us.to”.

The advantage of doing it this way is definitely security and a little convenience. You don’t have to install anything whatsoever and you can do it immediately, right out of the box. But even though this is definitely the way I would recommend to activate Enterprise personally, the problem is that it depends on that outside KMS server always being there to connect to, and if for any reason you can’t connect to it, you can say goodbye to your activated status after 180 days unless you find another KMS host server. Although it’s certainly very manageable, that still kinda sucks in my opinion.

Now, yes, there is a second option, but due to the risk associated with it, it has been redacted from the video. You can find the full uncensored explanation for the second option on the Sanctuary site in the transcript for this video.

TRANSCRIPT ONLY{The second way is to install a third-party activator like Microsoft Toolkit Activator also called the EZ-Activator. No, this is not an official tool by Microsoft. The latest version is 2.6.7 as of this writing, and it will, basically, alter your Windows system files so that it will always be activated no matter what. No more having to depend on somebody else’s KMS server ever again and you can delete the program immediately after it’s finished, so this is the most reliable method by far to activate Enterprise. But beware! Obviously, this does require that you go online, download the program, extract it, and finally, run it, trusting that the program author didn’t insert some kind of very stealthy malware into the program.

Now, as far as I can research, the program SEEMS safe, but I want to stress here that I CANNOT guarantee that at all and I am NOT responsible in any way for any damages and/or disruption that results from you using this program. This program is merely listed for reference and completeness’ sake. Now, BitDefender and Kapersky both just say it’s a hack tool and leave it at that, but the question is, does it do anything besides what is advertised on its metaphorical box? At the end of the day, it’s up to you, and it SEEMS to be alright, but if security is a significant concern for you, then I would not even consider this to be an option at all and I DON’T want to hear how your system got bricked at any time later on. This option is completely unsupported and not recommended by me. You have been warned.}TRANSCRIPT ONLY

OK then! With the Windows 10 editions all out of the way, we are going to get into the real nitty gritty of why this OS has been and is so bad in comparison to the other past Windows versions. Or you can just look at the timestamps and skip right past it all, but I would ask you to please humor me about this because I feel these are pretty important points to bring up. And buckle in, lads. It’s gonna get a little bumpy.

Alright, now the year is 2015. Windows 8 and 8.1 left a sour taste in everyone’s mouths, but lo! Windows 10 is coming, and it’s the promised chosen one! Look, the start menu’s back! No more charms! No more annoying active corners! And everyone rejoiced, waiting with bated breath for Windows 10 to save us from Windows 8. And then… Launch! But right off the bat, we’re already running into our first problem. See, when Windows 10 launched, Microsoft also shipped out an update for Windows 7 and 8.1 that had an app installed with it called GWX, short for Get Windows 10. (https://www.computerworld.com/article/3030564/microsoft-uses-the-force-you-will-upgrade-to-windows-10.html) And what this update was is basically a promotion from Microsoft that allowed users of Windows 7 and 8.1 to upgrade to Windows 10 entirely for free. Sounds great! What could be the problem here?

Well, uh… You VERY often got the upgrade. Whether you liked it or not. Although Windows 7 listed the update as optional, if you had updates set to automatic, as most people did, then it would “””helpfully””” check the box for you to install the update which would then install Windows 10 to the PC in a matter of days unless it was found and intercepted in time. Sometimes, this was happening on even PCs that were joined to a domain even though Microsoft had said that these PCs would not be upgraded. But ladies and gentlemen, this was just the tip of Microsoft’s assholery iceberg. We got a whole lot more ground to cover.

Now it’s time to get into the OS itself and talk about, most likely, the biggest problem with Windows 10. (And Windows 11 too by extension, but we’ll get there soon enough.) My friends, I am talking about the entire Windows update system. In the past, Windows gave you complete control of your updates. How often you wanted them, which ones you wanted, and even to just turn them all off permanently. Further, Microsoft used to have an INCREDIBLY extensive test division, but as talked about by a former Microsoft veteran employee nicknamed Barnacules Nerdgasm (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9kn8_oztsA) (link in the description), that is no longer the case! So updates were and are not bug-tested properly before releasing to stable machines! Don’t believe me? How about some more links. There was an update once that caused Windows 10 servers to bootloop and also completely broke virtual machine functionality. (https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/microsoft/new-windows-server-updates-cause-dc-boot-loops-break-hyper-v/) There was also another separate update that straight up deleted user files. (https://www.howtogeek.com/fyi/microsoft-explains-why-windows-10s-october-2018-update-was-deleting-peoples-files/)

And wait, it gets worse. When Windows 10 shipped, people quickly found out that control over updates was restricted to an absurd amount, with a particular update forced on users at one point even though they had updates actively disabled using a workaround. (https://www.theredmondcloud.com/microsoft-will-begin-forced-upgrades-of-windows-10-for-some-users-this-month/) To be specific, you could no longer select which updates you wanted to install, and you could only postpone updates for a certain amount of time. Windows 10 Home users had even less control over updates. And while they later relented a little bit for Home users, they also “””helpfully fixed””” workarounds in later Windows 10 builds that allowed users to stop updates fully, leading to a small and stupid arms race between the authors of third-party Windows 10 enhancement tools and Microsoft.

Oh, think we’re done there with the updates? Guess again. Just shortly after Windows 10’s release, an actually legitimately cool program called Sketchpad was bundled into Windows 10. It was a simple but effective tool for stylus and touchscreen enabled devices that allowed one to quickly pull up a whiteboard of sorts and draw on it using various tools. You could import and export images freely, change the background, and it was just a nice little program to have. One of the few cool exclusive things about Windows 10.

Or should I say… It WAS. You see, in yet another wonderful Windows 10 update, very specifically in build 18362.267, just a little bit after version 1903’s full release, Sketchpad was forcibly removed and replaced with the much more restrictive Whiteboard app which forced you to sign in online and would nag you to be online to use it and wasn’t even half as good as Sketchpad anyway. And besides just flat out removing the update, there was no way to get Sketchpad back. So, with all of this said and done, we have an update system that tries its damnedest to force potentially unstable updates on users that can and have just straight up removed functionality and programs that used to exist before. Even further, this means anyone who installs Windows 10 and doesn’t put some kind of a leash on Windows Update doesn’t technically own their computer anymore.

Ok, we’re finally off the updates now, but there’s STILL a long list of problems with 10 we haven’t touched on. A big one is privacy. When you install Windows 10, you’re immediately faced with a long list of tracking options with all of them switched to on by default. And beyond that, even if after installation you also go through all the MANY tracking settings and disable them all, you STILL can’t entirely break free of Windows phoning home to Microsoft with telemetry data.

After that, we have games like Solitaire (yes, Solitaire) which used to be a free game bundled with Windows since forever ago taken out in Windows 10 and “””improved””” into a freemium game that seems to be trying its hardest to mimic Candy Crush’s business model. We also got ads all over the Start menu on first install and internet ads in search. Then we have the quite questionable performance of Windows 10 on older systems, especially systems which use spinning disk hard drives. And then we have apps that can’t be uninstalled normally using the GUI. And then the removal of HomeGroup which wasn’t replaced with anything else. And then as a plastic cherry on top of this shit cake, Microsoft doubling down on their shitty Metro UI taken from Windows 8.

In almost every respect, Microsoft has completely failed to restore Windows to its former glory after the disastrous launch of Windows 8. Nevertheless, this crap has now slowly become normalized as more and more people who have never seen a good operating system in their life begin using Windows 10. It has become the status quo. And I’m sure Microsoft just LOVES this. Triple the data collection. Triple the profits. Half of the work. Of course, this does have the unintended side effect of letting Linux start to catch up with Windows in both its feature set and stability, but that’s another topic for another time. And for the rest of us who do remember and care about what Windows used to be, Windows 10 and beyond have become almost unacceptable.

Alright… Let’s start wrapping this up then because I’ve just gone on for two and a half pages about this and I’m sure the horse I’m beating here has long since stopped breathing. The TL;DR is, don’t use Windows 10 if you have a choice. And don’t use Windows 11 either, but we’ll get to that soon enough. But if you do have to use Windows 10, then read on.

So… You’re deadset on using Windows 10 for whatever reason, but before you immediately run off to download the latest version of Windows 10 and slap it on to your computer, let me clarify a few things first. For one, what are you going to be using this computer for? If it’s for business purposes at all, I’d recommend the latest version of Windows 10 Enterprise, assuming you have a choice, that is. But if it’s for personal use, then you have some options here. You can install Professional instead of Enterprise and probably be just as happy with it since almost all the Enterprise features aren’t really going to be that useful to most people at all.

There is still a question of which version to install though. By the way, I should mention that there’s a site that allows you to download many editions and versions of Windows 10. (https://tb.rg-adguard.net/public.php) I’ll of course put that link in the description. Alternatively, there’s also a tool called the HeiDoc Windows ISO Downloader. (https://www.heidoc.net/joomla/technology-science/microsoft/67-microsoft-windows-and-office-iso-download-tool) which I find to be more reliable and have more options. Link will be in the description as well. Anyway, there’s been, as of this writing, 13 separate versions of Windows 10 released. I would personally recommend version 1607. I recommend this because this is the earliest you can get to Windows 10’s initial release back when it was still rather configurable through easy workarounds including easy native workarounds for the update system, Sketchpad wasn’t removed yet, and the OS wasn’t as unnecessarily bloated. You can also install and use AeroGlass on this version of Windows (https://www.glass8.eu/) (link in the description) since it works from version 1607 all the way up to version 1909. This program is also in the Windows 8 to 7 Restoration Pack discussed in the Windows 8 section of this video.

Alternatively, if running a much older and much more manageable Windows 10 version is not extensive enough for you, you can install Windows 10 Ameliorated or Windows 10 AME for short. (https://ameliorated.info/) Link in the description. This is a transparently made secure community edition of Windows 10 that does its best to strip out all the annoying and privacy invading anti-features of Windows 10. It is INCREDIBLY thorough. In fact, some would even say too much so. For one, it completely nukes Windows Update and Windows Store. For better and for worse, you’re not connecting to Microsoft servers ever again except through a browser pretty much. Other applications that connect to Microsoft servers at all such as Cortana, Windows Media Player, and Microsoft Edge have also been obliterated off the OS. Also keep in mind, Windows 10 AME does effectively turn Windows 10 into a pure fixed-release OS and even full manual installation of updates is not recommended for several reasons which are viewable on their FAQ page. DirectX 12 should be fully working, but even if it doesn’t, you should be able to use Vulkan with no issues and DX12 really shouldn’t be supported anyway. Ultimately, Windows 10 AME may not be for everyone, but for those like me who are fully self-sufficient and don’t really need any connection to Microsoft servers whatsoever, it remains a very reliable, secure, and robust option.

And that should honestly be it for Windows 10. Since Windows 10 is still very much a current and fully supported Windows version at least as of this writing, any of the latest hardware and software you throw at it should work just fine, so there isn’t a need at all right now to detail the most powerful system you can run with Windows 10. It would just get outdated very very quickly.
 

Arnox

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And finally, our last Windows version, and sadly, also probably the most dreaded. Windows 11 was released in June of 2021 and only supports the 64-bit and ARM architectures. It comes in… Maybe three editions? I don’t know for sure because for some reason, Microsoft made it annoyingly unclear and Wikipedia hasn’t caught up yet as of this writing. There does seem to be Windows 11 Enterprise, but it also looks like a disguised version of Microsoft’s online 365 subscription service. Instead then, I think I’ll just list the for-sure editions of 11 I found and leave it at that. They are Home, Pro, and Pro for Workstations. According to Microsoft, Pro for Workstations has support for Resilient File System, or ReFS, support for persistent memory, and support for SMB direct. So there you go, I guess.

Ok, so it’s time for our last history lesson. Just before Windows 11’s release, they announced the OS of course, but this actually sent a huge wave throughout the Windows community as it was assumed, perhaps somewhat incorrectly, that Windows 10 would be the last Windows release, and they would just update that ad infinitum. Nope, we got another Windows OS now. A new kid on the block. At first there was lots of hype for it, but modern Microsoft being modern Microsoft, they almost right after destroyed a ton of the hype for the OS by announcing an incredibly stupid requirement.

Specifically, your motherboard needed to support TPM 2.0 or higher, or YOU’RE NOT GETTING IN. Linked directly to this, a whole bunch of older but still solid processors and their respective motherboards were made completely invalid for Windows 11 overnight. Basically, any processor released before 2017 was listed as not compatible. Why all this though? Purely because Microsoft said so. Well, they said so in the name of security, but Microsoft decided to overlook the fact that they aren’t everyone’s momma and thought they needed to save users from themselves. So they did so with a restriction that would have made Tim Cook proud. They also… “””helpfully””” removed the option to install Windows 11 Home with a local account. You had to have a Microsoft account now, and if you didn’t… YOU’RE NOT GETTING IN.

So as you can see, Microsoft was starting things off quite swimmingly here by taking even more control of their consumer’s own PCs.

Alright, so we get to the release, and Windows 11 has a few little nice things going for it. Most apparently, there’s a new UI design that doesn’t entirely look like ass, but it’s also regressive as well in a few ways too. Most notably, you now can’t tell at a glance if a folder has items in it or not. And if we’re really going to get down to brass tacks, Windows Aero still looks a lot better than this.

But I’m already getting ahead of myself, so let’s get back to the positives here. Beyond the UI looks, we have widgets again, new window options, a dynamic refresh rate to save battery power, Auto HDR, new compatibility for Android apps, some performance improvements, and finally, DirectStorage, but DirectStorage is also in Windows 10 now so I can’t really count that. There are other things as well, but those are definitely all the things most people are going to care about.

Ok, let’s move on to the bad now… First of all, the inane TPM and processor requirements for Windows 11 were very quickly bypassed in the installer by the community, and when they ran this unlocked Windows 11… Surely it crashed, right? It blue-screened or it instantly shut down or, at very least, it must have been unstable! Right… ? Actually nope. It was totally fine and ran great, proving just how arbitrary Microsoft’s requirements for Windows 11 really were. But we’ll get into exactly how to do that later.

Alright, fine then! So Windows 11 has some annoying requirements, and Windows 11 Home makes me get and use a Microsoft account, but it doesn’t matter because I’ll just bypass the requirements if I need to, and I never wanted to use Home edition anyway. No biggy. Well yes, actually. There’s a big biggy. Specifically concerning that latter part. You see, Microsoft, not content with the verbal beating they got during Windows 11’s announcement, also announced just a little after Windows 11’s release that Windows 11 Pro would, in the future, also require a Microsoft account. (https://www.theverge.com/2022/2/18/22940517/windows-11-pro-require-microsoft-account-internet-connection) The link for the relevant news article will be in the description. So basically, no more local user accounts. Period.

And if that’s still somehow not enough for you to completely pass on Windows 11 for good, don’t worry. There’s more. So, you know that LONG section we went through concerning all of Windows 10’s problems? Yeah, Windows 11 has ALL of them as well. And then you add to that the removal of Start menu folders, neutered widgets in comparison to even Vista’s widgets, more intrusive ads in search, removed support for bringing an app into focus by dragging a file to its taskbar button, removed support for moving the taskbar to the left, right, and top areas of the screen, removed support for changing the size of the taskbar or its icons, removed support for showing window labels on the taskbar, removed support for customizing the individual system tray icons, removed taskbar shortcuts and settings formerly accessed by right-clicking the taskbar, and finally, a more annoying right-click context menu.

Ok, that should be everything. Oh wait. Whoops. OOPSY-DAISY. No. That’s not everything. My bad, guys. So what else could there possibly be then? Well… Apparently a lot more with links for each! It turns out we also got core programs forcibly tied to security certificates that can expire (https://www.pcgamer.com/windows-11-features-break-due-to-an-expired-certificate/), Microsoft Edge being incredibly irritating to replace as the default browser (https://www.howtogeek.com/774542/windows-11-officially-shuts-down-firefoxs-default-browser-workaround/), a stupid watermark if you install Windows 11 on unsupported PCs (https://www.windowslatest.com/2022/03/21/windows-11-microsoft-approves-desktop-watermark-for-unsupported-pcs/), Microsoft almost putting ads into Windows Explorer (https://www.theverge.com/2022/3/15/22979251/microsoft-file-explorer-ads-windows-11-testing) and there’s even been rumors that TPM could very possibly be used to enforce DRM- I mean, what in the fuck, Microsoft??? What in the hell is wrong with you???

*sigh* Fine… Whatever… Let’s just… Move on. So say you for some weird… Inexplicable reason want to run Windows 11. What are some things you should do? Well, the first order of business is getting past the installer. So unplug and/or disable any internet you have going to your PC, and during the install, when it asks you to set up a Microsoft account to continue, press Shift+F10 and then in the command prompt, type in taskmgr. Then click more details and scroll down to the Network Connection Flow process and then right click it and end the task. That should bypass the online account requirement entirely. Keep in mind though, this method is probably going to get patched by Microsoft sooner or later.

Second, if Microsoft deems your PC unsupported, you’ll get that irritating little “System requirements not met” watermark on the bottom right and you may not receive updates. Thankfully, you can remove the watermark super easily… For now. Just go into Regedit, and Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER and then to Control Panel. Then on the right side, look for a UnsupportedHardwareNotificationCache key. Right click it and select Modify, then change the SV2 DWORD value from 1 to 0. Then save, exit Regedit, and restart your PC. The watermark should then be removed.

After all that, the next is the UI. Now, there’s a free program called StartAllBack that will fix a ton of issues with 11’s Start menu and UI. (https://startallback.com/) Link in the description. And then there’s Start11 by Stardock which does the same thing. (https://www.stardock.com/products/start11/) Link also in the description. BUT… These are paid programs. For a good free program, Start Menu X seems to be the only game in town. (https://www.startmenux.com/index.html) Link in the you know where already. Oh, and to make the process of switching default browsers much more painless, use EdgeDeflector (https://www.ctrl.blog/entry/edgedeflector-default-browser.html) Link in the castle of Hogwarts. Now, if I remember correctly, this program may now be unnecessary due to Microsoft reversing their browser shenanigans but… I’m sorry, at this point, I just don’t care enough to look. The program’s there if you want it.

And then there’s ThisIsWin11. (https://github.com/builtbybel/ThisIsWin11) Link in the castle of Hyrule. I saved this tool for last as it’s definitely the most far-reaching one. While it does have the surface feature of showing you around Windows 11, that’s not really why I’m mentioning it here. I’m mentioning it because it will allow you to debloat Windows 11 quite handily plus give you some other handy tweaks.

And now let’s move on to… Wait… Are we done with Windows 11? We are! We’re finally done! Great success!
 

Arnox

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This will be not only my first, but also probably my last video on Windows because to be honest, I’m getting incredibly sick of the direction it’s heading, so I consider this huge video a sort of goodbye. Ever since 2015, Windows has been regressing further and further to the point where I now consider it to be a huge mistake to continue supporting this operating system. In the meantime, I’ll be running a Windows 8.1 Professional install until it finally becomes no longer worth it to do so. As to what I’ll be transitioning to, well, modern MacOS is hardly any better than modern Windows for numerous reasons, so that leaves Linux. There’s also HaikuOS, and while it is making lots of progress, I feel their driver situation is still in pretty bad shape at the moment. And ReactOS is just… Unstable. Has been since the beginning of time it seems.

So, because of this and because Linux is beginning to become more and more of a viable alternative every single year, I have begun switching to and acclimating myself to MX Linux specifically. I love it and it will be what I will be personally supporting in the present into the future. This also means you can expect a huge Linux video sometime in the future as well. Even so though, I’ll miss what Windows used to be. I have a lot of fond memories of it from 98 SE to 8.1. The OS for the most part used to be stable, performant, easy to use, and feature rich, and in that span from Windows 95 to even Windows 8, Windows did a lot of great things. But now, those days are gone. So thank you, Microsoft for your old cool software, but also, fuck you, Microsoft for your new shitty software. This is goodbye. And until our next meeting, I bid my audience adieu.
 
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