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20 Windows features we love to hate

Our tribute to Microsoft's biggest flops

Windows Vista is great, right? Well, we all use it. But we'd like to ditch UAC (user access controls) - and what's with Aero? And this is not a new thing: here then, is our loving tribute to Microsoft's OS' biggest flops and flaws, from Windows 95's Active Desktop onwards.

In November 1985, Microsoft released Windows 1.0. And thus began Windows' 22-year reign (to date) as the world's most popular, most irritating computing platform.

Which Windows features have been responsible for the most angst? We tallied this list of offenders. Our roster includes several kinds of worsts: simple bad ideas, good ideas gone wrong, and a few ideas that started out terrible but eventually became surprisingly decent.

Here's our run-down of worst Windows features, from 20 down to number one.

20. DriveSpace

In a day in which half a terabyte of hard disk costs only around £50, it's easy to forget that megabytes of storage were once a rare and precious commodity, and disk-compression utilities felt slightly miraculous.

Microsoft's DoubleSpace was introduced with DOS 6.0 in 1993; after a patent suit by competitor Stac Electronics, it was replaced with a non-infringing twin, DriveSpace, which was part of Windows 95.

DriveSpace did indeed squeeze about twice the amount of stuff on to a disk, but the risk was immense, since data recovery was much tougher if something went awry. Windows XP was the first version without DriveSpace support of any sort - by then, nobody noticed or cared.

DriveSpace

DriveSpace

19. Windows Movie Maker

Windows Me (Millennium Edition) - which PC Advisor reckons is one of the worst products of all time - introduced Windows Movie Maker 1.0, Microsoft's answer to Apple's then-new iMovie video editor.

You could say it was a tad bare bones. It didn't do titling or effects, offered a grand total of one transition effect, and could output video in only a proprietary format.

Version 2.0, which came with Windows XP, was the first respectable one - although even it didn't live up to the Windows XP commercial it was featured in, which showed XP users flying Superman-style to the beat of Madonna's "Ray of Light". As for Windows Vista's Movie Maker 6.0, our biggest question is this - what happened to 3.0, 4.0, and 5.0?

Windows Movie MakerWindows Movie Maker

Windows Movie Maker

18. Web TV for Windows

New versions of Windows always seem to come with at least one much-hyped feature which instantly sinks into obscurity.

Windows 98 had the decidedly lacklustre WebTV For Windows - which, confusingly didn't have much to do with Microsoft's WebTV set-top box. Instead, it let you watch the tube (via a tuner card) and peruse TV listings.

It also offered interactive TV features through Intel's short-lived Intercast service. It was slow and unstable, clashed with Windows 98's screen savers, and locked up regularly even when nothing else was running. Fun bonus: the software also introduced a security flaw that could allow hackers to take over your PC.

Web TV for Windows

Web TV for Windows

17. Shut Down

Some people gripe about how long Windows takes to boot up. Us, we're more aggravated by how long it takes to shut down - and how often it seems to just give up before it's completed the job.

Microsoft says that shutting down works better in Vista, and it seems to - but we still get puzzled by the array of different ways to end a Windows session. (Here's a fascinating and revealing blog post by a former Microsoft developer who worked on Vista's Shut Down menu.)

Shut Down

Shut Down

16. Paint

Paint has been bundled with Windows since version 1.0 back in 1985, and it's changed remarkably little over the decades. (That's the Windows 3.0 edition, known as Paintbrush, in the image.)

With Vista's real photo-related features living in a different app called Windows Photo Gallery, it seems a safe bet that Microsoft won't ever bring Paint into the new millennium. If you want a taste of what Paint should be in 2007, check out the superb free photo editor known as Paint.net.

Paint

Paint


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