Re: M$ Long History
The Windows 95 UI was far, far ahead of the ridiculous "program groups" pseudo-file system shell (progman.exe) of 3.0/3.1. MS put a lot of effort into the 95 interface-- they even made a selling point out of all the research they'd done into usability and how people use PCs. It worked; 95 was a quantum leap in usability. I remember saying at the time that it was the first Windows that really had a reason to exist. Its instability was a completely separate issue (among other things, it was the early days of PnP, and PCs of the era still had ISA slots, which were never designed for any kind of self-configuration).
All of that research MS did into the UI is still valid. Human ergonomics haven't changed, and the way our minds work haven't either. Evolution doesn't happen in a 20 year time frame (unless you're a bacterium or something similar, I guess). With that in mind, one might wonder why MS, after reaching the holy grail of UI development, has subsequently spent so much time trying to bury the successful and popular interface they introduced with 95. We've had to resort to aftermarket programs like Classic Shell, Old New Explorer, 7+ Taskbar Tweaker, and other similar things to undo Microsoft's often bizarre decisions to change things that people liked and that worked well for them.
Windows 2000 was the last version of Windows that didn't need considerable tweaking to get it to work the way it should (IMO). XP required only minor modifications to system settings to get it back on the right track (disable Luna, enable Classic start menu). From that point forward, each successive version of Windows would require more and more effort to restore sanity.
With Windows 10, it's simply not possible to restore sanity anymore. The UI is more similar to the "Classic" standard on the surface (no pun intended) than with 8, but it still pales in comparison to a UI made strictly for the desktop (one without any unavoidable "app" bits like Settings, complete with the oversized, simplistic controls typical of mobile UIs).
If the "am I a phone or a PC?" UI was the worst of what 10 had to offer, though, it could perhaps be forgiven... but all of the other stuff that's wrong with 10 make complaints about the UI seem like rearranging deck chairs on the sinking Titanic.
I was still using XP well into Windows 8's reign as the newest Windows. When I built a new PC several years ago, I knew it was time to ditch 32-bit Windows... but I (like so many others) took a pass on 8 and went instead to 7. That was only a short time before retail shipments of 7 (from MS) were ended-- and I was just getting on board. I had little interest in 8, from what I'd seen of it.
The irony! Win 8 failed as a product because so many others avoided it as I had. Win 10 was the answer; it was going to be more like 7 to get all of the desktop PC users back on board. Now that I've seen 10, I've rejected it even more strongly than I had 8... and now I'm toying with the idea of migrating to 8.1 in 2020 (when Win 7 security support ends) for what I can't then do in Linux (if there is any such thing I need native Windows for at that point).
It took something as bad as Windows 10 to make me appreciate Windows 8... not for what it has, but for what it lacks: forced updates, Cortana, a EULA that could be summed up as "all your data is belong to us," telemetry that can't be turned all the way off and that turns itself back on whenever it wants to, unwanted app downloads/installations, ads in the OS, unwanted uninstallation of whatever programs 10 thinks I don't need... on and on.
I never thought that having a commercial OS without ads, that didn't spy on me and phone home to MS, and where I had control over updates was even something I had to think about. Now, those formerly taken for granted must-haves have been stripped from Windows, and 8's UI (whose rough edges were softened with 8.1, and can be improved even more with aftermarket addons) doesn't seem as intolerable as it once did.