Instead of pushing Linux
zealotry, GNU purism
, and other operating system bigotry
, why not just make factual writeups
Microsoft Windows 95 is an operating system. It offered a document-centric shift from previous versions of Windows, a new filesystem that offered long filenames without obsoleting 8.3 filename software designs, and self-tuning caches, and offered a first-generation peripheral sensing system called Plug & Play.
The market dominance of Microsoft may be good or bad, but the Plug & Play paradigm gave hardware manufacturers a wake-up call. Stop making the old legacy hardware designs that require jumper settings and unmodifyable BIOS ROMs.
It was mostly for this reason that hardware and software required some level of certification, to show interoperability with Windows 95's newer features. Such certification allowed the ISV or IHV to display the official "Designed for Windows 95" logo.
Released before Microsoft had any strategic focus towards the Internet, the original Windows 95 had security problems with their TCP/IP protocol stack, and with their own file-sharing system designed for more trusting local-area network setups.
For good, or for bad, Microsoft's Windows operating system held a monopoly on the market for personal computers built on the IBM legacy designs. The market grew from under 10 million PCs to over 150 million PCs within three revisions of Windows 3.0, Windows 3.1 and Windows 95. The Apple Macintosh lost some of its dominance in graphic arts to the PC, and to the low-end Silicon Graphics workstation. The NeXT cube, which was critically lauded, was not designed for the mainstream. The OS/2 war between IBM and Microsoft fractured any obvious choice for a robust server platform by either company, even though both OS/2 and Windows NT 3.1 have some good design.
Since Windows 95 was released, the Linux operating system has grown from a mere curiosity to a serious contender in the operating system market. While it still is not reaching mainstream appeal (say, even 5% of the end-user market at the time of this writeup), it has established a server-room foothold (by some accounts, over 40% of web server machines). It is clear that the platform will continue to grow, and drivers will be written to support a lot more "Plug & Play" compliant hardware devices.
Every operating system feature which makes hardware designers focus on useability, interoperability, ease of maintenance, and ease of replacement, helps ALL operating systems from that point on.