Windows XP, that is. And no, I am not ashamed of admitting it.
The question is why I should be running XP in the first place. It had to do with my university taking part in Microsoft's MSDNAA program which makes most of their software available to academic circles. For the first time in my life, this gave me the chance to use a Microsoft product legally. So I copied the Windows XS Professional installation CD from a friend of mine who was so nice to have already downloaded it, got me a registration key and installed it.
It didn't go very well at first. XP was unable to talk to my DSL-router at all and it somehow made it block so that not even Debian could connect to it any longer without a prior restart of the router. Then, after XP was installed, WindowsME was gone. There was no way to tell lilo that there were WindowsME, XP and Debian on my two hard-disks. It turned out that the XP hard-disk partitioner insisted on creating the NTFS partition in a logical partition embedded in an extended one (ME was on the first partition of this disk and that was a primary one). So I screwed up the partitioning and and had to wipe out XP again.
After that, ME would still not boot. It was recognized by lilo again, but apparently XP made changes to the ME installation. Fortunately, I found an old ME bootdisk and was able to do a
sys c: to fix things.
Now being smarter with partitions, I partitioned the ME-disk from Debian with cfdisk, making sure that this time I only had two primary partitions. Upon starting the XP installer, it did not accept the thusly created partition. I tried all kind of funny things to make it work, to no avail of course. I even managed to wipe out the MBR temporarily. I say temporarily because it re-apparead after a while. That must have happened when I was feverishly copying some data over to Debian from the ME partition because I was very sure I had destroyed the ME installation. Why it reapparead, I can't say. But I was relieved.
After a while, I figured out why XP refused to accept my partitions: I forgot to make a reboot after partitioning. I somehow assumed that repartitioning the disk and then starting the XP installer by booting from CD would register the new disk-layout. But apparently that was not the case. Anyway, after those annoyances, I installed XP again and this time was delighted to see that it had none of the previous problems with my router.
So why do I like XP so much? It seems to be a very well conceived system. Each and every bit of hardware in my machine was detected. I particularly loved it when I switched on my printer for the first time (a very old OKI laster-printer). It game me a plock-sound and a pop-up at the systray informing me that it detected and configured a new printer-device. And indeed it did. Lovely!
Also, the whole user-interface makes a lot more sense than the old ME/2000 style. It manages to hide away distracting information from me without sacrificing vital ones. It feels very lean and responsive even though one would assume that it's more bloated than previous Windows releases. Also, I feel reasonably safe even when using the Internet Explorer (which is due to the fact that I am behind a router and Microsoft's new firewall appear to work). Thanks to SP2, IE finally has a popup-block that works just as well as the one from Firefox that I got so familiar with.
There are only a few annoyances, mostly related to software-installations. I install as admin and most of the time the software has been properly set up for my user account, too. But some software fails in this respect. This is probably true for software that has been written with the old 98/ME setup in mind. It's not such a big problem, though.