1. Is it a NEW TEAM?
2. Is it a NEW DESIGN?
3. Is it using NEW TECH?
0-1: Safe (but not guaranteed)
3: Expect Failure
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I've never liked that setting. It doesn't really make anything any easier for me and just slows down the Start menu (at least with earlier version of Windows). It also doesn't change that fact that so many things have been pointlessly renamed, muddled together, and hidden away. It takes 3 or so extra clicks to get to the settings of a network device. Why can't I just right-click the system bar icon of an active network and select properties?
More or less the same, though 98 is better than 95 and NT4 is better than both.
I preferred 2000 over XP but accepted XP once I configured it to be more like 2000. With time I considered XP to be marginally superior.
I strongly resisted 7 over XP but accepted 7 once I configured it to be more like XP (thanks in large part to Classic Shell). With these changes I consider it markedly superior to XP but remain annoyed by some changes to infrequently used tasks such as the navigating the control panel. In most ways it is more user friendly and capable and much less glitchy.
Excepting missteps like ME and Vista, Windows has generally improved with each iteration. I'm not so hopeful if it comes to using 8 but admit I don't know much about it.
It's called "trade dress" and it isn't uncommon. Seven Towns claims ownership of its Rubik's Cube color scheme for example. Recently Apple successfully sued Samsung on trade dress grounds for the visual similarity of their products. It's look-and-feel infringement. If the claimant has a powerful enough brand and can show enough similarities, they can easily prevent competitors from diluting their trademark with a trade dress infringement argument.
I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.