Unless U R going with some tweaky 'microkernel' thing that doesn't really run N E software out there, 95 release BEFORE IE existed is way faster than the rest - faster than Linux/BSD variants as well. It was written back in the days when CPU were SLOOOOW, so contains NO 'bloatware' or 'emulation' B.S.
U can also run a lot of NT & SE & other types of stuff on it. I regularly sell 2TB (2,000,000 gig) servers running 95 OSR1 (pre-IE), with 12 drives, triple monitors, etc. Of course, Micro$oft tells people this is 'impossible', etc. I offered 2 send them a server with my various tweaks. They were not interested. They know.
Keep in mind, the goal of all 'corporate' type software companies is NOT 2 give U the best product, but 2 continually CRIPPLE it with bugs, so as 2 keep U in constant 'upgrade cycles'. In the 'free' software community (Linux, etc.) their goal is 2 make it so overcomplicated 2 configure that U need 2 hire a programmer type 2 navigate U through the process. Just setting up triple monitors on Linux is a nightmare compared 2 95. Basically I combine different elements of different M$ OSes.
I've tried Wine & other sort of 'compatability layers'. THey don't work. Also, Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista - they R all just NT with a DOS compatability layer EMULATED (thus very slow 4 DOS-based programs).
Even on Windows 98 SE the way I tweak it out, programs open in under a second usually. Do U really need more speed than that? Mac OSX is BSD, & slower 'cuz there's a ton of emulation layer there. IN short...
Need speed? Get 95osr1 (pre-IE)
Need a bit more user-friendliness than 95 OSR1, but still faster than XP? Get 98SE =)
Need maximum compatability? Get XP Home edition
Need Maximum 'bragging rights'? Get a Linux nightmare
Need maximum 'trendyness' (& lots of brand new bugs & incompatabilities)? Get Vista!
I suppose 98SE might B slower than XP in some cases with default install. U must tweak them out - get rid of the animation & active desktop nonsense. Also, use the 'shell' from 95osr1 in 98SE - makes it go way faster, & will not crash. U will notice, even in Vista - ever since 95 was merged with IE (since 95 osr2), Explorer will crash after moving lots of files (eventually). 95osr1 does not have this PURPOSELY IMPLANTED CRIPPLING ARTIFACT. The reason it was PUT THERE (probably by Gates himself) is 2 drive sales of the 'server' market 2 NT variants. It's all a big scam - Y sell people 1 good OS that worx & does it all, when U can peddle 1,000 different scams, & keep them switching around & 'upgrading' forever
Reminds me of the oil industry HAHAHA
Remember, Linux is about making it so complicated U need 2 hire someone 2 help U. It's basically a waste of time - unless U enjoy learning lots of stupid arbitrary code languages just 2 make your PC configure 4 U.