In 1995, it was the much-anticipated and heavily marketted successor to the ailing Windows 3.11 and the first 32-bit version of Windows for the home user. Unfortunately, because so much legacy software existed for MS-DOS, Microsoft had to build it as a 32-bit shell on top of MS-DOS, rather than a true 32-bit operating system like the NT branch (starting from Windows NT 3.1). Due to this glut of legacy software it took Microsoft over five years to release a true 32-bit version of Windows for the home user - Windows XP. Still, Windows 95 was a huge improvement over Windows 3.11, and while some of the user-interface changes were initially difficult to get used to, most people have found it far more intuitive and reliable.
For more about both products, as they are very similar, see Windows 98