A History of Windows: The past of Microsoftâ€™s flagship OS
With the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft wants to take their popular OS to the next step. They are aiming to make the OS consistent on all platforms, including desktops, tablet, smartphones and Xbox. They have certainly come a long way, and it is hard to imagine Windows is 30 years old this year.
This leads us to the veritable lookback at where Windows has come from over these last 30 years. Windows 1.0
It is hard to think that we saw the first version of Windows on November 20th, 1985. It wasn‘t much to look at, as you can see in the pic above, but it was the start of a revolution in computer software.
It wasn‘t even a full-fledged OS at the time, but merely a 16-bit shell that ran on top of MS-DOS. It was still the Microsoft‘s first attempt and a graphical user interface, however. It was the first software from the Redmond company you could use with a mouse and keyboard, and even customise the colours throughout. It also saw the release of Steve Ballmer‘s ad that has gone viral in the internet age, which you can see below.
Only a couple of years later, in 1987, we saw the release of Microsoft‘s “˜refreshed‘ Windows platform. It wasn‘t actually very different from Windows 1.0, but streamlined the software to make it better, faster and more useful ““ what we would today call an iterative upgrade.
One interesting addition this time was the ability to change window sizes and have them overlap. Arguably, its biggest improvement was the ability to support VGA graphics. Windows 3.0 and 3.1
In 1990 Microsoft launched Windows 3, and followed that up in 1992 with Windows 3.1 ““ once again polishing the previous formula. Graphically and aesthetically speaking it was a massive upgrade for the operating system, and could be called the first successful version of Windows.
This version brought program and file managers, as well as the first time inclusions of the Windows classics Minesweeper and Solitaire. Windows 95
This was the version of Windows that took the entire world by storm. Microsoft had a massively expensive marketing strategy with Windows 95, which undoubtedly made it the most popular OS at the time.
The desktop as we know it today was born in this legendary version of Windows.
Microsoft even used the start from the new hit show Friends, Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry in the video guide below.
This is what we would call another iterative version of the operating system. Its most notable changes was the inclusion of the Quick Launch bar, as well as Internet Connection Sharing (ICS). It was also able to work with much better hardware, as well as a wider variety of hardware.
Here is another old school advert for you to feast on.
The first version of Windows that was considered a failure, Windows ME (Millennium Edition) was widely regarded to be to be slow, very buggy and largely unstable. Users also could no longer access MS-DOS fully, which meant you couldn‘t run many programs and disk utilities that required full “œreal mode“ DOS.
Based on its business orientated Windows NT software suite, Windows XP saw Microsoft properly bring their OS to the 21st century. It was far more stable and secure than we saw with Windows ME, and the GUI was better thought-out and more user friendly.
As a result of the huge success of Windows XP, it took Microsoft another 5 years before releasing the next update of Windows, the much maligned Windows Vista.
The new software ushered in a new graphical user interface called Aero and promised improved security. Unfortunately, Vista was also critically panned, with people complaining about its new restrictive DRM technologies, and high system requirements. It was also incompatible with anything that came before Vista (most likely due to the long wait and high hardware requirements).
Most people saw Windows 7 as the OS that Windows Vista was supposed to be. It had a couple of UI improvements, but the more noticeable changes was better performance, less bugs more stable nature of the OS. It was very successful for Microsoft and is still widely used today.
After the success of Windows 7, Microsoft had to solve their problems regarding declining PC sales. Sure, they had broken into mobile before, but their vision was one software package to rule them all. What we got was Windows 8, an OS to be succinct across PC, tablets and phones. Unfortunately, everything didn‘t go down so well.
The new “œMetro“ UI didn‘t go down as planned among consumers, with Microsoft trying to make the entire interface more touch-friendly. The OS received mixed reviews, with some people saying it worked better on tablets than on traditional systems.
The newest version of Microsoft‘s OS launched last week, on 29 July 2015. The vision is to bring us the best of Windows 7 and Windows 8 all in one package. With new features like Cortana and Edge, extensive desktop interface refinements and Microsoft’s free upgrade offer, it is a definitive step in the right direction.
Stay tuned for our full review of Windows 10, coming soon.
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