Can you guess for how many years is Windows with us? 30 years. Yes, 30 years of creating, developing and making Windows operating system better. Can you name all the systems that were published since then? Don’t worry if you can’t because in this article I will name them all. Check out the amazing history of Microsoft Windows.
The era begins. First operating system from Microsoft, called Windows 1.0 was announced in 1983. but it took two years until its official release. Exact date of launch was 20. November 1985. Windows 1 came with some programs like MS-DOS files, MS Paint, Windows Writer, Notepad, Calculator, Calendar and one simple game called “Reversi”. To run this system computers needed 256KB of space, graphic card and 512KB HD to run large amount of programs. This system was such a success because of mouse control. Microsoft helped people to get used to move and click with mouse on screen.
After the great success with Windows 1, Microsoft decided to launch a second version of its operating system – Windows 2.0. This system was launched on December 9th 1987. System was already used in large amount and lots of business companies had a computer with this OS in their offices. Windows 2 had an expanded memory and desktop icons. Second version also included Control Panel, minimize and maximize options and programs like Word and Excel.
Windows 3.0 was launched in October of 1991. and it was good with minor bugs that were fixed with the launch of 3.1. version in April 1992. Thar version was sold in millions of copies in just two months after its launch. Windows 3 was also the first Windows that required a hard drive to be launched. The 3.1. update was so popular because of TrueType fonts that made Windows a good publishing platform. Microsoft also introduced a popular game Minesweeper and it was the first OS to be published on CD-ROM. This was the beginning of a design that we still use today.
The fourth operating system from Microsoft didn’t have much success as the next ones but it is still worth mentioning. With the launch of Windows NT in 1993. a new branch was started called Server OS. NT was able to fill every needs for growing LAN networks.
Windows 95 was a complete revolution. It was published on 24th August 1995. and over 7 million copies were sold in less than 5 weeks. Great feature about this system is that it came with support for networking. It also introduced start menu, start button and options for minimize, maximize and close on every window. First edition of Internet Explorer was also published the same year. Windows 95 came in new 32-bit environment and it was focused on multitasking so it required 386 DX or stronger processor and at least 4MB of RAM.
Windows 98 was built like 95 but with some additional features like the new Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, Windows Media Player 6.2 and Microsoft Chat. It was the first Microsoft OS made for everyone and computers at home became usual at that time. Great feature of this OS was Windows Driver Model for components and accessories. That was presented as one driver that will support all next versions of Microsoft Windows OS. Windows 98 also had an improved support for USB.
Windows 2000 came with lots of new possibilities and better safety. It was much simpler to use than other Windows OS and it came with the possibility of better networking and simpler installation of hardware because of support for wireless devices. It was launched in February 2000. and it server as the basis for Windows XP. It was also the first Windows OS that supported hibernation.
Windows ME was, at least before Vista, one of the worst Microsoft operating systems. It was the last OS based on MS-DOS. It was released a few months after Windows 2000, in September 2000. It came with some important features for customers and it included better system recovery features. Windows ME also introduced Windows Media Player 7, Windows Movie Maker and a new version of Internet Explorer, version 5.5 But despite all of that, the OS was full of bugs, had to install and it simply wasn’t good enough.
Windows XP is one of the best OS ever made. It was released in October 2001 and it was the first OS that was clearly fast and stable. Windows XP was based on Windows NT and also introduced some of the great elements from Windows ME. Start menu got a great redesign and we also got some of the “evergreens” like green start button, familiar wallpaper and blue task bar. Windows XP also came with ClearType feature which made text on this OS readable on LCD screens. You also got some tools like CD burning, auto play and some other interesting features. The support for Windows XP was discontinued in April 2014. The correct number is not exactly known but Windows XP was used on about 430 million computers at that time. But, it wasn’t flawless because Windows XP had some major security problems and this OS was heaven for hackers and criminals. In 13 years from it release to Microsoft discontinuation of support, XP got few updates and had different versions like:
- Windows XP 64-bit
- Windows XP Professional x64 Edition
- Windows XP Media Center Edition
- Windows XP Tablet PC Edition
- Windows XP Embedded
It doesn’t matter how great the next Windows versions will be, this system will always be remembered as one of the greatest.
Windows XP had an amazing success and Microsoft wanted to do something even better. In January 2007 Vista was launched. This was the most secure system so far and it came in 35 world languages. But, it failed. Vista had a lots of bugs, lots of problems with app permissions and it was very slow. But there were some good things about this system. Vista included Microsoft DirectX 10, Windows Media Player 11 and Internet Explorer 7. Vista also included a new security program called Windows Defender. But, it will always be marked as a failure.
Windows 7 was released in 2009. and it is currently the most popular and with XP the best Windows OS. This OS got many changes with surfing, music, video, photos and lots else. Windows 7 is also the best selling OS in history. It was based on Windows Vista and it presented everything that Vista should be. 7 fixed all the Vista problems, bugs and errors. It was also much faster, very secure and much easier to use.
The next Windows OS was Windows 8. This OS introduced the Metro design and it got some major changes when compared to other Windows operating systems. Windows 8 didn’t have the popular start button and start menu. Instead of that, this OS introduced a new, touch-friendly start screen that was made by tiles that represented different programs. Even though there was no start button, desktop was still there. The main advantage of Windows 8 is that it was a lot faster than its predecessor and it included Windows Store which offered lots of Windows apps. Windows 8 is very good OS but it was criticized for ditching start button.
Start button was one of the main new features of Windows 8.1. Windows 8 got an update that allowed users to bring the start screen when they click on start button. Another great feature is the option to boot on Windows 8.1 desktop which was a great feature for desktop PC users.
And the last Windows? Windows 10 was announced on September 30th 2014. It is still unavailable at full version and you can have it only as test version to try it. Windows 10 brings back the traditional start menu and also includes some interesting new features. It was designed as an attempt to combine all Windows platforms including Windows Phone and tablets. It was launched on July 29th, one day ago.
And we reached the end. I hope you learned something new about Microsoft and its operating systems. There could be more of them and who knows what future will bring us? Maybe some more advanced OS? But until that, we should enjoy in what we have so far. Below you can check the infographic about the history of Microsoft Windows: