Happy Birthday Windows

It’s a month full of birthdays as not only 24 years ago this week was yours truly bought into the world but it is also twenty years this month that the first copies of Windows began shipping onto the market.I thought to celebrate we would take a quick look back over the Windows history.

Windows 1.0 was initially announced to the world back in November 1983 with a shipping date of early 1984 with minimum system specs of a floppy drive and 192kb of RAM.Even back then Microsoft were hopeless at keeping to deadlines and technical requirements so over a year later Windows was shipped to the world with minimum of 256kb of RAM with Microsoft suggesting that you should really have double that amount of RAM and a hard drive.Windows 1.0 included a number of applications that would be familiar to modern day Windows users such as Calculator, Clock, Write, Paint and Calendar.

Windows 2.0 was released in December 1987 which introduced overlapping Windows and Icons to the public whereas previous versions of Windows were largely text based and multiple open windows couldn’t be overlapped but rather tiled across the screen.A later version designed for the new 386 processor was also released which included improved multi-tasking abilities.

Windows 3.0 introduced a number of new features such as program manager and file manager along with the ability for programs to use memory beyond 640kb which had previously been a fairly substantial stumbling block of earlier versions.Windows 3.0 was one of the first versions of the program that truly clicked and soon a number of home users, business users and developers began adopting the software.One of the most popular incarnations of the software, Windows 3.1 was released in April 1992 which focused on improving the stability of Windows 3.0 as well as introducing a few new features.

Windows 95 was released back in August 2005 accompanied by a huge advertising campaign and the Operating System became a great success due a number of factors.One such factor was simply timing; the home market was booming and the Internet was starting to make its way into homes.The tools provided by the Operating System to developers made it easy to create applications that could connect to the Internet and hence fantastic new programs such as Netscape Navigator started to appear on the market.Windows 95 was technically superior to previous incarnations being designed for 32-bit applications and in most cases removing the necessity for users to often switch back to the old MS-DOS Operating System that was previously so frequently required.

Windows 98 was another popular Operating System that was later superseded by both Windows 98 SE and then Windows ME but to be honest they were only slightly different to the original.

Although many home users wouldn’t have been aware of it, the majority of the Microsoft product team were at this time working on developing the Windows NT Operating System which had always been the version of Windows that business users relied on due primarily to the superior stability and networking performance of this OS offered.Windows NT 4.0 had shipped in August 2006 and then Windows NT 5.0 which was later renamed Windows 2000 appeared in February 2000.

Windows XP was the next major product that Microsoft released and remains the Operating System that the majority of us use to the current day.It released in October 2001 as a combination of the core of Windows 2000 and the user interface and compatibility of Windows 98 (note that I’m ignoring the lame duck Windows ME Operating System) and has been a fantastic success.Although it is undeniable that the software has experienced a number of problems with early compatibility and ongoing security concerns it is certainly the best that Microsoft has to offer at present.

Looking forward, Microsoft plan to release Windows Vista in the second half of 2006 as a replacement for Windows XP and I will be previewing this new version of Windows in a future Click Article.

One of the key factors to the success of Windows has undoubtedly been creating a standard platform so that all software looks and acts in a similar fashion.If you take someone who has been using Windows 95 for the last 10 years and give them Windows XP they will have absolutely no problems using it as it looks and behaves in a almost identical fashion.Perhaps this has been the biggest stumbling block for programs such as Linux which rely on the user changing the way that they use their machine from what they have been accustomed.

Happy birthday Windows!

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.