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The History of Windows

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In this blog, we will talk about the world’s most popular operating system, Microsoft Windows.

So let’s begin…

What is Windows?

Microsoft Windows is a group of several graphical operating system families, all of which are developed, marketed and sold by Microsoft. Each family caters to a certain sector of the computing industry.

In other words, Windows or win is an operating environment created by Microsoft that provides an interface, known as a GUI (graphical user interface), for computers. Windows eliminates the need to memorize commands for the command line (MS-DOS) by using a mouse to navigate through menus, dialog boxes, buttons, tabs, and icons.

If you are using a PC (IBM) computer, you are most likely using a version of Windows. If you are on an Apple computer, you are using macOS.

History of Windows

If I ask you people which version of Windows you have seen first, most of the people will say they have seen Windows XP first, some of the them will say Microsoft 98 and few of them will say Windows 7 even. 
Do you know about journey of windows from command line interface (CLI) operating system till the advanced Windows 10? Most of you probably don’t know.

Today we will discuss how Windows started, which changes occurred and how we reached Windows 10.

So let’s go back in past in 1981!

Microsoft DOS (1981)

Windows began in 1981 with with the name of MS DOS operating system (Microsoft Disk Operating System).  It was an operating system for x86-based personal computers mostly developed by Microsoft. MS-DOS was the main operating system for IBM PC compatible  personal computers during the 1980s and the early 1990s. There was no kind of user interface in it. You can use it by writing commands in it. There were no icons in it. It only contained a black screen with white text written by you but it was the beginning of the the personal computers.

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Windows 1.0 (1985)

Now it was the era of 1985 and Windows has launched its new operating system Windows 1.0. It was a graphical personal computer operating environment  developed by Microsoft. It ran as a graphical, 16-bit multi-tasking shell on top of an existing MS-DOS installation. The major update was that it provided an environment which can run graphical programs  designed for Windows. Microsoft stopped providing support and updates for the system on December 31, 2001.

Microsoft 2.0 (1987)

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Now it was the era of 1987 and Windows has launched its another new operating system Windows 2.0. Windows 2.0 was a 16-bit Microsoft Windows GUI-based operating environment. It was mainly designed for Intel 286 processors. There were many new updates in it. Windows 2.0 introduced more sophisticated keyboard-shortcutsand it contained icons and the terminology of “Minimize” and “Maximize“. It also included the extra graphics support. It contained 16-color VGA graphics. The first Windows versions of Microsoft Word  and  Microsoft Excel ran on Windows 2.0. It was also the first Windows version to integrate the control panel. Several programs such as paint program (Paintbrush) and the calculator were included.

Windows 3.0, 3.1 (1990-1994)

Windows 3.0 and 3.1 were the most popular operating system during the years of 1990 and 1994. Windows 3.0, a graphical environment, was the third major release of Microsoft Windows. Windows 3.0 originated in 1988 when David Weise andMurray Sargent independently decided to develop a protected mode Windows as an experiment. It had an improved user interface than Windows 2.0 as well as other technical improvements to make better use of the memory management capabilities of Intel’s 80286 and 80386 processors. It was the beginning of the computer gaming as it included the card Microsoft Solitaire and Minesweeper. The major update was that the Windows icons and graphics supported a full 16 colors in EGA and VGA mode while Windows 2.0 had only a very limited palette for colored menus. 256-color SVGA modes were supported for the first time. This was the first version to run Windows programs in protected mode.

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Windows 95 (1995)

Now the Windows has launched its new operating system Windows 95. Windows 95 was a consumer-oriented operating system developed by Microsoft as part of its Windows 9x family of operating systems. Its main update was that its software ran on 32 bit architecture. It included the “Plug and Play” support and the “Print” support. Windows 95 introduced numerous functions and features that were featured in later Windows versions, such as the taskbar, the “Start” button and the ways the user could navigate. In Windows 95, the currently running applications were displayed as buttons on a taskbar across the bottom of the screen. The taskbar also contained a notification area used to display icons for background applications, a volume control and the current time. Also there were no restrictions for the long file name because of 32 bit file access. It was the first operating system to introduce Internet Explorer. Microsoft ended extended support for Windows 95 on December 31, 2001.

Windows 98 (1998)

Windows 98 was introduced in 1998 with many improved features. Windows 98 was a graphical operating system developed by Microsoft as part of its Windows 9x family of operating systems. The main updates were that DVD, USB and ACPI were introduced in it. Windows 98 included Microsoft Magnifier, Accessibility Wizard and Microsoft Active Accessibility. Users could configure the font in Notepad and Microsoft Paint supported GIF transparency. Windows 98 also supported a Fast Shutdown feature that initiates shutdown without uninitializing device drivers.  Disk Cleanup, a new tool, enabled users to clear their disks of unnecessary files. Microsoft ended mainstream support for both Windows 98 and 98 SE (Second Edition) on June 30, 2002, and extended support on July 11, 2006.

Windows ME (2000)

Windows ME was launched by the Windows in 2000. Windows Millennium Edition, or Windows Me was a graphical operating system developed by Microsoft as part of its Windows 9x family of operating systems. It was the last operating system released in the Windows 9x series. Major updates were that it included Internet Explorer 5.5, Windows Media Player 7, and the new Windows Movie Maker software, which provided basic video editing. Windows Me features numerous improvements for improving cold boot time, pre and post-logon boot times and time required for resuming from hibernation. Windows Me introduced a net crawlingfeature which automatically searches out and creates shortcuts to network shares and printers in My Network Places. In Windows 2000, a program called On-Screen Keyboard was added, which made it possible to input characters using the mouse instead of the keyboard.

Windows 2000 (2000)

WIndows 2000 was launched by Windows in 2000. Windows 2000 was an operating system that was produced by Microsoft as a part of the Windows NT family of operating systems. Microsoft marketed Windows 2000 as the most secure Windows version ever at the time; however, it became the target of a number of high-profile virus attacks such as Code Red and  Nimda. Windows 2000 introduced many of the new features of Windows 98 and Windows 98 SE into the NT line, such as the Windows Desktop Update, Internet Explorer 5, Outlook Express, NetMeeting, FAT32 support,  Windows Driver Model, Internet Connection Sharing, Windows Media Player, WebDAV support. Windows 2000 introduced the Multilingual User Interface (MUI). Besides English, Windows 2000 incorporates support for Arabic, Armenian, Baltic, Central European, Cyrillic, Georgian, Greek, Hebrew, Indic, Japanese, Korean, Simplified Chinese, Thai, Traditional Chinese, Turkic, Vietnamese and Western European languages.

Windows XP (2001)

Now it was the era of the most popular and successful operating system, Windows XP. Windows XP is a personal computer operating system produced by Microsoft as part of the Windows NT family of operating systems.  Windows XP’s interface was overhauled with a new visual appearance, with an increased use of alpha compositing effects, drop shadows, and “visual styles”, which completely changed the appearance of the operating system. Windows XP was originally bundled with Internet Explorer 6, Outlook Express 6, Windows Messenger, and MSN Explorer. New networking features were also added, including Internet Connection Firewall. Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop were also added, which allow users to connect to a computer running Windows XP from across a network or the Internet and access their applications, files, printers, and devices or request help. Extended support for Windows XP ended on April 8, 2014.

Windows Vista (2006)

Windows Vista was launched by Windows in 2006. Windows Vista is an operating system that was produced by Microsoft for use on personal computers, including home and business desktops, laptops, tablet PCs and media center PCs. New features of Windows Vista include an updated graphical user interface , a new search component called Windows Search, redesigned networking, audio, print and display sub-systems, and new multimedia tools such as Windows DVD Maker. Vista aimed to increase the level of communication between machines on a home network, using peer-to-peer technology to simplify sharing files and media between computers and devices. Most of the standard computer games included in previous versions of Windows have been redesigned to showcase Vista’s new graphical capabilities. New games available in Windows Vista are Chess Titans, Mahjong Titans and Purble PlaceWindows Speech Recognition (WSR), a speech recognition component, was developed by Microsoft for the Windows Vista operating system that enables the use of voice commands to control the desktop user interface.

Windows 7 (2009)

Windows 7 was launched by Windows in 2009. Windows 7 is a personal computer operating system that was produced by Microsoft as part of the Windows NT family of operating systems. Among Windows 7’s new features are advances in touch and handwriting recognition, support for virtual hard disks, improved performance on multi-core processors,improved boot performance,  DirectAccess, and kernel improvements. The taskbar has seen the biggest visual changes, where the old Quick Launch toolbar has been replaced with the ability to pin applications to taskbar. Buttons for pinned applications are integrated with the task buttons. Internet Spades, Internet Backgammon and Internet Checkers, which were removed from Windows Vista, were restored in Windows 7.  New additions to this list of components include Internet Explorer 8, Windows Media Player 12, Windows Media Center, Windows Search. A new system known as “Libraries” was added for file management; users can aggregate files from multiple folders into a “Library“. By default, libraries for categories such as Documents, Pictures, Music, and Video are created, consisting of the user’s personal folder and the Public folder for each.

Windows 8 (2012)

Windows 8 was launched by Windows in 2012. Windows 8 is a personal computer operating system that was produced by Microsoft as part of the Windows NT family of operating systems. New features and functionality in Windows 8 include a faster startup through UEFI  integration and a new lock screen with a clock and notifications. Windows 8 also adds native support for USB 3.0 devices, which allow for faster data transfers and improved power management with compatible devices. Windows Explorer, which has been renamed File Explorer, now includes a ribbon in place of the command bar. Task Manager has been redesigned, including a new processes tab with the option to display fewer or more details of running applications and background processes. Windows 8 introduces a new style of application, Windows Store apps. According to Microsoft developer Jensen Harris, these apps are to be optimized for touchscreen environments and are more specialized than current desktop applications. Microsoft stopped providing support and updates for Windows 8 RTM on January 12, 2016.

Windows 10 (2015)

Windows 10 was launched by Windows in 2015. Windows 10 is a series of personal computer operating systems produced by Microsoft as part of its Windows NT family of operating systems. Windows 10 makes its user experience and functionality more consistent between different classes of device, and addresses shortcomings in the user interface that were introduced in Windows 8. On Windows 10, Microsoft Store serves as a unified storefront for apps, video content, and ebooks. Windows 10 also allows web apps and desktop software to be packaged for distribution on Microsoft Store. A new iteration of the Start menu is used on the Windows 10 desktop, with a list of places and other options on the left side, and tiles representing applications on the right. The Settings app (formerly PC Settings) was refreshed and now includes more options that were previously exclusive to the desktop Control Panel. Windows 10 introduces a new default web browser, Microsoft EdgeInternet Explorer 11 is maintained on Windows 10 for compatibility purposes, but is deprecated in favor of Edge and will no longer be actively developed. Windows 10 provides heavier integration with the Xbox ecosystem. Windows 10 also offers the Wi-Fi Sense feature originating from Windows Phone 8.1; users can optionally have their device automatically connect to suggested open hotspots, and share their home network’s password with contacts (either via Skype, People, or Facebook) so they may automatically connect to the network on a Windows 10 device without needing to manually enter its password.

So finally, the Windows has reached its peak, Windows 10!

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