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30 years of Windows

Microsoft Windows 1.0 was introduced in November 1985 and for 30 years now, Windows has been a standard OS for business. The operating system has been overhauled nine times. But what have been the highlights of the Windows ‘religion’? Read on.

The first Windows ran on top of the command-line MS-DOS. At the time, the norm was that users interfaced with the computer by typing commands using the keyboard. Microsoft had to include a game called Reversi in Windows 1.0 to induct people into the ways of a mouse.

Windows 2 was released in December 1987. It built in the ability to minimise and maximise windows instead of zooming in and out. The control panel, Microsoft Word and Excel made their debut on windows.

In 1990, the first Windows that ran from a hard drive, Windows 3, replaced Windows 2. Windows 3 sent shockwaves to both Apple’s Macintosh and Commodore’s Amiga graphical user interface. The popular game Solitaire became part of Windows at this point.

Windows 3.1 was introduced in 1992 and made Windows a viable publishing platform for the first time. Windows 95 followed three years later. The Start button and Start Menu landed on Windows. This was popularized by an ad that utilized the Rolling Stones’ Start Me UP song.

The inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows 95 turned out to be the liquidator for both Netscape Navigator and NCSA Mosaic; two popular browsers of the time.

Windows 95 was improved in 1998 and became Windows 98. USB support was greatly improved at this point.

In 2000, Microsoft released two versions of Windows; February saw the release of Windows 2000. This was aimed at enterprise users who ran networks. In September, the company followed with Windows ME (Millennium Edition). Windows ME was Windows’ first dud. It had serious backward compatibility issues. No wonder it was replaced by Windows XP (experience) two years later.

Windows XP, if truth be told, is the best Windows version ever. Windows XP was based on the more robust Windows 2000 yet wore Windows ME regalia. Windows XP rejuvenated the start Menu and the Task bar and built in CD burning and CD autoplay.

You will notice that before this point, the life cycle of any Windows version was about two years. Windows XP broke that rule and extended it three fold. Thereafter, XP turned into a brat for Microsoft.

Windows XP remained resilient for 13 years. With no success, Microsoft tried to replace it with the much hated Windows Vista, the successful Windows 7 and abortive Windows 8. The company had to physically ‘murder’ XP by halting support to 430 million XP users in April 2014.

Today, Microsoft is offering Windows 10 free to all current Windows 7 and 8 users as the last nail on the Windows XP coffin. I still use Windows XP 14 years down the line.

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