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Windows Turns 30: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Happy Birthday, Microsoft, this week your baby turns 30! From Microsoft’s first aggressive attempt at a graphical interface in Windows 1 to Window 10’s unifying platforms across multiple devices, my how Windows has evolved over the years (and not all of it has been pretty)!

Windows 1

 Every story has a beginning, and for Windows this is it. Microsoft’s first true attempt at a 16-bit graphical user interface, the innovative Windows 1 was released in November 1985. Perhaps the most notable feature was that Windows 1 relied heavily on using a mouse before the mouse was a common computer input device. In an attempt to help consumer become familiar with using a mouse, Windows 1 included the game Reversi, which relied on mouse control rather than the standard keyboard controls.

Windows 2

Two years after the release of Windows 1, Microsoft’s Window 2 replaced its predecessor in December 1987. One of the new additions to the program including being able to minimize or maximise windows instead of the previous “iconizing” or “zooming.”

Windows 3.0

In 1990, Windows released their first version to require a hard drive. Windows 3.0 introduced the ability to run MS-DOS programmed in Windows. MS-DOS supported 256 colors, adding a vibrant, modern look to the interface. And let’s not forget that Windows 3.0 gave the virtual world Solitaire (most of us have been hooked ever since).

Windows 3.1

Windows 3.1 introduced TrueType fonts, making Windows the contending platform for publishing software. Microsoft also introduced yet another additive game to the world with Windows 3.1 Minesweeper.

Windows 95

Windows 95 was introduced in August 1995 and with it came the first ever (soon to become beloved) Start button and Start menu.  Windows 95 also introduced a 32-bit environment, with a taskbar that still focused on multitasking. MS-DOS still played a vital role in Windows 95, although this was the beginning of the end for little MS-DOS.

Windows 98

Introduced in June 1998, Windows 98 gave the world Outlook Express, Windows Address Book, Microsoft Chat and NetShow Player. However, NetShow Player was replaced by Windows Media Player 6.2 in Windows 98 second edition, released in 1999.

Windows ME/Windows 2000

Who among us does not have an awkward story from out teenaged years? Well, for Microsoft this would be Window ME. Released in September 2000, Windows ME is considered by many to be the low point in an otherwise spotless journey. Windows ME was the consumer-aimed operating system twinned with Windows 2000 business-orientated system Windows NT. Just like the rest of us, Windows survived their awkward teens, ultimately coming out on top, as Windows NT would later become the basis for Windows XP (and we all know how that turned out).

Windows XP

Regarded by many as one of the best versions of Windows ever released, Windows XP was released in October 2001, and with the world was introduced to Microsoft’s enterprise line and consumer line of operating systems all in one convenient platform. Windows XP Start menu and taskbar where completely optimized, giving birth to the familiar green start button, blue taskbar, and Vista wallpaper. Windows XP became one of the longest running Microsoft operating systems, seeing three massive updates over the next 13 years.

Windows Vista

Windows Vista was a sore disappointment for the lovers of Windows XP. Released in January 2007, Windows Vista updated the look and feel of Windows but brought with it several headaches for the user, to include hundreds of requests for app permissions under “User Account Control,” most users simply got in the habit of clicking “yes” to any request causing subsequent problems for users down the road.

Windows 7

Windows 7 was released in 2009 and was intended to fix all the problems users complained about with Windows Vista. Ultimately, Windows 7 was more stable to use, faster and became the operating system most users and business would upgrade to from Windows XP, skipping Vista entirely.

Windows 8/Windows 8.1

Released in October 2012, Windows 8 was by far the most radical overhaul of the Windows Interface. Much to the dismay of users around the world, Microsoft decided to ditch the Start button and Start menu, hoping to usher in a touch-friendly Start screen. Windows 8 was faster than previous versions of Windows and included support for the new, much faster USB 3.0 devices. Windows 8.1 was the free point release in 2013, offering updates and bringing back the Start button (let’s face it, we all love the Start button).

Windows 10

Three decades later we see the culmination of Microsoft’s years of efforts. Announced in 2014, and released in 2015 Windows 10 brought back the sorely missed Start menu. Designed to unify all Windows platforms, across multiple devices, the verdict is still out. However most would agree that Microsoft is back on the right track with Windows 10!

So Happy Birthday Windows! We can’t wait to see you evolve over the next 30 years. Just please don’t take away our Start button or Start menu. Some things are simply sacred and deserve to stand the test of time.

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