Windows turns 35, a look back at a symbol of consumer computing

Windows is the cornerstone of consumer computing: a central pillar having been laid thirty-five years ago, on November 20, 1985, by a young company called Microsoft. Today, hundreds of millions of homes are equipped with some version of the operating system. Return to a symbol.

Windows 2.0 Bill Gates

It is therefore the November 20, 1985 that the worthy successor of the no less famous MS-DOS made its appearance. Causing a real surge within the IT community then being reduced to a handful of privileged, Windows will mark the beginning of a new era initiating the development and expansion of a universe that still continues to expand today. .

Windows 1.0, a good first in line, has therefore produced multiple versions before arriving at the current and final Windows 10 edition. If in any case, the family link is no longer very easy to distinguish, the clues are often hidden in details: scroll bars, drop-down menus, icons, dialog boxes not to mention MSPaint or WordPad software.

Elements which are an integral part of the IT landscape and which, if absent from an interface, could today provoke indignation and incomprehension. But in the past, before Windows 1.0, you had to do without. It was also necessary do without a mouse and focus on command lines.

Now point and click would become the norm. With this new navigation device, Apple with its Macintosh and Microsoft have revolutionized the approach to computing. In this year 1985, three major players were then in the spotlight: IBM, Apple and Microsoft, henceforth the three main competitors in the world of mass computing.

Windows 1.0, the revolution is underway

Bill Gates
Bill Gates and the first edition of Windows 1.0

To run Windows 1.0, your computer required the presence of two floppy drives, 256 KB of memory and a graphics card. If your use of the computer went beyond word processing and involved managing other software, then you needed a hard drive and 512KB of memory. Criteria that make you smile today, these capacities not really enough to make anything run.

While Apple was designing graphical interfaces specially dedicated to the use of the mouse, Microsoft has gradually focused on hardware and software development. In the end, Microsoft gradually became a company specializing in software design where IBM focused on PC architecture. The Redmond company has always makes sure that its OS is the most free and flexible possible, allowing developers and other competitors to bring in compatible software.

Windows 1.0 startup

Gradually, PC manufacturers began to work around the Microsoft operating system just like the big software development companies. By providing software to hardware producers, Microsoft has over time ensured a very large exchange platform, exchanges still giving you access to new iterations of Windows.

Hegemonic system

For thirty years, Windows dominates consumer computing and with this new element installed in homes around the world, two schools were formed: Mac sympathizers and pro-PCs. In terms of numbers, it is Windows that wins in terms of representation on the surface of the globe, the deployment of Windows 10 extending visibly. The operating system has also reached one billion workstations installed in less than 5 years, a record for Microsoft.

In the 1980s, the clashes between the two giants were done through advertising campaigns a bit crazy, featuring the very (too?) Energetic Steve Ballmer. Another one that probably had to fuel up with some of the most popular illicit drugs at the time, judge for yourself.

In any case, Microsoft has always continued to follow this route of adaptability, making it compatible on different media, but also by revisiting its approach to use, whether family or professional. But it’s probably the arrival of Windows 95 which enabled the operating system to be adopted by the general public. If Microsoft then experienced a small disappointment with Windows ME (Millenium Edition), the editor of Redmond then caught up with Windows XP: released in 2001, the operating system won all the votes among users. So much so that Microsoft provided its support until 2014. In the meantime, Windows 7 was also released, which also conquered a very large audience. The operating system continues to be used by nearly 25% of Windows users, while Microsoft stopped all support for it in early 2020.

The next step for the firm is the dematerialized migration to the Cloud, as Google plans to do as well. A next phase which promises to be historic and critical for the future of the company.

Windows history in pictures

Windows 1.0
Windows 1.0: mouse support, dedicated graphical interface, software
Windows 2.0
Windows 2.0 (1987): 16-bit evolution including for the first time Word and Excel
windows 3.0
Windows 3.0 (1990): revisited interface, file and program managers. Update 3.1 celebrates the arrival of the Minesweeper
Windows 3.5
Windows NT 3.5 (1994): great advance of the OS in the professional environment, improvement of security and data sharing
Windows 95
Windows 95 (1995): Iconic version of a generation. A musical theme composed by Brian Eno, an advertisement with a Rolling Stones background. A first step towards 32-bits, a Start menu and the arrival of Internet Explorer.
Windows 98
Windows 98 (1998): following the success of Win95, it provides better hardware management, improves performance. Outlook, NetMeeting etc. An Internet-focused version.
Windows Me
Windows Me (2000): slack for the new millennium. This multimedia-centric version was heavily criticized for its bugs
Windows 2000
Windows 2000: Designed for desktops, it is based on Windows NT, provides new protections, DLL cache, plug-and-play …
Windows XP
Windows XP (2001): Combination of professional and family environment, XP remains one of the most memorable versions even today
Windows Vista
Windows Vista (2007): 6 years of development for a version that will not win the votes.
Windows 7
Windows 7 (2009): It managed to make Vista forget and is still one of the most popular versions today.
Windows 8
Windows 8 (2012): General cleaning interface level, disappearance of the Start menu. Open to tablets and mobiles. A upheaval for many.
Windows RT
Windows RT (2012): in parallel to Windows 8, Microsoft is releasing a light version of Windows 8, but 100% dependent on the store. The system has failed and will have lived for just two years.
Windows 10
Windows 10 (2015): return to the start menu. Arrival of Cortana, Microsoft Edge, Xbox One streaming to PC. The OS becomes a service more than a software.
Windows 10
Windows 10 (2020): the system adopts dark mode, the Settings module tends to replace the Control Panel, Cortana is becoming more and more discreet.

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