With the rapid development of computer technology, there are not many innovations that can withstand the passage of time. However, Microsoft’s Windows operating system is an exception to this rule and is by far the most popular operating system among ordinary users.
Last week, on 10 November, marked 40 years since Bill Gates announced Windows 1.0, the first version of the OS, which was intended to make computers more accessible to users through an intuitive interface.
Before the Windows operating system took over the world, Microsoft was releasing MS-DOS. Interestingly, Microsoft did not develop this OS on its own; it was the brainchild of Tim Paterson, an experienced programmer working for Seattle Computer Products (SCP) at the time.
On 27 July 1981, Microsoft acquired the rights to 64-DOS from SCP. Just a few days after acquiring the OS, the technology giant decided to rename it MS-DOS and began licensing the operating system to various companies.
A few months passed and Microsoft began to reap the benefits of the 64-DOS acquisition deal. While MS-DOS had its merits, it relied heavily on a text-based command-line interface that required the user to type commands to perform even the simplest tasks. This unintuitive user interface served as a serious barrier to computer novices, and Gates sought to create a workaround that made it easier for new users to access the PC.
Microsoft had stiff competition
The final push for Microsoft to work on an intuitive icon-based system was prompted by a demonstration by rival VisiCorp of its Visi On GUI system at COMDEX 1982. Although Visi On eventually died, its impressive demonstration was widely discussed in the developer community.
In response, Microsoft began work on a GUI project called Interface Manager. Less than a year later, Apple released the Lisa PC, which was one of the first personal computers with a graphical interface.
Microsoft had less and less time, so on 10 November 1983, Gates decided to announce the development of Windows 1.0. Microsoft originally planned to release Windows 1.0 by April 1984, but a number of design changes forced the tech giant to delay the product for another two years.
Windows 1.0 was met with mixed reviews
When Windows 1.0 was finally released on 20 November 1985, it wasn’t even a standalone operating system; it needed a shell called MS-DOS Executive.
Windows 1.0, which cost $99, supported multitasking and used a mouse for input, which was a brand new device at the time. It came with many applications, including Notepad, Paintbrush, Clock, Control Panel, and even the video game Reversi.
Unfortunately, this operating system required good computers and had performance issues, especially when trying to run multiple applications simultaneously. In addition, users back then were already used to keyboard control, so navigating with a mouse proved to be quite difficult.
It took many years before Windows got rid of DOS
Despite mixed reactions from the computer community, Microsoft began developing new versions of Windows. Windows 2 introduced the concepts of minimising and maximising application windows, and Windows 3 added support for DOS-based applications. For nearly 15 years, Microsoft continued to base its non-Windows NT systems on MS-DOS. The release of Windows XP in 2001 marked the company’s move away from MS-DOS, and it soon became a hit among PC users due to its attractive, functional, and easy-to-use user interface. Since then, Microsoft has released new versions of Windows every three years, and each update brings something new.
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