A History of Microsoft Windows – Timeline

7 Comments

  1. Thanks for taking us down the memory lane. I remember using WIndows 1 to be installed with 1 5.5″ Floppy drive.

  2. I’m 57, and date — computer industry-wise, at least — back to the desktop PC industry as it existed back in the 1970s… which means CP/M, then Apple I and II; then the IBM PC and PC-DOS, then Microsoft’s MS-DOS…

    …and somewhere in there I screwed around a bit in the mini- and mainframe computer world, too. So I definitely remember LOOOONNNNGGG before Windows; as well as every single moment of Windows, since. Every single one!

    So I can say, with authority, that there is one error, and one slight leaving-out of something in this otherwise excellent piece!

    First, the leaving-out: Remember that there were actually two versions of Win98, the second being SE. And, technically, there was kinda’ the same thing with Win95, but it was just less official.

    Second, the error: Windows 98 was *NOT* the last FAT-32, MS-DOS-based version. Windows ME was. Windows ME was nothing more than Windows 98, but with Windows 2000-like graphics and icons. Of course that’s an oversimplification, but it pretty much captures the essence of it. ME was entirely based on the 98 kernel. It was the last version of Windows before all versions became NTFS-based.

    It’s confusing, I know, because Microsoft, from the outset of Windows 9x, tried, in how talk about Windows in a way that blurred the line between Windows and DOS, calling Windows an “operating system,” when, in fact, all versions of Windows prior to NTFS-based NT — including ME — were nothing more than graphical user interfaces sitting atop FAT-based MS-DOS… and no amount of Microsoft’s wishing, either then or now, changes that. What made it a little more confusing in ME’s case was how MS-DOS was… well… the word “hidden” is too much; but there’s no question that Microsoft thought it could get away, with ME, with just pretending that DOS didn’t exist; that ME, alas, really was an operating system… and that was just bunk.

    Only with the advent of NTFS-based Windows NT did Windows, itself, finally become a operating system, in its own right; and with that came that the command line only actually approximated — faked, in effect — the look and feel of the old FAT-based MS-DOS C:: prompt.

    The easiest way to think of Windows 2000 was that it was nothing more than Windows NT, but with fancy-dancy Windows ME-like graphics and icons to spruce it up a bit. One thing Win2K had, though, that was REALLY nice, was a TCP/IP stack straight from Sun Microsystems… the only time Microsoft ever did anything like that, thereby making it the best one in any version of Windows, ever! Too bad Microsoft decided it didn’t want to pay Sun Microsystems a little tiny piece of every copy of Windows it sold, and went back to the glitchy-to-this-day Microsoft TCP/IP stack with all subsequent version. Ugh. The dark and dirty little secret of Windows 2000 was that Microsoft realized its mistake, and succumbed to its own greed, so soon after Win2K’s release that that, in reality, is why Win2K lasted so short a time. It was like a flash in the pan… here, today; gone, tomorrow. The truth is that it was originally SUPPOSED to be what XP ended-up being; but Microsoft killed it, in effect, so it could stop paying Sun and get XP out.

    Microsoft basically rushed Vista onto and off the market, too, if you think about it; and one can argue that all of Vista’s service packs were really just to finally get Win7 where they wanted it so that THAT could become the new flagship to finally allow Microsoft to retire XP.

    Truth be known, Windows XP was the first truly new and different version of Windows since Windows NT, and Windows 95 before it, and Windows 1.0 before that. In fact, those are the real “new and different” demarcation points…

    1) Windows 1.0 (of which 2.0, 3.1 and 4.0 are family members)
    2) Windows 95 (of which Win98 and WinME are family membes)
    3) Windows NT (of which Win2K is a family member)
    4) Windows XP (truly unique among Windows versions)

    …followed, of course by Vista (of which Win7 is a family member… most, in fact, think of Win7 as little more than Vista, but finally fixed); and then, now, finally, Windows 8 and 8.1, which is an animal unto itself… unique, like WinXP.

    And so the complete list of “new and different” demarcation points is:

    1) Windows 1.0 (of which 2.0, 3.1 and 4.0 are family members)
    2) Windows 95 (of which Win98 and WinME are family membes)
    3) Windows NT (of which Win2K is a family member)
    4) Windows XP (truly unique among Windows versions)
    5) Windows Vista (of which Win7 is a family member)
    6) Windows 8 (and its, in effect, service pack Win8.1)

    That’s really the way to think of it.

    All versions described it items “1)” and “2)” above are FAT, and/or FAT-16, and/or FAT-32 based; and all versions described in item “3)” and onward are NTFS-based.

    Hope that helps!

    __________________________________
    Gregg L. DesElms
    Napa, California USA
    gregg at greggdeselms dot com

    Veritas nihil veretur nisi abscondi.
    Veritas nimium altercando amittitur.

  3. ADDENDUM

    Regarding Win8, I also beg to differ with “[t]he OS replaces the more traditional Microsoft Windows OS look and feel with a new “Modern Interface” consisting of flat tiles that first debuted in the Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system.”

    That’s actually not exactly accurate. What’s accurate is that Win8 contains almost exactly the same basic interface as Win7, sans (more accurately, crippled by the absence of) the “Start” button (which button even Win8.1 didn’t completely properly replace).

    However, what Win8 *ALSO* has, which no previous Windows version had, is an alternative interface — actually, the default interface… that is, until Win8.1 allowed the user to easily change it, and Win8 allowed the user to more difficultly change it — which caters to the world of touch screen (primarily mobile) devices like tablets and phones.

    That’s really the truth of it. Saying it any other way is playing right into Microsoft’s classic manipulations of truth for purely marketing purposes… just as it did with ME; and just as it did with Win9x before it, whenever it tried to call them “operating systems,” when, in fact, MS-DOS was the operating system, and Win9x and ME were but graphical user interfaces (GUI) sitting atop.

    It’s important that we give Microsoft its due; but it’s even MORE important that we call it — and its disciples — on it’s trying to pull the wool over our eyes. Remember that Microsoft is the same company which once insisted that the Internet’s Worldwide Web was just a passing fad, and so made no browser for it, leaving, initially, Netscape to be pretty much all there was at first; and then when Microsoft finally realized how desperately wrong it was, it came-out with Internet Explorer; but in its arrogance, thought that it could make-up its own Internet standards in it.

    Microsoft has always been a bad-boy bully, and it’s important that that fact is never lost to history; and it’s eye-witnesses like me who are just the people to help us all never forget.

    It’s one of being old’s few advantages.

    __________________________________
    Gregg L. DesElms
    Napa, California USA
    gregg at greggdeselms dot com

    Veritas nihil veretur nisi abscondi.
    Veritas nimium altercando amittitur.

  4. Actually, Compuguru4u, they were 5.25-inches in size. But they were, indeed, “floppy”… the last disks (actually “diskettes”), in fact, that were truly “floppy.” The later 3. 5-inch ones were actually quite firm… at least on the outside.

    Were you around to see the even LARGER truly floppy ones BEFORE the 5.25-inch ones; the ones commonly used in DEC and other machines? Yikes! I remember working for Automatic Data Processing (ADP) Dealer Services Division, and installing some of the first “factory communication systems” into GM dealerships using the old…

    DEC PDT-11
    SEE | http://bit.ly/1gMsTZ1

    …which, as you can see, was almost bigger than today’s laser printers. Those are 8-inch floppy (truly floppy) diskette drives you see, there, with the red handles on the front.

    Ahhh…. THOSE were the days, eh?

    Yikes! [grin]

    __________________________________
    Gregg L. DesElms
    Napa, California USA
    gregg at greggdeselms dot com

    Veritas nihil veretur nisi abscondi.
    Veritas nimium altercando amittitur.

  5. Lets see,

    Windows 2000 -> No visual effect, no non sense pure computing for work.
    Windows XP -> 500MB, CD based installation had everything we needed, work play, what ever

    Windows Vista / 7 -> almost 4gigs, still you can have both world of simple no non sense computing and work.

    Windows 8 / 8.1 -> Man, its all play play play.. why with 4 gigs of OS had to omit classic computing feels and looks ?? I mean with even 4 gigs of space, you cant keep the classic windows feel, basic start menu and all that??

    Seriously, I find it easy now a days to teach Ubuntu compare to Windows 8 as Xp / or 7 had that classic Windows feel and was much easy to explain to new users compare to Windows 8..

    ahh…

    Surely things are going more complicated and now a days for basic work and Internet, ubuntu feels easy.. lol..

  6. Any one remember the day that xp came out! One of the best operating systems around and will always be! Windows 8.1 was ok but not the best but windows 10 looks like the windows 7 it should have been

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