Evolution of Windows – From DOS to Windows 10: Part 1

A lot of us are currently running Windows 10 on our PCs. Since it was released in 2015, Windows 10 has proved a good OS for not just PCs but IoT devices, tablets, and even phones despite the death of Windows 10 Mobile last month. We all should be running Windows 10 at the moment because of Windows 7’s end of life last month, or you should install Linux instead if you want a secure OS for free or your old PC is incapable of running Windows 10. However, Windows wasn’t always the metro-style OS it is now. Back in 1985, Windows 1.0 was released and it looked very different from Windows 10. It ran on top of MS-DOS, which was Microsoft’s CLI-based operating system which is known for its retro gaming support.

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Windows 1.0, released in 1985

Windows 1.0 ran on top of DOS and acted as a DOS application but also an extension. If you attempted to run a Windows-only game in DOS it would not work, but running Windows and then running the game would work. It acted as a compatibility layer for DOS.

Windows 1.0 was followed by 2.0, which was very similar to its predecessor but added overlapping windows and 16-bit VGA graphics. Apple took Microsoft to court, accusing them of stealing the ‘look and feel’ of Mac OS, but Apple lost the case. However, Windows 2.0 did not change much and the first version of Windows to include major noticeable changes would be 3.0.

Windows 3.0 revamped the user interface and introduced icons for programs, which Windows 2.0 and 1.0 did not have and instead just had the file names. A solitare program was also added as well as an improved paintbrush program. Windows 3.1 was later released as an upgrade, adding True Type font support and coloured screen savers, and a new startup screen.

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Windows 3.0 had significant GUI improvements over 2.0

Next came Windows 95. Windows 95 is well known not only for being nostalgic but for significantly changing Windows. It introduced dial-up internet, the start menu, and was the first version of Windows to not be ran as an application on top of MS-DOS. It was its own OS. As 32-bit computers were introduced, Windows 95 added support for 32-bit applications. The right click menu, which brought up a menu of options when right click is pressed such as copy, cut, and paste was introduced as well.

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Windows 95 introduced the taskbar and start menu

One year later came Windows NT 4.0. NT 4 was aimed more at businesses rather than home use. It had Internet Explorer preloaded with it but most other changes were aimed at server and business use.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post. In part 2 of the Windows evolution trilogy I will be looking at Windows 98 up until 7, a big leap in Windows history.

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