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.

Got an old Windows PC incapable of upgrading to Windows 10? Never fear, Linux is here!

If you pay attention to tech news and security notices, you’ll know Microsoft have ended support for Windows 7, Vista, and XP by now. Microsoft recommend that you buy a new PC preinstalled with it or upgrade it. But what if your PC doesn’t meet the hardware requirements? How can you stay secure without upgrading to Windows 10?

This is where Linux comes in handy. Linux is a free open source kernel used in open source OSes which could run on a computer from 2004 if you wanted. Sure, some distributions of Linux are heavier in terms of requirements than others, but lightweight OSes like Debian and Lubuntu can help you get more out of your old PC.

You’ll need at least a 4GB USB stick or fairly large (4GB+) CD-R or DVD-R to flash the installer of your desired distribution to. If going with the second option, your PC will need a DVD or CD drive. The CD/DVD-R must not have been written to before as these types of discs are designed only to be written to once.

Start by visiting your chosen distribution’s website and finding the Downloads page where you may be presented with two options: 64-bit and 32-bit. Here’s the difference. A 64-bit OS can work with more RAM and use a 64-bit CPU to its full capability but a 64-bit OS will not work with a 32-bit PC. A 32-bit OS, if installed onto a 64-bit PC, will only work with up to 4GB RAM and won’t make full use of the CPU but will work on a 32-bit CPU. You want to make sure you’re choosing the right ISO. Find out your computer model number either from the box it came in or the bottom of the computer and search it up on a specs website. Find the CPU/processor on the website and search it up. There it will say whether the CPU is 64-bit or 32-bit. Some specs websites say this in the specifications. Once you’ve found out, download the correct ISO. It’s best to choose an LTS release if using an Ubuntu flavour. LTS stands for long term support and means the OS will be supported for a number of years. Lots of Ubuntu variants stopped supporting 32-bit after April 2018’s LTS release, the most recent one, nicknamed ‘Bionic Beaver’ so on a 32-bit PC if you want to download Ubuntu you may find you HAVE to run LTS.

Insert the USB drive or disc into your PC and download the program Rufus from its official website.  Set it up, then open it. You will get a screen looking like this:

[rufus screenshot]

For Device, choose the drive letter associated with your disc or USB stick. For Boot selection, select the ISO from Downloads. Set target system to BIOS or UEFI and then click start.

Once finished, turn off your computer. As in shutdown. Then find your PC’s user manual and find out the key combination to enter the BIOS. It will usually have to be pressed as soon as your PC’s manufacturer logo (eg, Lenovo) pops up. You may have to be very precise whilst doing this. The BIOS will load, there will usually be the functions of keys for the BIOS at the bottom, navigate to boot and select a name which sounds similar to your USB stick or CD/DVD and select it/move it to the top. Then exit saving changes.

Your PC will reboot into the installer. If running Ubuntu or a Debian live image, select ‘Try without installing’ to get a little feel of the OS before installing. Nothing during your tryout session will be preserved, but if you like it, click install on the desktop.

Go through the setup wizard which will be user friendly. Once finished, remove the CD/DVD/USB, and then reboot.

You should be rebooted into a menu which gives you OS options. ‘Windows’, or ‘Windows Boot Manager’ is Windows. When installing Linux, always keep Windows instead of erasing because you might need it for some programs. The name of your Linux distribution will boot you into your Linux distribution. Use the top and bottom arrows to navigate the menu. This menu is called GRUB and it comes with almost all Linux distributions. ‘System Setup’ allows quick entry into the BIOS, so you won’t have to worry about key combinations again.

Enjoy Linux! There are many more aspects to it than at first sight and there’s a big community out there to help you with your problems. Enjoy!

-Chas 😎

Yesterday 13 years ago, Microsoft released Windows Vista

On the 30th January 2007, Microsoft released Windows Vista. This version of Windows included a major overhaul to the system UI but also was very buggy which is why Windows 7 was released two years later which was much more stable. Windows Vista was NOT a free upgrade, unlike Windows 10 which was free for Windows 7 and 8 users for a year.

Windows Vista was the most buggy version of Windows since Windows ME. Windows ME and 2000 were released to celebrate the new millennium, explaining Windows 2000’s name, but Windows 2000 was aimed more at the workplace whilst Windows ME was aimed more at home users. Windows 2000 was a great version of Windows and very stable, whilst Windows ME… not so much.

Windows Vista support ended almost three years ago, meaning Vista users will not receive any security updates, leaving it open to potential vulnerabilities. Google Chrome dropped support for it too alongside Windows XP. Windows 7 support has recently came to an end too, so it’s recommended to upgrade to Windows 10 or buy a new PC with the OS preinstalled if you’re still running the old OS.

Windows 7 – you can use it until 2020

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Windows 7 was released in 2009 and was a major release of Microsoft Windows. Windows 10 is now the current version of Windows, but 7 is still popular.

Windows XP has ended support and lots of Windows XP PCs are compatible with Windows 7. You can use this OS until 2020 if you need support, and Windows 7 is definitly a good update from XP.