Microsoft released Windows 1.0 on November 20th, 1985… which means Windows turns 30 today. It’s probably starting to think seriously about saving for retirement, realizing it can’t stay up as late as it used to, and noticing that it’s starting to put on a bit of weight even though its dietary habits haven’t changed much.
Windows has come a long way in 30 years. The first version provided a graphical user interface that ran on top of MS-DOS and allowed you to run a series of programs in windows. While it wasn’t the first operating system to use the concept of windows for multi-tasking, it was one of the first designed for use on a wide range of personal computers.
About a decade later Windows merged with DOS so that it was no longer a user interface running on top of an OS, but a complete OS in its own right. Sure, Window 95 was kind of crash-prone at times, but by the time Windows XP Service Pack 3 was released in 2004, Microsoft had an operating system that was so stable, many people are still using it to this day, even though there have been four or five major releases since then (depending on whether you count Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 as one release or two).
Windows clearly isn’t the only game in town. While it continues to dominate the PC space, there’s increasing competition from Google’s Chrome OS and Windows computers have long competed with Mac computers in both the home and business markets — and Apple actually beat Microsoft to market with a graphical user interface for its computers, although the earliest versions of Mac OS had very limited support for multitasking.
Various GNU/Linux-based operating systems have been offering free and open alternatives for over two decades, but while Linux has proven popular in the server and embedded device markets, desktop Linux users are dwarfed by the number of Windows and Mac OS X users these days.
I think the first version of Windows I ever installed was Windows 3.1. I’d been using MS-DOS on my computers up until then and while the GUI felt buggy and crash-prone, it opened my eyes to a whole new way to interact with computers. What was your first experience with Windows?