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The Evolution of Windows

Windows has undergone an extensive transformation since its launch back in 1985. Each software update has provided a unique insight into both the brand and where consumer tech is heading.

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The History of Windows

This timeline of events shows how Windows has evolved from launch to the present day.

1985: Windows 1.0 – November 1985 saw the launch of Windows 1.0, the first user interface from the company. Whilst it was only 16-bit and relied on command-line input in MS-DOS, this is where it all began and consumers got their first glimpse of the future. The game Reversi was added to place emphasis on the importance of mouse control and it came with applications like Paint, Notepad, Calculator, a calendar and a clock.

1987: Windows 2.0 – The launch of Windows 2.0 in December 1987 brought about the addition of better graphics, expanded memory, desktop icons and overlap windows. This allowed developers to write programmes and by 1988 computers were becoming common in offices across the world. As they became more popular and technology evolved, Microsoft had to act quickly to keep the development of Windows in pace with the market.

1990: Windows 3.0 – Launched in May 1990, with an update in 1992, this was a huge success and sold two million copies in the first two years. This version offered improved performances, advancements in graphics, better icons, a faster processor, and new functionality like File, Print and Program Manager. Windows started to become increasingly used at home as well as in the workplace.

1995: Windows 95 – The launch of Windows 95 sparked a software revolution that went on to shape the next 20 years of computing technology. This is when Windows as we know it was born. The task bar, Start Menu and Windows Explorer all made their first appearances, and Internet Explorer brought built-in internet support to the world. This could be considered as the point when the personal computer came of age. This huge leap put Windows at the forefront of the market. With the launch of Windows 95, Microsoft slowly but surely took back the market share from their rivals.

1998: Windows 98 – Hardware made easy. “Works better, plays better.” This was the first consumer-centric update from the company and allowed quicker opening and closing of programmes and better support for reading DVD discs and USB devices like fax machines, keyboards and mice. By 1998, Microsoft was the biggest company in the world, with a value of $613 billion.

2001: Windows XP – Standing for ‘experience’, Windows XP brought about a dramatic change in the look of the software and focused primarily on usability. One of the best-selling products on the market, it offered updated security to deal with hackers and viruses, and was available in either the Professional or Home Edition.

2007: Windows Vista – Known as the most secure operating system of all time, Vista offered added security, allowed users to move easily between open windows and brought digital media to the masses with the ability to watch TV, view photos and edit videos.

2009: Windows 7 – With laptops now the dish of the day, Microsoft released the famously user-friendly Windows 7 with its reduced hardware requirements. The new software boasted an improved interface, a powerful task bar and a responsive design that provided the power and speed that Vista lacked at times.

2012: Windows Store introduced, Windows 8 launched –Microsoft launched the Windows Store, which gave customers access to 200,000 apps. Windows 8 was also launched with a brand new interface which left some consumers bewildered.

2015: Windows 10 launched – With increased touch compatibility, Windows 10 is slick and easy to use on any device. The addition of Cortana allows for a smart digital assistant and the Start Menu is more powerful than ever.

Windows has revolutionised computing. The battle of the tech giants will continue, but who will emerge triumphant? Only time will tell.

What’s next for Windows?

Windows 10 has broken new ground and will no doubt lead to a larger separation between laptops and tablets. The 2-in-1 devices will have their moment of glory but will soon become yet another passing fad. We wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft launched a version of Windows designed only for tablets. With the lessons learnt over the years Windows has the potential to take back the market share. But as to how long they will retain it, only time will tell.

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