History of Computers: Microsoft Windows

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History of Computers: Microsoft Windows

Every time I turn on my Dell computer the screen pops up that says loading Windows XP software. My roommate turns on her computer and it says the same thing, as with most people on my floor. Today this seems to be the trend with most computers no matter what brand of hardware. This was not always the case though, Windows software is actually a fairly new technology that has grown much over the years and continues to develop and change even today. I wouldn know where I would be without my Windows software, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. This software is important in so many lives and companies today that it would be hard to imagine a time without it.

Windows software was not always as popular as it is today. It took a lot of work to develop this complex software. Let start by taking a brief look back on the major software before Windows, to fully understand why Microsoft Windows gradually became a total hit. Before Microsoft Windows there was MS-DOS. MS-DOS was a highly complicated operating system that often frustrated its users and was difficult to learn. Interaction with the operating system was by command line interference. Every command had to be typed in exactly right and the system was case sensitive (Campbell-Kelly 264). If anything was incorrect in the command line, then the whole command had to be retyped (264). Not only did this prove to be frustrating, but once you got the hang of this type of command typing, you would go use another program and the command set would be totally different. There were not standard interference commands and therefore every company made theirs different (265).

With the hope of inventing something better than MS-DOS, in 1985 Windows 1.0 was finally released after a preemptive marketing announcement three years earlier (Rojas 828). Windows 1.0 was not well received and was no where near the capabilities of the Macintosh software which offered clear graphics and fonts. Windows 1.0 still had many of the same type of problems encountered with MS-DOS (History of Microsoft Windows).

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Windows 1.0 was followed by Windows 2.0 released in 1987 (History of Microsoft Windows). This version proved to be slightly more popular with the addition of Excel and Word for Windows (History of Microsoft Windows). Yet Windows true success did not come around until the release of Windows 3.0.

The release of Windows 3.0 in 1990 proved to be probably the first major success of the software. It was very similar to the Macintosh by the way of looks and also had nicer fonts and disk management, along with overlapping windows (Rojas 828). Microsoft Windows 3.0 sold 10 million copies in the time that it was leading version on the market, which was about two years (History of Microsoft Windows). Microsoft created another similar version of Windows 3.0 and called it Windows 3.1 (History of Microsoft Windows). In 1993 Microsoft came out with what they called Windows NT (Rojas 829). The Windows NT, which eventually lead into Windows NT 3.1 turned out to be perfect of LAN servers, but didn work so well for personal or in home use (History of Microsoft Windows¡Ü).

Finally, in 1995 Windows 95 was released which evened the playing field between the Apple windowing technology and that of Microsoft (Rojas 829). The marketing debut of Windows 95 spared no expense for Bill Gates who used the song Start Me Up by the Rolling Stones as the theme for their advertising campaign (Rojas 829). Windows 95 had a 32 bit address space which was better than the 16-bit one that the previous Windows had run on (History of Microsoft Windows). It also had virtual memory which was a new concept (History of Microsoft Windows).

Windows 95 was followed by two other major successes for Microsoft, which were Windows 98 and Windows 2000. Windows 98 contained Microsoft own Internet Explorer, to compete with Netscape and the World Wide Web (Barnes 526). The Windows 2000 version had new security features that protected against viruses and intruders by having the user log in with a password (Rojas 829). The latest version today of Windows is Windows XP, but Microsoft won stop there. There is another Windows anticipated to be out in 2005 called Longhorn, which will only increase the technology of today (History of Microsoft Windows).

Microsoft has grown to be one of or even the largest software company out there, with its owner Bill Gates being considered the richest man in the world. But as you can see, the company has grown to be immense, but not without its failures like Windows 1.0. Windows software is every where in society today and even now comes on Macintosh computers. Life would not be the same without the technology of the Windows software. I couldn imagine booting up my computer and not seeing the loading Windows XP screen pop up. So much of my life and I am sure many others revolves around doing work on Microsoft Windows software. This paper is just one example, because without Microsoft Word for Windows, I would probably be using a basic word application such as notepad, which wouldn be fun.


Works Cited Page

Barnes, Susan B. Microsoft. Encyclopedia of Computers and Computer History.
2 vol. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2001.

Campbell-Kelly, Martin and William Aspray. Computer A History of the Information
Machine. New York: Basic Books, 1996.

History of Microsoft Windows. Wikipedia. 4 Sept. 2003.
6 Sept. 2003.

Rojas, Raul. Windows and Windows NT. Encyclopedia of Computers and Computer History. 2 vol. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2001.


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