Microsoft Windows evolution: The well-known to all of us operating system Windows counts over three decades of life. He did it his maiden appearance in 1985 and has since been released in various editions. With each new release, Microsoft adds new features, refreshes the look, and improves the overall user experience - that, at least, is its goal.
But what made each version stand out? How many versions are there, and how popular have they been? In this article, we will look at the most basic versions of the popular operating system - from Windows 1.0 to Windows 11 - underlining the characteristics of each of them.
Windows 1.0 (1985)
On November 20, 1985, Microsoft has released first edition of the operating system, the Window 1.0. While originally the code name was «Interface Manager», finally the name prevailed "Windows", because it better described the computer frames or "windows" that are the key component of the system.
Windows 1.0 was Microsoft's first graphical operating system, but so was Windows start of litigation with Apple. Microsoft partnered with Apple in 1984 to develop applications for the Apple Macintosh. The Macintosh 128k was the first mass-produced computer to come with an operating system with graphical user interface, icons, and windows. So when Microsoft introduced its own operating system - Windows 1.0 - with similar features, lawyers had a say. It was these legal issues that prevented Bill Gates from incorporating features such as window overlay and recycle bin. However, Windows 1.0 provided an unprecedented experience for IBM compatible PC users, who no longer needed to be limited to the command line. Windows 1.0 was operated primarily with the mouse, an input device that was not very common. So Microsoft included the Reversi game to make it easier for users to get used to.
No one could have imagined that today we would need guides on how to use Windows without a mouse.
Negatives: Almost zero networking and limited command-line command set.
Skeptics called the then new operating system vaporware (non-existent product).
Windows 2.0 (1987)
Two years later the release of Windows 1.0 and specifically on 9 December 1987, Microsoft released the Window 2.0, a version that did not have the same success with the first (1.0), due to software and hardware limitations. Windows 2.0 came with desktop icons and expanded memory. Thanks to the improved graphics support, the user could overlay windows, control the layout of the screen and use keyboard shortcuts to speed up the work. Another revolutionary feature of Windows 2.0 was the introduction of the Control Panel, or Control Panel. There, users found all the basic system settings. Word and Excel also made their debut, along with Aldus PageMaker for Windows, which until then was only available on Mac. Some software developers have begun to develop their first Windows-based programs for this version.
In 1988, Microsoft became the largest - by sales - software provider. The same year the Apple testified treatment against Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard, blaming Windows 2.0 for copyright infringement against the Apple GUI. However, Apple's appeal to the US Supreme Court turned down.
Windows 3.0 (1990)
On 22 May 1990, Microsoft announced the release of Window 3.0 which were soon followed by Window 3.1 This makes it a perfect choice for people with diabetes and for those who want to lose weight or follow a balanced diet. 1992. Within the first two years, they sold out 10 million copies both versions together, making Windows the most widely used operating system to date. This great success led Microsoft to review its plans. The Windows operating system now had significantly improved performance, better memory management, advanced 16-color graphics and enhanced icons, and came pre-installed on PCs. Windows software installation was done from floppy disks, which were purchased in large packages and accompanied by heavy instruction manuals. With Windows 3.0, Microsoft introduced a new "File Manager", a "Program Manager" and a "Print Manager". Windows was used more and more at work and at home and now included games such as Solitaire, Cups and Minesweeper.
Negatively: Lack of multimedia and network features.
Windows 95 (1995)
On August 15, 1995, Microsoft has released the Window 95, selling 7 million copies within the first five weeks. Windows 95 was one from the largest stations in the history of Windows. It was the release of a Microsoft product with more advertising. The TV commercials featured the Rolling Stones to sing "Start Me Up", while images of the new "Start" button were displayed. The press release started with simple words: "He is here". It's the age of fax / modems, email, the new electronic world, stunning multimedia games and educational software. Windows 95 was written in 32-bit, continued to support application execution MS-DOS and had built-in support Internet bringing us Internet Explorer, the ability to connect to a network by telephone and new Placement and Immediate Operation features that facilitated the installation of hardware and software.
By the time Windows 95 was released, previous Windows and MS-DOS operating systems were running on about 80% of computers worldwide. Windows 95 was the upgrade of these operating systems. They were available in 12 languages. In Windows 95, the Start menu, taskbar, the minimize, maximize, and close buttons in each window appeared for the first time. At the same time, for the first time we saw the "plug-n-play", which allows the identification of a device with its connection, without the installation of separate drivers. The Windows 95 operating system had many problems and crashed constantly, resulting in birth of operating system updates. They clearly did not work as they do today, but it was an important step forward.
Windows 98 (1998) - The Windοws evolving for work and leisure
The Windows 98 were released on 25 June 1998, recommending the first version of Windows designed especially for consumers. Computers were widely used at work and at home, and Internet cafes appeared where connectivity was possible. Windows 98 was described as an operating system with better performance and improved performance. Windows 98 was essentially one major upgrade of 95, and allowed larger partitions, thanks to the new FAT32 file system. With Windows 98, the user could find information more easily on the computer, but also on the Internet. Among other things, they supported a number of new technology such as AGP, MMX, USB, DVD, and ACPI. Internet Explorer was now part of the operating system, along with Outlook Express, Windows Address Book and Microsoft Chat.
Windows 98 also included NetShow Player, which was replaced by Windows Media Player 6.2 in the second version of the operating system in 1999. Updated Windows Explorer, with the addition of navigation buttons, and the introduction of the address bar. For the first time we saw Windows Update, which notifies the user that there are updates for the operating system. Microsoft has also introduced the Windows Driver Model that allows you to create drivers that are compatible with future versions of Windows. Another feature introduced for the first time was the quick start bar, which allowed the user to run programs without having to go to the Start menu or search the desktop.
Negatively: Adjustment was accurate to system performance.
Windows 2000 (2000)
The Windows 2000 were released on 17 February 2000, and was a new version of Windows in the line of NT, aiming at professionals and businesses. Despite their futuristic name, the real version was Window 5.0, following NT 4.0. Among other things, Windows 2000 had advanced features networking, device sharing, and other features useful in a corporate environment. Their most important element was the implementation, for the first time, of automatic updates via the Internet and the support of hibernation. In the end, they were the foundation on which Windows XP was built.
Negatively: Windows 2000 was a reliable operating system if one had applications that could run on it, although security levels sometimes made it difficult to run some programs.
Windows ME (2000)
Designed for use in home computers, The Windows Millennium Edition, or Windows ME released on September 14, 2000 as an updated version of Windows 98. Provided several improvements in music, video and home networking modes as well as reliability, compared to previous versions. Among the new appearances was System Restore, a feature that can reset the computer software to a date or time earlier than the one at which the problem occurred. They came with built-in Internet Explorer 5.5, Windows Media player, while we saw Movie Maker for the first time. MovieMaker provides users with tools for digitally editing, storing and sharing home videos. And with Microsoft Windows Media Player 7 technologies, the user has the ability to locate, organize and play digital media.
However, this particular Windows operating system was so misspelledWhich failed even in its installation. Many even said that ME did not mean Millennium Edition but Mistake Edition. Nevertheless, he had some good. It was the latest Microsoft operating system based on MS-DOS, and it made us appreciate the wait until the release of XP.
Windows XP (2001)
The Windows XP were released on 25 October 2001 and for many, it was the most successful Windows operating system. In Windows XP, Microsoft has integrated NT technology with the user-friendly interface of other versions of its operating system. Based on the kernel of Windows 2000, XP was a powerful operating system, with a completely updated user interface and several new features. Their real version was Windows 5.1. Now plug-n-play worked better than ever, Windows had a built-in wireless management tool, and had its own optical disc burning tool.
We also first saw ClearType, which was designed to improve the reading of text on LCD screens. Among other things, there was automatic removal of removable media (such as CDs and USB Flash drives), automatic updates, and recovery tools. At the same time, in 2005 we saw 64-bit versions of XP, with Windows XP 64-bit Edition, and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition. There was a version for Tablet PC, but until the release of the iPad, no one paid attention to the early tablets. Windows XP was Microsoft's longest-running operating system, with three Service Packs while receiving updates until 2014, ie 13 years after its release.
Negatively: Despite the security improvement, it was prone to malware as it had many vulnerabilities.
Windows Vista (2007)
The Windows Vista were released on 30 January of 2007, constituting the second worst Windows operating system. They had the brand new Windows 6.0 kernel, and had a completely refreshed interface, glass face, transparent elements and generally an appearance designed to impress.
But they came with me countless incompatibility problems, security gaps and especially a huge thirst for system resources. The widget bar itself required half a GB of RAM when opened, without even loading a widget. By the way, they brought us version 11 of Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer 7, the new Windows DVD Maker, Photo Gallery, and the brand new anti-spyware tool, Windows Defender. Also in Windows Vista we saw the User Account Control or UAC, which helped in user security. It worked in the background, and for almost anything users did, it first asked for their permission, annoying them indefinitely.
Windows Vista they were not commercially successful, while several users remained in Windows XP. However, several operating problems were fixed with "Service Pack 1" which came out just 14 months after its release. also, Their price was high, while the size of the minimization, maximization and closing buttons was reduced, which made it difficult for older people or those with vision problems.
Windows 7 (2009)
The Windows 7 were released on 22 October 2009, having a similar interface to Vista, but lighter in both eye and system requirements. Its goal Micrsoft was to increase the performance of Windows, and it succeeded. Windows 7 was the same as Vista, but more stable, more secure, faster, and more compatible. They also supported virtual optical discs in ISO format, had a new enhanced version of Windows Media Center, and a new Aero Snap that allowed windows to be placed on the sides of the screen. Many users have replaced XP with Windows 7.
Negatively: Higher hardware requirements than Windows XP. There was no "In Place" upgrade option from Windows XP to Windows 7.
Windows 8 (2012)
Aiming at the future, Microsoft redesigned its operating system in appearance, although the kernel was only one step above Windows 7, in version 6.2. The Windows 8 borrowed the Windows Mobile 7 Metro UI, and were designed to be compatible with touch screens. They were released on 26 October 2012, and instead of the classic start menu, they had the "Start Screen". Here users found tiles that were either program shortcuts or live tiles that showed information. Windows 8 was clearly faster than its predecessors. It also supported the fastest USB 3.0 devices without the need for a separate driver installation as in previous Windows. In the new Windows Store users would find specially designed applications that run in full screen. However, users could still install conventional applications.
The radical change in the Microsoft operating system not everyone liked it. The company tried to balance the situation somewhere between touch screens and traditional use. Unfortunately, it did not go so well. Overall, Windows 8 introduced improvements in several areas. However, it was not enough for users to quit Windows 7.
Negatively: Lack of specific icon classification, inconvenient interface for those who had laptops or other devices that require the use of a mouse. Metro and Aero User Interface Overlay. Metro Interface worked well on tablets, but User Interface was not very compatible on desktop.
Windows 10 (2015)
The Windows 10, which were released on July 29, 2015, have divided users as few versions of Windows. At first glance, this was a clearly improved version, especially after the failed design innovations of Windows 8 / 8.1. In Windows 10, the "Start" menu has returned significantly improved, and with more features. They have better compatibility with new devices and integrate DirectX 12 for games. Microsoft has also integrated the Microsoft Edge browser, the successor to Internet Explorer. At the same time, the company gave the option to configure the operating system for use on tablets, adapting the environment for use mainly with touch screens. The goal was for the user to have a seamless user experience between PC, tablet, and smartphone with Windows Phone. Regardless of whether it finally Windows Phone failed miserably and has virtually disappeared from the market.
Microsoft, wanting to promote Windows 10 as much as possible, allowed it free upgrade from Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.
Nevertheless, along with the numerous positives, came quite a few negatives. A big "thorn" for many users in Windows 10, was the degree to which Microsoft tracked user activity and personal data. Also, a large part of the public did not like the mandatory nature of the Windows update, let alone the fact that it "stole" part of the users' connection to the Internet.
In fact, an outraged consumer even sued Microsoft for the arbitrary upgrade and won the lawsuit.
Microsoft has responded publicly to the issue of privacy in Windows 10, claiming that the data is anonymous, while the goal was not to monitor the user, but only to improve services.
Windows 11 (2021)
Recently, Microsoft present, at the event "What's next for Windows", The Windows 11 and all the new features, capabilities and design with which its new operating system will come. Although the original plan the company announced a few years ago was that Windows 10 would be the latest operating system, things changed with the introduction of Windows 11. The new operating system is initially available for trial use, while will be officially released in the fall of 2021. So far, Windows 11 includes a brand new user interface, more design configuration options, new icons, a new design for the file management system, and a brand new menu.
In addition, all pre-installed applications will also have updated design and features, including Calendar, Weather and News. A new System Tray with a changed design in Notifications and Quick Actions is also provided.
Windows 11 also comes with improved sound and updated settings, with a more fluid design and appearance that millions of users will love, while they are expected to come with a brand new and much changed and improved Microsoft Store.
But let's look in more detail at the features of the new operating system.
The new design of Windows 11 has been simplified and is ideal to inspire productivity and creativity of users. It is modern, fresh, clean and beautiful. From the new Start menu to the icons, sound and fonts, everything has changed, with the main goal of simplicity and ease of use.
At first glance at the company's new operating system, we can see the similarities with Windows 10X. This is because Microsoft inspired the design and some of the features from the Windows 10X version, which was canceled in 2021. Microsoft has been trying for several years to turn its entire operating system design into its Fluent Design, and while failed to complete it in the 10th version, it seems to have made great progress in Windows 11.
The new fluent design will be available throughout the operating system, including the Settings application, File Manager, options and windows, menus, notifications, and every other design component of Windows 11.
The start menu can also be centered in the center, which apparently the company will keep as a default, while users will also be able to move it to a different location.
The company also started to provide more ways for users to change the design of the operating system, providing some ready-made themes that can be activated with just one click. Although these designs do not provide much change between them, we may see the company evolving them further.
Microsoft Store and Android applications
The new Microsoft Store is a version that came to revolutionize programs and applications. In particular, it will host up to Win32 programs, which means that in the coming years, the company's Store will be able to host all applications and programs, as is the case with MacOS and Linux.
Of course, it comes with an updated design that provides a complete Fluent experience. The company will also allow application developers to use their own content delivery networks, thus hosting applications and providing updates to them without the need for them to be provided exclusively by the Microsoft Store.
In the new Microsoft Store of Windows 11, the company will add some of its most popular applications, including Teams, Office, Edge and Visual Studio. This follows changes made to its Store Policy, which allows Win32 programs.
Microsoft also announced that Amazon will bring Android applications to the Microsoft Store, which will run smoothly and just as if they were native applications. And while Amazon apps will not support Google Play, the future plan is for the Microsoft Store to have as many Android apps as possible.
Chat from Microsoft Teams
A great feature that unfortunately failed to pique the interest of both users and developers in Windows 10, was the contacts bar. Microsoft wanted to not only improve this feature, but make it even more useful. With that in mind, the company introduces Chat from Microsoft Teams, a chat that users can use to make calls and video calls to their contacts, as well as exchange messages quickly and easily.
Chat from Microsoft Teams will come pre-installed with every version of Windows 11 and will work with other operating systems, such as Android and iOS.
If you are a gamer, then Microsoft claims that Windows 11 is designed for you. According to the company, gaming has always been a fundamental element of the operating system and so, the new version will be fully optimized to provide an amazing gaming experience.
Windows 11 will "unlock" the full potential of all the latest generation of gaming technology, providing features such as DirectX 12 Ultimate, which can enable graphics and high frame rates at high levels. DirectStorage will also provide faster load times in games and more detail in graphics. In addition, the new operating system will come with automatic HDR for more vivid colors and a better experience on HDR screens.
Perhaps the best news is that Windows 11 will be compatible with all existing games, so the optimizations that developers will have to make will all be future and for the better.
Availability and compatibility with computers
Windows 11 will be provided as a free upgrade for Windows 10 users, as long as their system is compatible with the new version of the operating system. More specifically, the company mentioned the minimum system requirements:
- A modern 64-bit processor
- 1Ghz clock speed
- 2 cores
- 64GB drive
- RAM 4GB
- UEFI, capacity for Secure Book and TPM 2.0
- 9-inch screen with at least 1366 × 768 resolution
- DirectX 12 compatible graphics / WDDM 2.x
The minimum system requirements for Windows 11 bring the end of 32-bit versions of the operating system. This means that a computer or laptop, in order to be compatible, must have a relatively modern 64-bit processor and at least 4GB of available RAM.
Although there will be no 32-bit version of Windows 11, the operating system will be fully compatible with 32-bit applications.
What will Windows 10 become?
Like any other older version of Windows, the much-loved Windows 10 will stop being updated and provided technical support by Microsoft for them on October 14, 2025. This date marks the 10th anniversary of Windows 10.