A brief history of Microsoft Windows: timeline, versions

A brief history of Microsoft Windows: timeline, versions

Windows is the operating system sold by the Seattle-based company Microsoft. Microsoft, originally christened "Traf-O-Data" in 1972, was renamed "Micro-soft" in November 1975, then "Microsoft" on November 26, 1976. Microsoft Windows has over 90% of the Market share for personal computers. Read on to discover the fascinating and successful history of Microsoft Windows!

How was Microsoft created?

Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft on April 4, 1975, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. At that time, Allen was a programmer at Honeywell, and Gates was a student at the University of Harvard. They had the idea of developing an implementation of BASIC for Altair 8800 (the first microcomputer) after Allen saw it on the cover of Popular Electronics. After contacting and demonstrating the implementation to Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS), the manufacturer of Altair, the company agreed to distribute Altair BASIC. This led to both men moving to Albuquerque. The company registered under Microsoft on November 26, 1976, and had thirteen employees. Later, they had to move to Bellevue, Washington, because they encountered difficulties recruiting programmers in Albuquerque.

microsoft team
© Microsoft

How many versions were there?

Microsoft entered the marketplace in August 1981 by releasing version 1.0 of the operating system Microsoft DOS (MS-DOS), a 16-bit command-line operating system

The first version of Microsoft Windows (Microsoft Windows 1.0) came out in November 1985. It had a graphical user interface inspired by the user interface of the Apple computers of the time. Windows 1.0 was unsuccessful with the public, and Microsoft Windows 2.0, launched December 9, 1987, did not do much better.

On May 22, 1990, Microsoft Windows became a success, with Windows 3.0, then Windows 3.1 in 1992, and finally Microsoft Windows for Workgroups, later renamed Windows 3.11, which included network capabilities. Windows 3.1 cannot be considered an entirely separate operating system because it was only a graphical user interface running on top of MS-DOS.

microsoft history
© Microsoft

On August 24, 1995, Microsoft launched the operating system Microsoft Windows 95. Windows 95 signified Microsoft's willingness to transfer some of MS-DOS's capabilities into Windows. Still, this new version was based more heavily on 16-bit DOS and retained the limitations of the FAT16 file system, so that it was not possible to use long file names.

After minor revisions of Microsoft Windows 95, named Windows 95A OSR1, Windows 95B OSR2, Windows 95B OSR2.1, and Windows 95C OSR2.5, Microsoft released the next version of Windows on June 25, 1998: Windows 98. Windows 98 natively supported features other than MS-DOS but was still based upon it. Moreover, Windows 98 suffered from poor memory handling when multiple applications ran, which could cause system malfunctions. The second edition of Windows 98 came out on February 17, 2000, named Windows 98 SE (for "Second Edition").

On September 14, 2000, Microsoft released Windows Me (for Millennium Edition), also called Windows Millennium. Windows Millennium was based mainly on Windows 98 (and therefore on MS-DOS), but added additional multimedia and software capabilities. Furthermore, Windows Millennium included a system-restore mechanism for returning to a previous state in the event of a crash.

Concurrent with these releases, Microsoft had been selling (since 1992) an entirely 32-bit operating system (which therefore was not based on MS-DOS) for professional use at a time when businesses primarily used mainframes. It was Windows NT (for Windows "New Technology"). Windows NT was not a new version of Windows 95 or an improvement on it, but an entirely different operating system

On May 24, 1993, the first version of Windows NT was released. It was called Windows NT 3.1, followed by Windows NT 3.5 in September 1994 and Windows 3.51 in June 1995. With Windows NT 4.0, launched for sale on August 24, 1996, Windows NT finally became a success.

In July 1998, Microsoft released Windows NT 4.0 TSE (Terminal Server Emulation), the first Windows system that allowed terminals to be plugged into a server, i.e., use thin clients to open a session on the server.

On February 17, 2000, the next version of NT 4.0 was renamed Windows 2000 (instead of Windows NT 5.0) to highlight the unification of "NT" with the "Windows 9x" systems. Windows 2000 is an entirely 32-bit system with characteristics of Windows NT, as well as an improved task manager and full compatibility with USB and FireWire peripherals.

Then, on October 25, 2001, Windows XP arrived on the scene. This was a merger of the preceding operating systems.

On April 24, 2003, Microsoft released a server operating system: Windows Server 2003.

Next, on November 30, 2006, Windows launched Windows Vista for Business use, followed by Windows Vista for Home use on January 30, 2007.

Windows Server 2008 was released on February 27, 2008.

The company next released Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 on October 22, 2009.

Windows Home Server 2011 was released on April 6, 2011, followed by Windows Server 2012 on September 4, 2012.

On October 26, 2012, arrived Windows RT and Windows 8.

Windows 10 launched on July 29, 2015. It is followed by Windows Server 2016 (September 27, 2016) and Windows Server 2019 (October 2, 2018). And the last version of nowadays, Windows 11 was released in 2021.

© Microsoft
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