Today marks 35 years of Windows

onetheycallEric

Posts: 217   +39
Staff member
Happy birthday! 35 years ago today, Windows 1.0 shipped and marked the first version of the venerable operating system that brought together a GUI and MS-DOS. Windows has certainly changed a lot over the course of 35 years, and today's Windows 10 is all but unrecognizable compared to Windows 1.0. However, for all of the changes the operating system has undergone, every version of Windows can be traced back to Windows 1.0.

Windows 1.0 was spearheaded by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, owing inspiration to VisiCorp's Visi On, a short-lived GUI-based OS for IBM computers. Windows 1.0 introduced a graphical user interface atop MS-DOS and brought user friendly icons to Windows, which have since become a mainstay for the operating system. While the reception to Windows 1.0 was lukewarm at best, its importance to the future of the Windows line is indisputable.

Windows 1.0 laid the groundwork for the extremely successful Windows 3.0/3.1x series, as well as the succeeding Windows 95. Windows 1.0 also marked the arrival of components such as the calculator and control panel, which have been in every version of Windows since.

From Windows 1.0 to Windows 10, we've seen the evolution of Windows hallmarks such as the Start button, clickable icons, task bar, and the Start menu, just to name a few. On the 35th anniversary of Windows, let us know what your favorite version is/was.

Image credit: Tommy Alven

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Endymio

Posts: 997   +835
Best Operating System Ever
It's worth noting that Windows wasn't an operating system until Windows 95 was released. Before that, it was simply a graphical shell.

And even after that, it was a rather horrendous operating system, until Win2K and subsequent versions incorporated the OS/2 kernel. Windows flourished over its competitors for one reason only: Gates lavished love and attention on the software development community, who turned out software for Windows in droves.
 

CrisisDog

Posts: 200   +98
I'm the oddball.

I actually loved Vista. Bought a new rig to go straight to 64-bit with a RAID 5 drive setup, and had no issues whatsoever. Anyone I knew of that had a problem was using 32-bit, and I remember there being some odd memory mapping issue with video cards that might have been the cause of so much distress.

I also liked Windows 8, for its use of a touch interface. Keyboard / mouse usage, yeah that kinda sucked, but if you were using a tablet, it was vastly more intuitive than Windows 10 today.

I did not like Windows XP when I first tried to use it. There was a crashing issue with Hyperthreading on my system, and I eventually rolled back to Windows 2000 until it went EOL. By then, Windows XP was up a fixpack or two, stomping out the bugs I previously encountered.

Absolutely hated Windows 3.1, but was forced to use it at work. Even with 16MB of system memory, I had constant crashes. Used OS/2 on my home system as Windows 3.1 could not even handle downloads via modem, always timing out. Went to Windows 95 when it was released. Both were so much better than 3.1.
 

amghwk

Posts: 857   +682
Windows died with Windows 7.

Have fond memories of Windows 3.1.

Still using it. In my actual built and curated 486DX2-66 that I'm keeping for nostalgia, Dosbox and 86Box. Complete with Roland MPU-401 and Roland SC-55, Roland MT-32 and SoundBlaster AWE32. (Both with actual modules and cards in the system, and as emulations in Dosbox and 86Box.)

Also using Windows 95 (along with Ms-DOS 6.22) in my actual Slot-1 Pentium II 400MHz machine and Windows 98SE and Windows XP in my Pentium 4 machine.

Thanks to Windows 10, I'm now a full time Linux user in my main 'connected' desktop and laptops. (Still have Windows 7 in them, on another partition, though.)
 
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yRaz

Posts: 3,406   +2,979
I'm the oddball.

I actually loved Vista. Bought a new rig to go straight to 64-bit with a RAID 5 drive setup, and had no issues whatsoever. Anyone I knew of that had a problem was using 32-bit, and I remember there being some odd memory mapping issue with video cards that might have been the cause of so much distress.

I also liked Windows 8, for its use of a touch interface. Keyboard / mouse usage, yeah that kinda sucked, but if you were using a tablet, it was vastly more intuitive than Windows 10 today.

I did not like Windows XP when I first tried to use it. There was a crashing issue with Hyperthreading on my system, and I eventually rolled back to Windows 2000 until it went EOL. By then, Windows XP was up a fixpack or two, stomping out the bugs I previously encountered.

Absolutely hated Windows 3.1, but was forced to use it at work. Even with 16MB of system memory, I had constant crashes. Used OS/2 on my home system as Windows 3.1 could not even handle downloads via modem, always timing out. Went to Windows 95 when it was released. Both were so much better than 3.1.
I absolutely LOVED Vista. I think the problems most people had with it was that it was a resource hog and didn't play well with older hardware. If you had a powerful system on new hardware there were very little problems. Sure, you had to brute force your way threw it, but it wasn't that bad.

I, also, hated XP. I just found the styling childish and ugly. I actually ruined one of my systems trying to install themes on XP because of how ugly I thought it was.
 
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arrowflash

Posts: 217   +185
I'm not sure Windows 1.0 should even count... even back in 1985, everyone saw it more as a cute tech demo than a real operating environment, and no one used it. Same for Windows 2.0. Windows 2.1 was the first version that started being taken seriously.

I absolutely LOVED Vista. I think the problems most people had with it was that it was a resource hog and didn't play well with older hardware. If you had a powerful system on new hardware there were very little problems. Sure, you had to brute force your way threw it, but it wasn't that bad.
post-SP1 Vista was absolutely fine, however pre-SP1 Vista was a buggy trainwreck. Not even file copying worked well.

And from what I remember it's the opposite, Vista at release was relatively stable (albeit slow) on older hardware, but very unstable and crash prone on recent hardware because of driver problems. In particular, I remember RTM Vista not being recommended for people with SATA hard drives or PCI-E graphics cards, both of which where still relatively recent technologies at the time.

I, also, hated XP. I just found the styling childish and ugly. I actually ruined one of my systems trying to install themes on XP because of how ugly I thought it was.
I assume you didn't know you could just switch to the classic Windows 2000 theme?
 
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amghwk

Posts: 857   +682
I actually liked Windows XP theme. Windows Vista and Windows 7 are quite similar with the Aero theming. Though I didn't have any problems with Vista, I find Windows 7 is more refined and the last good OS from MS.
 

arrowflash

Posts: 217   +185
I'm the oddball.

I actually loved Vista. Bought a new rig to go straight to 64-bit with a RAID 5 drive setup, and had no issues whatsoever. Anyone I knew of that had a problem was using 32-bit, and I remember there being some odd memory mapping issue with video cards that might have been the cause of so much distress.
Not only 32-bit Vista, Windows 7 32-bit has always been less stable than 64-bit. Don't have much experience with 32-bit Windows 8 or 10 but I'd assume it's the same.

However, I did install pre-SP1, 32-bit Windows Vista on a test machine that was already pretty outdated at the time (Pentium III 700 MHz, 512 MB SDR ram, 40 GB IDE HDD), and had surprisingly few issues considering the horror stories I often heard. It was slow of course, but worked mostly alright. Like I said in my previous comment, I remember RTM Vista having more issues on newer rigs. I'm surprised it worked perfectly for you with a new machine and RAID setup, was it pre-SP1 Vista?

Absolutely hated Windows 3.1, but was forced to use it at work. Even with 16MB of system memory, I had constant crashes. Used OS/2 on my home system as Windows 3.1 could not even handle downloads via modem, always timing out. Went to Windows 95 when it was released. Both were so much better than 3.1.
Windows 3.1 could be surprisingly stable with the right hardware and setup (down to ram timings, motherboard+ram+video card combination, bios settings), but yeah on most machines it was pretty finicky and unstable. I don't think Windows 95 was too different on that front though, there were some machines I could never make it work right. Hardware compatibility and stability did improve a lot starting with Windows 95 OSR2 (aka Win95 B) and Windows 98.

That said, I absolutely loved Windows 3.1, especially because of its UI theme. The start menu was a huge improvement and move forward, probably the most significant to this day, but the Windows 3.x UI theme was just too comfy and I have always missed it.
 

arrowflash

Posts: 217   +185
I actually liked Windows XP theme. Windows Vista and Windows 7 are quite similar with the Aero theming. Though I didn't have any problems with Vista, I find Windows 7 is more refined and the last good OS from MS.
You're definitely the oddball for liking the Windows XP Fischer Price theme :p

Though I'd still take the standard Windows XP theme over Windows 10 "Modern" whitespace-riddled nonsense.

And of course Windows 7 is more refined than Vista, it's literally Vista SP3 (and 7 SP1 == Vista SP4).
 
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amghwk

Posts: 857   +682
Windows 3.1 (and 3.11) is also easier to backup. Once I have installed the graphics drivers and sound drivers and setup the color scheme to my liking and arranged the desktop icons the way I want (maximized desktop with the Main window open and the rest of the folder icons at the bottom arranged in line), I make a backup copy of the Windows directory and keep it safe in another directory. This will be my base clean install, and if any program messes up, I simply restore the folder. I even created my own batch files for automating the backing up and restoring process. (With deltree and xcopy commands.)

The softwares for 3.1x were less intelligent those days. Most didn't have Uninstallers, though 3rd party programs did exist to monitor new installations and help in cleaning up the removals.
 

arrowflash

Posts: 217   +185
Windows 3.1 (and 3.11) is also easier to backup. Once I have installed the graphics drivers and sound drivers and setup the color scheme to my liking and arranged the desktop icons the way I want (maximized desktop with the Main window open and the rest of the folder icons at the bottom arranged in line), I make a backup copy of the Windows directory and keep it safe in another directory. This will be my base clean install, and if any program messes up, I simply restore the folder. I even created my own batch files for automating the backing up and restoring process. (With deltree and xcopy commands.)

The softwares for 3.1x were less intelligent those days. Most didn't have Uninstallers, though 3rd party programs did exist to monitor new installations and help in cleaning up the removals.
True. Windows 3.x and DOS programs tended to break very easily (usually because of file corruption due to FAT16 being held together with spit and third-grade duct tape - with FAT32 at least they used thicker spit and second-grade tape...), but it was also a lot simpler to backup and restore, just copy the install folder, even in Windows case - assuming your backup was also copied without unseen filesystem errors, of course.

The problem is that in the early days of Windows 3.x disk space was at a huge premium and backing up an entire Windows 3.1 install on floppies wasn't very practical. This became less of an issue as we approached the mid 90s.
 
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psycros

Posts: 3,227   +3,469
Microsoft topped out with the XP user interface. I'm not talking about the default theme but the actual UI paradigm. Then came Vista which seemed designed for wide screens a few years too soon. It also exhibited odd UI glitches a little too frequently and hardware support problems which Microsoft tried (pathetically) to blame on hardware vendors. Finally we got sort of the best compromise of the past three versions: Windows 7. Stable as a rock and efficient with system resources for the most part and, with just a little work, backwards-compatibile to the Windows 98 days! And now we have an OS that for no logical reason wants to force a mobile experience onto a PC desktop, including all the spying. Give me the the XP shell on a Windows 7 or Windows 10 stack and you'd have to fight me to ever get a different OS on my systems.
 

Fearghast

Posts: 288   +186
Whoopty F*cking Do ... :-D
Seriously the amount of pain and joy Windows caused in 35 years of existence is like 50:50.
On the other hand: If ANYONE would test Windows Updates, and they won't be forced down your throat, most of the issues would be minor.
 

duckofdeath

Posts: 42   +30
It's worth noting that Windows wasn't an operating system until Windows 95 was released. Before that, it was simply a graphical shell.

And even after that, it was a rather horrendous operating system, until Win2K and subsequent versions incorporated the OS/2 kernel. Windows flourished over its competitors for one reason only: Gates lavished love and attention on the software development community, who turned out software for Windows in droves.
Windows NT and OS/2 were more of a joint venture, created by IBM, taken over sneakily by Microsoft. Windows NT 3.5, I think, was the first commercial iteration of Microsoft's "modern" design. NT and OS/2 were compatible. I actually think Windows 2000 was the point where Microsoft cut a lot of the cords to the OS/2, Unix and other hardware platforms the older generations supported. Software in Win2k had a lot of stability issues because of that, I vaguely remember. Sort of a "lite version" of the growing pains the consumer edition had when it went from DOS-based to NT base in Windows XP.

Regarding the writeup's what I liked from the olden days? The easily hackable and endless customization possibilities with the shell of Windows 95 and 98? I remember, it was possible to install Win 98 without a license key, by rebooting into fail safe mode at the point it asked for a license key, then manually enter random letters in the key's entry in the registry. Twas simpler times. :D
 
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seeprime

Posts: 502   +544
What lessons did microsoft learn with xp and 7, to make them do what they're doing with windows 10? it's as if it's an amazing os and a terrible one at the same time
Windows 10 clean installs, from .ISO on a USB drive, in minutes. It can be completely updated in under 20 more minutes on a fast fiber optics system, even with a 2-GHz Celeron quad-core J1900 with an SSD. The ugly is the random bugs that come, stay a while, and eventually get patched to make way for new random bugs. The need to turn off every privacy setting is a bit annoying, but once usually does the trick. 10 takes longer to set up, but is far more secure than older versions. I totally agree with Trapped Nowhere. 10 is indeed the best and worst Windows ever, with more positive aspects then negative ones. The problem is the negative ones are often show stoppers.
 
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gamerk2

Posts: 434   +303
Windows NT and OS/2 were more of a joint venture, created by IBM, taken over sneakily by Microsoft. Windows NT 3.5, I think, was the first commercial iteration of Microsoft's "modern" design. NT and OS/2 were compatible. I actually think Windows 2000 was the point where Microsoft cut a lot of the cords to the OS/2, Unix and other hardware platforms the older generations supported. Software in Win2k had a lot of stability issues because of that, I vaguely remember. Sort of a "lite version" of the growing pains the consumer edition had when it went from DOS-based to NT base in Windows XP.

Regarding the writeup's what I liked from the olden days? The easily hackable and endless customization possibilities with the shell of Windows 95 and 98? I remember, it was possible to install Win 98 without a license key, by rebooting into fail safe mode at the point it asked for a license key, then manually enter random letters in the key's entry in the registry. Twas simpler times. :D
NT was it's own separate thing, built by the same guys who made VAX/VMS. Microsoft literally brought those guys and had them make an OS for them; NT was the result.

2000 came about because people complained about dropping DOS support, so Microsoft put out one final OS that backported some NT features into the 9x kernel. As we all know, it didn't work out too well.

OS/2 was it's own thing. Originally, it was supposed to be a superset of Windows features plus OS/2 specific items, but the Microsoft/IBM relationship fell apart and the two went their separate ways.
 

Endymio

Posts: 997   +835
Windows NT and OS/2 were more of a joint venture, created by IBM, taken over sneakily by Microsoft.
OS/2 was indeed a joint venture. Microsoft eventually exited the venture over a multitude of disagreements, leaving IBM with sole control of OS/2, though MS retained rights to the kernel technology and which they later turned into Windows NT.

It might interest you to know that OS/2 never died entirely, and is still being sold today, though under a couple of different names.

Windows NT 3.5, I think, was the first commercial iteration of Microsoft's "modern" design. NT and OS/2 were compatible.
There were no versions of NT before 3.1. 3.5 wasn't a redesign, though I recall it being substantially faster. And NT and OS/2 were never fully compatible ... indeed the Win API differences were one of the reasons for the breakup above.

I actually think Windows 2000 was the point where Microsoft cut a lot of the cords to the OS/2, Unix and other hardware platforms
Win2K was the first consumer release of NT. It had the user interface components of Win98, atop the kernel and device drivers of NT. It was far more stable than the prior consumer versions of Windows, and it still is remembered as perhaps the most stable of all Windows versions ever. I know of one group of Win2K servers that each had nearly 15 years of uninterrupted uptime, without crash or reboot.
 

terzaerian

Posts: 22   +17
An ambivalent anniversary for me. I grew up using Windows - I started on 3.1 so I got *some* experience using DOS, but I liked the prickly ambiguity of it less than the Windows environment, which I took to readily. It's easy for command line chauvinists to be cavalier today - references and guides to its use are a few clicks away at any time. The internet did not deeply penetrate where I lived until late in my childhood.

This inculcated a blind loyalty to Microsoft that I did not shake until Windows 8. That attempt to unilaterally do away with the desktop environment I had known and replace it with a dumbed-down tile nightmare evaporated the last of my illusions about Microsoft and what they were. Regardless, I was still unable to switch to Linux. The GUIs in the distros I tried always seemed to be afterthoughts; necessary concessions by developers that favored the command line to the knuckle-dragging simpletons like myself that preferred GUIs. Whenever Linux runs into some kind of problem or issue, the prescription is always some arcane text sequence that you will only ever find out worked after you restart... and if it didn't, well, sucks to be you.

So now, 30 years later, I sit with Windows 10, an operating system I tolerate but otherwise deeply distrust. I watch with growing unease as each subsequent update tries to rip out a little more of the old desktop environment to shove into the hated Metro side of the UI, with who knows what functionality lost or buried in the process. Overall, I feel an incredible frustration, because if there was a viable alternative that had a really thoughtfully designed GUI, not just one bolted on out of necessity, I'd make that jump in a heartbeat.
 
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Nobina

Posts: 2,718   +2,352
While Windows 10 for me was mostly bug free I don't really like the direction they took it in. My favorite was Windows XP, since it felt like the most unrestricted Windows OS. Visuals were kinda corny but that's a minor thing.

I remember when I installed Vista for the first time I really liked it aesthetically but in games my framerates tanked hard which made me go back to XP. Windows 7 was polished Vista and it was very good but that's when Microsoft started complicating things by adding unnecessary features.
 
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