The windows system is a graphical operating system developed by Microsoft Corporation. It has become the worldwide standard for home and business computers. Windows has many different versions and can run on various hardware.
Early versions of Windows did not have built-in security features. This made them an easy target for malware and other attacks.
The first version of Microsoft’s Windows line was launched in November 1985. It ran as a graphical MS-DOS shell, known as “MS-DOS Executive”, on top of existing MS-DOS applications, allowing them to run in side-by-side windows that could not overlap.
It was a disappointment for critics, who expected that it would blow Apple’s Mac OS out of the water. It was followed by Windows 2.0, which included overlapping windows and word processing.
Windows 1.1 was Microsoft’s first release of a graphical multitasking shell on top of MS-DOS. It was aimed at competitors such as Apple Macintosh, Xerox Star and Digital Research GSX and was heavily promoted at COMDEX in 1983.
Among other changes, this version added support for 256 colours and allowed supported MS-DOS programmes to be pre-emptively multitasked. It also introduced card-moving timesink Solitaire.
A 286 version of Windows with EMS emulation and support for 386 enhanced mode. Windows/386 allowed MS-DOS programs to run in parallel in virtual 8086 CPU mode instead of having to suspend background applications.
This version was the first to require a hard drive. It also introduced overlapping windows and menu keyboard shortcuts. It also added resizable windows and support for SVGA cards.
Introduced in 1990, Windows 3.0 was the version that put Microsoft’s graphical operating system on the map. Its user interface and improved multitasking capabilities made it an attractive alternative to Apple Macintosh and Unix-based systems.
Microsoft had already been working to get MS-DOS into protected mode in the 2.0 series, a 286 version that could run VDM’s but was unstable and a 386 version that ran full MS-DOS sessions but also in protected mode.
The graphical user interface of Windows 3.1, released in 1992, showed that the old saying “three times a charm” really does apply. It was more stable and had improved multimedia features, including screensavers and the music player.
It also introduced TrueType scalable fonts to replace Adobe Type Manager, and windowed DOS applications could run with graphics support. It dropped support for x86 real mode and was replaced by Windows for Workgroups 3.11. An updated simplified Chinese release was also released.
Windows XP (codenamed Whistler) was the major upgrade to the operating system that replaced Windows 2000 and Millennium. It introduced improved stability and efficiency, a redesigned user interface, and security enhancements.
A 64-bit edition was released that allowed for greater memory capacity and computing power. Other versions were tailored for specific hardware, such as the Media Center Edition and the Tablet PC Edition.
Microsoft renamed its line of operating systems, previously known as NT, to Windows 2000, and the product names were changed to reflect this. Windows 2000 Professional was geared to individuals and small business, offering security and mobile use enhancements.
It included version 7.0 of the DirectX application programming interface, which made games more responsive on the platform. It also offered improved troubleshooters to help users troubleshoot hardware problems without calling tech support.
Windows ME is a Microsoft consumer version of the OS that succeeded Windows 98. It includes features geared towards multimedia and home networking, such as Windows Media Player 7.0 and Internet Explorer 5.5.
It also introduces a monitoring and reversion system called System Restore, which allows the user to roll back the OS to a previous state by tracking changes in Windows system files and the registry. Unfortunately, compatibility problems plagued the operating system and contributed to its poor reputation.
When Microsoft released Windows NT in 1993, it marketed it as a cutting-edge OS for workstations and small to midsized servers. The name NT stood for New Technology, but the OS had advanced capabilities for that time, including multiprocessing and processor independence.
NT also had kernel and user-mode subsystems. For example, NT’s memory manager moved processes to and from paging files in response to system demands.