A window is a separate viewing area on a computer screen that’s part of a graphical user interface. Windows can be resized, maximized, minimized, or closed.
Microsoft’s Windows operating system became a defining product in the PC market. It dominated the market with its first graphical user interface and improved application and memory management.
At a time when most IBM PC compatibles ran command-line MS-DOS, Windows 3.0 introduced graphical capabilities and multitasking for the first time. It also provided a much more pleasant interface to text mode programs such as Lotus 1-2-3 and Captain Comic.
This version replaced the clunky MS-DOS Executive shell with an easy to use Program Manager and File Manager. It could run in Real, Standard or 386 Enhanced mode.
Microsoft Windows 3.1, released in April 1992, introduced features that made it easier to use graphical applications than the command-line environment of MS-DOS. It was also the first release to support 386 Enhanced Mode, which enabled multiple MS-DOS applications to run in separate windows.
It was the first version to include True Type fonts and Object Linking and Embedding (OLE), which enabled drag-and-drop sharing of formatted text, images and sounds between Windows applications for the first time. It dropped support for Real Mode with build 34f.
Windows 95 was the first consumer version of Microsoft’s operating system to be its own OS instead of a shell that rode on top of DOS. It was the first to feature a redesigned graphical user interface and preemptive multitasking for pseudo-protected mode 32-bit applications.
Its release was marked by a massive $300 million marketing campaign, including the use of the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” song to promote the new Start button. It also introduced USB support and plug and play.
Windows 98 is a 16/32 bit operating system that enhances Web integration and improves support for hardware devices such as USB, DVD and MMX processors. It also includes new tools and wizards for system maintenance.
When Microsoft first demonstrated Windows 98 at Comdex in April 1998, it created a buzz of excitement among consumers. Its many features and improvements included a more stable environment with programs that ran faster.
Previously known as Windows NT 5.0, this version brought a host of new features to the table. For example, the Microsoft Installer offered a more uniform experience for installing and uninstalling programs; the Microsoft Management Console made it easy to manage vital system functions via a single interface; and the Recovery Console helped after software failures.
NT also introduced striped volumes that balance disk reads and writes among multiple disks, as well as encryption to protect sensitive data.
XP built on the Windows NT kernel to offer improved stability, security and efficiency. It prioritized the needs of both home and business users with a more intuitive user interface that made it easier to find features.
Multiple users can use a single computer with Windows XP, each using a unique computer account. These accounts track each person’s unique settings and files.
Windows Vista, originally known as Project Longhorn, was five years in the making. It promised a rock-steady system that supported the latest hardware and technology while keeping demand on resources low.
It delivered with a host of features including the aero interface, windows search, sidebar and gadgets, user account control, and bit locker drive encryption. It also included the new Segoe UI system font.
Microsoft released Windows 7 as a follow-up to the Vista operating system. It provides a range of improvements, including advanced touch and handwriting options, a new gadget gallery and improved media features.
This version supports touchscreen computers, which allows a user to drag and snap two windows together on the screen. It also includes a lightweight edition that is ideal for netbook computers.
Windows 8 has a completely new interface that makes it better suited for tablets. It also features improved multi-monitor support.
The desktop has been replaced by a Start screen that can display real-time information. It also has a more advanced search that finds results from the web, local computer and apps.
Windows 8.1 has passed its end of mainstream support, so you won’t receive any more security updates. This means that it’s time to upgrade!
After the failure of Windows 8, Microsoft aimed to recapture PC users with a more traditional user interface. It also introduced a new voice-activated digital assistant, Cortana.
The operating system offered a unified platform for universal apps that could run on personal computers, smartphones and video game consoles like the Xbox One. It also featured enhanced security features that included a virtualization-based tool that isolates processes, data and user credentials.