Introducing the GUI and the Dawn of Microsoft Windows
At the end of 1983, Microsoft products were aplenty and in use worldwide on different PCs. These included the GW Basic (extension to MS BASIC for complex programming), C Language, MS Flight Simulator (created for IBM), Pascal (another high level language), and a spreadsheet named Multiplan. The only competitor to Multiplan was Lotus, which gained an upper hand initially but had to give in to the Multiplan owing to the strong presence of Microsoft all over the world.
All the while, Gates was thinking of creating a word processing program that would take over WordPerfect. The year 1983 was a major turning point in the history of Microsoft. The semi-GUI (graphical user interface) based word processing program MS Word for MS DOS 1.0 was released in September. As part of its marketing strategy, Microsoft gave away a demonstration floppy with the September 1983 issue of PC World. The same year, in May, Microsoft came out with the concept of mouse so that users could quickly position their cursors on the screen.
Finally, in the month of November 1983, Microsoft unveiled a graphical user interface based extension to DOS. This software is what we know as MS Windows today. The Windows version 1 not only had a GUI that could easily be used with the available input devices (Remember that Microsoft came out with mouse sooner than Windows) but also offered the capability of multi-tasking. The term multi-tasking refers to the process of switching from one program to another without closing either of them. This was highly appreciated by users across the world and very soon captured a significant portion of the computing industry.
At the same time, Microsoft was also working on MS Works. The bundle of MS Works contained a word processor, a spreadsheet, database, and some other applications related to office jobs. MS Works was originally created for Apple. This was replaced by MS Office in 1989, which contained most of the applications such as MS Word, MS Excel, and other applications.
Meanwhile, MS was also working on OS/2, another operating system for IBM, which too proved to be a success. The partnership continued till 1990—the time when Windows version 3 was being used on more than eighty percent of PCs worldwide. With the end of partnership with IBM on OS/2, several of its features were transferred to Windows and a new release came as Windows 3.1 that continued to impress users across the world. At the turn of 1994, Microsoft had many products that gained much popularity across the world, the major ones being MS Windows 3.1, MS Office, Windows NT, SQL Server; and a knowledgebase apart from Visual Basic for Windows programming!
Until version 3.1, Windows was dependant on DOS meaning people had to boot into DOS for loading Windows. After leaving out OS/2, Microsoft directed most of its resources to MS Windows to make the operating system what it is today.
The following final section deals with the history of Microsoft after Windows 3.1, which made Microsoft the most prominent software company in the world and which led rise to several rivals who once used its products. The rivals list includes Apple that used Applesoft BASIC as well as MS Works.