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What Year Did Microsoft Announce the First Release of Windows

written by: Rita A.•edited by: Brian Nelson•updated: 6/10/2010

We have come a long way since the first version of Windows was introduced. Most users today date Windows back to Windows 3.0. In this article you will learn that the very first Windows operating system was introduced many years before that.

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    The First Windows Operating System - Windows 1.0

    Windows 1.0 released in 1985 and used MS-DOS as its interface. With MS-DOS you could only issue commands at the command prompt (C:\). With Windows 1.0, it was changed from MS-DOS to graphics mode. A mouse could be used as a point and click device, but very few people had one. Without a mouse, it was harder to use than MS-DOS. It came pre-installed with applications such as the calendar, notepad, clock, and calculator. Tiled windows were used, but could only have one application open at a time. Other applications would have to be minimized. Even though this was new technology, it was not widely popular and hard to use. It was a very error prone operating system.

    Windows 1.0 was available only on floppy disks, and you had to have MS-DOS on your computer before you could install it. It could be purchased for around $99.00.

    Windows 1.0 

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    Windows 2.0 - 1987

    In Windows 2.0, you could tile windows to have one application open at a time without others having to be minimized. You started hearing the terms Minimize and Maximize instead of Iconize and Zoom.

    Windows 2.0 

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    Windows 3.0 - 1990

    This was the first Windows version that had Desktop backgrounds and a Program Manager, File Manager and Print Manager. Quick launch icons were introduced. It had 16 colors and used the Intel 386 processor. Shortly after Windows 3.1 came out and this version had screensavers.

    Windows 3.0 

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    Windows NT 3.1 - 1993

    NT stands for New Technology and this version of Windows used the 32-bit operating system. Earlier versions of Windows used 16-bit/32-bit operating system.

    Windows 3.1 

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    Windows 95 - 1995

    This version of windows introduced open window buttons, the Start button, and a clock. The My Computer and Recycle Bin icons were added.

    Windows 95 

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    Windows NT 4.0 - 1996

    Windows NT 4.0 was directed to the business market. It looked very similar to Windows 95. It was popular for its stability and users were able to close stalled applications without having to shut down the whole operating system.

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    Windows 98 - 1998

    The first version of Windows 98 was not very popular and only lasted 12 months. The main thing people did not like is that the computer would shut down if left on for more than 50 days

    Windows 98 

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    Years 2000 - 2010

    1999 - Windows 98SE (Second Edition)

    Windows 98SE is an update to Windows 98. This version fixed bugs found in the first Windows 98 version.

    2000 - Windows 2000

    This version was used more in the business market, but many home users used it as well. Microsoft initially intended for Windows 2000 to replace Windows 98, but soon after realized a whole new operating system was needed.

    2000 - Windows ME (Millennium Edition)

    This version of Windows was widely unpopular. It was made mostly for home users, and had some entertainment features not on previous versions of Windows. It was known to be unstable and was on the market for less than a year before Microsoft brought out the widely popular XP.

    2001 - Windows XP

    Up until this time, Windows XP was by far the most popular version of Windows. This version stayed on the market for 6 years and is still used widely today. It sold over 400 million copies by October 2006.

    2007 - Windows Vista

    Windows Vista had many criticisms and quickly became unpopular. One of the major criticisms with this version of Windows is the constant warning prompts shown to users.

    2009 - Windows 7

    Windows 7 is the current major release of Windows. Features of Windows 7 include advanced search, faster boot time, device stage, and improved management.

    For more information on Windows XP and Windows 7 visit

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    Sample contents.

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