The PC revolution started off life 30 years ago this week. Microsoft launched its first version of Windows on November 20th, 1985, to succeed MS-DOS. It was a huge milestone that paved the way for the modern versions of Windows we use today. While Windows 10 doesn’t look anything like Windows 1.0, it still has many of its original fundamentals like scroll bars, drop-down menus, icons, dialog boxes, and apps like Notepad and MS paint.
Windows 1.0 also set the stage for the mouse. If you used MS-DOS then you could only type in commands, but with Windows 1.0 you picked up a mouse and moved windows around by pointing and clicking. Alongside the original Macintosh, the mouse completely changed the way consumers interacted with computers. At the time, many complained that Windows 1.0 focused far too much on mouse interaction instead of keyboard commands. Microsoft’s first version of Windows might not have been well received, but it kick-started a battle between Apple, IBM, and Microsoft to provide computing to the masses.
Windows has now dominated personal computing for 30 years, and no amount of Mac vs. PC campaigns have come close to changing that, but they’ve certainly been entertaining. Microsoft has continued to tweak Windows and create new uses for it across devices, in businesses, and now with the move to the cloud. It’s only now, with the popularity of modern smartphones and tablets, that Windows faces its toughest challenge yet. Microsoft may yet weather its mobile storm, but it will only do so by rekindling its roots as a true software company. In 2045, it’s unlikely that we’ll be celebrating another 30 years of Windows in quite the same fashion, so let’s look back at how Microsoft’s operating system has changed since its humble beginnings.
Windows logos and desktops through the years: