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History of Microsoft Windows


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by Liam Proven in The Inquirer 2 March 2007


Please note that due to a complete lack of access to internal documentation, dates are approximate.


WELCOME TO AN architectural overview of the design and planning of a market-leading operating system, illustrating how real professionals do this sort of thing.

Please note that due to a complete lack of access to internal documentation, dates are approximate.


1982: "Interface Manager" is being planned out.

THE MANAGEMENT: "Oh, hell, we have to stomp on VisiOn, they might be big, their spreadsheet was. Quick, build some kind of graphical shell thing."


1983: Windows 1.0 announced.

THE MANAGEMENT: "We must incorporate TopView compatibility, IBM's too big to ignore!"


1984: Apple Macintosh released.

THE MANAGEMENT: "OK, guys, the Mac's out, it's OK, you can play with those ones the Mac app developers have. Make it look more like the Mac!"


1985: Windows 1.01 released.

MARKETING DEPT: "Look, ma, we got one o' dem gooey things!"


1987: Windows 2.0 released.

THE MANAGEMENT: "No, really, Windows isn't that big a deal, OS/2 is the future. But for now, develop for Windows and you can port to OS/2 later! Here, look, we've got some apps for it!"


1988: Windows 2.1, Windows/286, Windows/386

WINDOWS DEVELOPERS: "Hey, we have some cool ideas about the 286 and 386. We could really use the extra memory!"


1990: Windows 3.0

THE MANAGEMENT: "Uh-oh. OS/2 is bombing. What to do we do now?"

WINDOWS DEVELOPERS: "Well, we could borrow the look and feel from OS/2 - you know, that app manager thing, File Manager, the proportional fonts and 3D widgets, stuff like that, give it virtual memory support and a few other hacks we had in mind, and bring all three editions into one?"

THE MANAGEMENT: "OK, go for it. It'll have to do for now."

(Shortly after the release, the dust settles and a stunned silence falls.)

THE MANAGEMENT: "Bloody hell. They bought it! Forget OS/2, this is the future!"

[Meanwhile, in Finland, a bored Comp Sci student thinks "I'm sick of this QL, I want a 386 with Unix. Only I can't afford Unix. I think I'll write my own."]


Early 1992: Windows 3.1

THE MANAGEMENT: "Oops. Multimedia. It needs that built in. IBM, here, you have OS/2. We'll, um, work on OS/2 3 with this Dave Cutler chap from DEC. Yeah, OS/2 3, that's it. All new technology."


Late 1992: Windows for Workgroups

THE MANAGEMENT: "And networking! We need networking!"


1993: NT 1.0, I mean, 3.1

MARKETING: "Here's NT! It's not OS/2 at all, it's Windows, look! It's the future!"


1995: Windows 95

16-BIT WINDOWS DEVELOPERS: "Hey, we've got some nifty ideas for tarting up the shell a bit. We could call it Windows 4!"

THE MANAGEMENT: "All right, but you're not calling it that 'cos it'd sound more advanced than NT. Speaking of which, you'd better make it 32-bit." 16-BIT WINDOWS DEVELOPERS: "Errr... OK. We can do that. Kinda."

MARKETING DEPT: "OK, so, lots of stuff doesn't work on NT, so here's Windows 95, it's, er, your migration path to NT! Yes, that's it!"


Windows NT 4

THE MANAGEMENT: "Oh bugger. Now 95 looks better than NT. Look, forget that Cairo stuff for now, let's bung the 95 interface on NT and call it NT4! Yeah! That's the real future!"


1996: Windows 95B OSR2

THE MANAGEMENT: "What did you say? You ess bee? What's that, then?"

LEGAL TEAM: "No, you honour, IE really is part of Windows, it's integral and everything. OK, so, we forgot to include it in 95 v1.0, it was part of the Plus Pack, but you need it. It's part of 95 OSR2. Look, if we remove it, Windows stops working."

LEGAL TEAM: "Oh, when Larry Lessig removes it, it still does work? Well, what does he know?"

LEGAL TEAM: "No, your honour, we wouldn't dream of stomping on Netscape, this isn't a bundled product, you told us not to do that last time."


1998: Windows 98

THE MANAGEMENT: "Sh*t, NT 5.0 still doesn't work, look, bung out a fixed version of 95… Give them, I don't know, multi-head support or something…"


1999: Windows 98SE

THE MANAGEMENT: "What do you mean the fixed version doesn't work? Oh, for god's sake…"


2000: Windows ME, Windows 2000

THE MANAGEMENT: "Here's NT5! Isn't it nice? Look, power management, plug and play, all that stuff that that nasty little 95 team had five years ago! No, it won't run 98 drivers. No, it won't run NT drivers either. No, not all DOS stuff works. No, it's not great for games. All right, shut up, here, have another version of 98, call it… Well, we know the millennium's not 'til next year, but it's close enough. Yeah, Millennium Edition. What, they can't spell "millennium"? Well call it something cuddly, then."


2001: Windows XP

MARKETING DEPT: "OK, look, we're really sorry about ME, all right? We're killing it off now. Finally. Here, try this, it's shiny!"


2003: Windows Server 2003

THE MANAGEMENT: "Look, it's been two years, we've had service packs and everything, it must be stable enough by now!"


2004: (...)

THE MANAGEMENT: "What do you mean it still doesn't work? Try harder!"


2005: (...)

"MAKE IT WORK! FOR GOD'S SAKE, MAKE IT WORK! Well, throw it away and use the server version then, that seems all right. Look, they won't know the difference, drop the database stuff, nobody remembers what we said in 1995 now! That was ten years ago! "Apple has what? 3D acceleration? So, we have DirectX. What, in the desktop? Really? What, even Stallman's beardie-weirdies have it? Oh hell. Right, you lot, make it look like this!"


2006: Windows Vista

THE MANAGEMENT: "Look, if we trickle it out to those mugs, I mean, valued customers who've already paid, we can say we released it this year and it'll buy us some more time…"


2007: No, really Windows Vista, honest

MARKETING DEPT: "Never mind the features, look at it! Isn't it shiny? Yes! Pretty!"

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That's pretty funny Brendon. If one had really been a fly on the wall at many of the MS meetings, I'm sure some of those statements would have fit in. :D Funny thing is that for each of the updates that MS made, there was always something out there on the market or being developed that gave them the reason to change to. I wonder what they will see next that will make them change from Vista ??



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Actually Brendon the guys at Xerox came up with it before anybody else (and they also referred to it as windows)


"...The Xerox PARC team with Merzouga Wilberts, codified the WIMP (windows, icons, menus and pointers) paradigm, first pioneered on the Xerox Alto experimental computer, but which eventually appeared commercially in the Xerox 8010 ('Star') system in 1981...."


Hmm and Bill says that windows is a trade mark and nobody else is allowed to use it :lol:




But then, didn't Microsoft invent the PC, the World Wide Web, Java, etc, etc? :P

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