The Windows timeline: The amazing journey from Windows 1.0 to 10

Microsoft has officially put the veil off Windows 11, marking a new chapter of its operating system. The latest update is in line to continue the journey started by its predecessors way back in the ’80s.

Windows 10 users can know if their PCs are eligible to upgrade to Windows 11 by checking the PC Health Check app from Microsoft free of charge. The upgrade will start to become available through the Windows Update section of the Settings app later this year and continue through 2022. 

Also read: Microsoft Windows 11: What to expect

As we learn more about Windows 11, let’s take a look back at how the operating system has changed.

Windows 1.0

The year was 1985, the month – November! Windows 1.0 was a significant shift from MS-DOS with Microsoft debuting an operating system with a graphical user interface away from typing commands. It was an exciting venture, given that it allowed users to use a mouse to point and click on tasks.

windows operating system

Windows 2.0

The second version of the Windows Operating System was unveiled in December 1987. While bearing no key changes from the primary version, it introduced resizable windows for applications. Additionally, the software users could overlap the windows with one another. The OS also added more color options.

windows 2

Windows 3.0

With the emergence of the Internet, the use of Personal Computers was undergoing a transition. For this reason, in 1990, Microsoft launched Windows 3.0 – after intensive efforts to have it done. Users now had the ability to multitask with multiple apps more efficiently, and apps overall ran faster. The interface was revamped to add more consistent colors and readability. It also introduced apps like notepad, paintbrush, macro recorder, reversi, and solitaire.

windows operating system

Windows 95

Launched in August 1995, it marked the biggest shift in Windows’ user interface, adding the Start button and Taskbar to help users easily find applications. It also added the option to right-click on the mouse for additional tools such as edit, copy and paste. It also came with a new system control located on the upper left corner of each window as an icon. In the upper right of each window, it displayed “Minimize”, “Maximize/Restore” and new added “Close” buttons.

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Windows 98

The next version of Windows was unveiled in June 1998 and it introduced USB support, opening the door for third-party PC accessories. It also added new troubleshooting wizards and the ability to view DVDs or broadcast TV. Here, Microsoft began to integrate Microsoft Internet Explorer to their Windows system to not only display web pages, but also manage windows and the help system.


Read also: How to fix screen flickering in Windows 10

Windows 2000

Windows 2000 was released on February 17, 2000. Microsoft made four editions of Windows 2000 and they all were targeted at different markets.  The editions included Windows 2000 Professional, Windows 2000 Server, Windows 2000 Advanced Server, and Windows 2000 Data Server. In this version, there were some pre-created folders for pictures and music in the “My Documents” folder. The special folder, “My Pictures”, allows graphic files to be previewed as thumbnails.

Windows XP

XP stands for experience. There were two editions of Windows XP: Windows XP Professional and Windows XP Home Edition. Both editions had many visual effects added that the predecessors did not have. The main visual effects added were shadows under the menus and the drop shadows under the desktop icons. This made everything about Windows XP feel 3D. It also included built-in wireless networking support as well as improvements in Internet tools and handling music, videos, and photos.

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Windows Vista

Launched in January 2007, the new operating software overhauled the interface and introduced a redesigned search function and a visual style called Aero. There were five editions of Vista: Windows Vista Starter Edition, Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Business, and Windows Vista Ultimate. However, most PC owners stayed still on XP as Vista had issues with slowness and incompatibility. 

Windows Vista Search Problems

Windows 7

In 2009, Windows launched one of its most popular Operating Systems in Windows 7. This came with a revamped taskbar, improvements to media options, alerts for system updates that were less disruptive, and support for multitouch options. Windows 7 had six editions: Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Enterprise, and Windows 7 Home Basic. 


Windows 8

In 2012, Windows upgraded its OS to 8, killing the Start Menu in the process. Microsoft made the start menu full screen. Instead of icons on the start screen, there were live tiles, a clock on the start screen. Also, they got rid of the start button in the taskbar. There were four editions of Windows 8: one just called Windows 8, Windows 8 Professional, Windows 8 Enterprise, and Windows RT.


Windows 10

The start menu got its life back with Windows 10, launched in 2015. Microsoft also provided prime attention to Cortana, its own personal digital assistant. It also introduced the web browser Microsoft Edge, the eventual replacement for Internet Explorer.


Read more: How to turn off the notification your windows license will expire soon

Read more: How to get rid of junk in your Windows 10 start menu

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