Evolution of Windows: The Complete History of Windows Operating System

“Its fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to the heed lessons of failure”, a quote by Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft is very much enough to describe the history of Windows Operating System.

Wait a minute…

Before we start, do you know…

Because if you know these names then only you can be fascinated about the history of Windows.


Let’s start,

 What is an Operating System?

Operating System is the main program that runs on a computer. Every computer must have an Operating system in order to run other programs on the computer. It’s a system software that  manages computer hardware and  software resources  and provides common services for computer programs.

Who is Microsoft?

Microsoft is an American based company whose Headquarters is located at Redmond, Washington, USA. Microsoft manufactures, licenses products and provides services related to computing. Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft.

See Also: 10 Interesting facts About Microsoft.

What is Windows Operating System?

Microsoft Windows or simply ‘Windows’ is a meta-family of graphical operating systems marketed, developed, and sold by Microsoft. It has several families of operating systems which we are going to see in this post.

Why Windows?


You are working at your office and suddenly your boss tells you to make dozens of copies of a document. If there was nothing called Windows, what you could have done is rely on a carbon paper or use a mimeograph to make a copy of the document. Bill Gates and Paul Allen, two young computer enthusiasts  seen the path to future computing  and went on to form Microsoft with a vision- a computer on every desk and in every home and the rest is what we call history.

Birth of Microsoft:

Paul Allen and Bill Gates were childhood friends. Once, Paul Allen read an article about Altair 8800 microcomputer in some electronics magazine. He showed the article to Bill gates, Bill then contacted MITS, the company who developed Altair. the intention was that the duo was ready to develop the BASIC programming language for Altair. Within few weeks, Bill and Allen were ready to demonstrate  their programs to MITS. Upon approval, MITS was ready to distribute and market the product under the name Altair BASIC.

This deal inspired Gates and Allen to form their own software company and Microsoft was founded on 4th April 1975 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States.

Windows now have been dominating the world of computers from the last 25 years. It is nearly impossible to imagine the world without it. But this mega success was not an easy cup of cake for the Microsoft founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen. Bounces along the whole way are what helped Windows transform from an unsure Operating System to the undisputed king in computers today.

If you are familiar with Windows  but not with the journey of how it has taken shape to change the world of technology what we see it today, then here we present the history of Windows Operating Systems journey.It’s worth reading…

1. Windows 1.0

Working on MS-DOS was a little bit tough for the users because it dealt with playing with various commands. Taking this into consideration, Microsoft announced its first edition of Windows on 1983. Microsoft released the first version (Windows 1.0) on 2nd November 1985. Now, instead of seeing the boring black screen, the user can just move a mouse to point and manage clicks through the screen. Drop-down menus, icons and dialog boxes made the programs easier to learn and use. You’re now able to modify among many programs while not having to quit and restart all.

You might be wondering about the features...

MS‑DOS file management, Paint, Notepad, Calculator, and a Calendar, these features were a part of the introductory Operating System. A game called “Reversi” was also a included in the first edition.

Trivia: MS‑DOS stands for Microsoft Disk Operating System.

2. Windows 2.0

On December 9, 1987, Microsoft released the second version of Windows, the Windows 2.0. With the improved speed, reliability and usability, computers now started becoming a part of daily life for some workers. Desktop icons and use of keyboard shortcuts helped to speed up the work.

Trivia: Control Panel makes its first appearance in Windows 2.0.

3. Windows 3.0 (Getting the Graphics)

It gets better…

After launching 2 booming versions of Windows, Microsoft made an announcement concerning its third Operating System Windows 3.0 on 22th May 1990. This new Windows Operating System was quite handsomely popular because of its sensible performance, advanced graphics with 16 colors, and improved icons.  The 3.0 edition offered full support for the Intel 386 processor. In Windows 3.0, the improved SDK helped software developers focus more on writing programs and less on writing device drivers. Program Manager, File Manager, Print Manager were some of the features that got place in this edition.

Trivia: Heart, Solitaire and Minesweeper made their appearance from Windows 3.0.

4. Windows 95 (Don’t forget the Internet)

One of the most publicized launch that Microsoft has ever taken on is Windows 95. Released on August 24, 1995, this was the first Operating System to have a Start button and a Start Menu. This era of Windows made the foundation for emails, fax/modems and multimedia games. This edition of Windows was compatible with its previous versions. This means that it allowed upgrading previous editions of Windows and MS-DOS. The upgrade was available for both floppy disk and CD-ROM with 12 different language supports.

This time…

Windows 95 had built-in support for Internet, dial-up networking, and new Plug and Play capabilities that made it easy to install hardware and software.

5. Windows 98 (Windows evolves for Work and Play)

On June 25, 1998, Windows 98 was launched. It was the first version of Windows that was designed by keeping in mind the consumers. By this time, PCs became common at work and home, and Internet cafes. With the system that “Works Better, Plays Better”, the user was able to find information with much ease.

What’s the best part…

The major improvements that came up with this system are:  functionality to open and close programs more quickly, and support for reading DVD discs and universal serial bus (USB) devices.

Trivia: Windows 98 is the last version based on MS‑DOS.

6. Windows ME

ME here stands for Millennium Edition. This edition of Windows was rushed into the market on September 2000. It had features like Internet Explorer 5.5, Windows Media Player 7, and the new Windows Movie Maker software, which provided basic video editing and was designed to be easy to use. Compared with alternative releases of Windows, Windows ME had a shelf-life of simply over a year.

Windows ME was often criticized for being buggy, slow and unstable. Windows ME, along with Windows 2000, were soon replaced by the NT-based Windows XP.

7. Windows XP (Stable, Usable and Fast)

With the marathon journey of 6 years, Windows XP is one of the best-selling Operating System and is still used at some parts of the globe. On October 25, 2001, Microsoft released Windows XP with a rejuvenated look and feel that focused on usability and a centered Help and support center. Awareness about the computer viruses and hackers increases, but due to online delivery of security updates, there was calmness to a certain extent. This version emphasized on help and support.

Windows XP, here’s why….

In addition, Navigation simplicity of the Start menu, taskbar, and Control Panel are more intuitive in this edition of Windows.

Windows XP was available in 25 different languages and had several editions like Windows XP 64-bit Edition (2001), Windows XP Media Center Edition (2002) , Windows XP Tablet PC Edition (2002).

8. Windows Vista (Smart on Security)

Windows Vista was released in 2006. This version was centered around security norms. User Account Control helps prevent potentially harmful software from making changes to your computer. In Windows Vista Ultimate, BitLocker Drive Encryption provides better data protection and was made available in 35 different languages. The redesigned start button made his first appearance on Windows Vista. Many features like the taskbar, borders around Windows get a brand new look. Search gets new emphasis and helps people find files on their PCs faster.

9. Windows 7 (Introduction to Touch Screen)

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”, Bill Gates, the founder of the giant company quoted himself. As the technology was changing with a rapid pace, people tend to think of more easy ways of communication standards, Microsoft perfectly made a bull’s eye by introducing the touchscreen era with Windows 7 which was made available on 22 October 2009. After a span of three years, Windows 7 was released with some major improvements to its predecessor Windows Vista. This new edition of Windows was praised by critics, who considered the Operating System to be a major improvement.

Want to know the best part…

Increased performance, redesigned look and feel, touch and handwriting recognition, support for virtual hard disks, Direct Access, and kernel improvements.

Windows 7 adds support for systems using multiple heterogeneous graphics cards from different vendors. Windows 7 is available in following editions:

Trivia: Windows 7 is evaluated by 8 million beta testers worldwide before it’s released.

10. Windows 8.0 (The Generation of Apps and Tiles)

On October 2012, Microsoft launched the Windows 8 edition, the most colorful and good-looking Operating System. Microsoft came up with a totally new interface that smartly worked on both the touch and on mouse and keyboard. The start menu was revised in this edition with apps and tiles that connect to people, files and websites.

Instead of keyboard and mouse, this time more focus was given on touch screen. These are the following editions of Windows 8:

11. Windows 8.1

Here’s why…

The vision of Windows 8 to provide powerful apps and cloud connectivity let the upgrade to Windows 8.1. Changes in user interface and desktop, online services and functionality, security and hardware compatibility etc are improvements to name a few. In addition, some very interesting apps were also shipped in Windows8.1, some of them are, Bing Smart Search so you can find what you’re looking for across the PC or the web, Bing Food & Drink, Bing Health & Fitness, and great utility apps like Reading List, Calculator, and Alarms.

Windows 8.1 Operating System the following editions:

12. Windows 10

The recent addition to the windows family is Windows 10. It was introduced to the world on 29 July 2015. A number of new features like Cortana, the Microsoft Edge, The Start menu, Windowed Windows Store apps, Virtual desktops/Task View, Action Center, Revamped core apps, The Xbox app, Continuum, Unified settings etc made their existence in this latest edition. Microsoft Edge is the new Web browser of Windows 10 which is specially designed to be a lightweight web browser. Till date, Microsoft has released numerous versions of Windows 10. If you are a genuine Windows 10 holder then you can upgrade Windows 10 for free.

Editions and Versions of  Windows Operating System

This list shows the client versions of Windows that can be purchased and installed on personal computers, laptops and workstations.
NameRelease EditionsBuild
Windows 1029th july 2015Windows 10 Home
Windows 10 Pro
Windows 10 Education
Windows 10 Enterprise
Windows 10 Mobile
NT 10.0.10240
Windows 8.117th October 2013Windows 8.1
Windows 8.1 Pro
Windows 8.1 Enterprise
NT 6.3.9600
Windows 826th October 2012Windows 8
Windows 8 Pro
Windows 8 Enterprise
NT 6.2.9200
Windows 722nd October 2009Windows 7 Home Basic
Windows 7 Home Premium
Windows 7 Professional
Windows 7 Enterprise
Windows 7 Ultimate
Windows Thin PC
NT 6.1.7600
Windows Vista30th January 2007Windows Vista Home Premium
Windows Vista Business
Windows Vista Enterprise
Windows Vista Ultimate
NT 6.0.6001
Windows XP Professional x6425th April 2005N/ANT 5.2.3790
Windows XP25th October 2001Windows XP Starter
Windows XP Home
Windows XP Professional
Windows XP 64-bit Edition
NT 5.1.2600
Windows ME14th September 2000N/A4.90.3000
Windows 200017th February 2000ProfessionalNT 5.0.2195
Windows 9825th June 1998Windows 98
Windows 98 Second Edition (23 April 1999)
4.1.2222 A
Windows 9524th August 1995Windows 95
Windows 95 SP1 (31 December 1995)
Windows 95 OSR1 (14 February 1996)
Windows 95 OSR2 (24 August 1996)
Windows 95 USB Supplement to OSR2 (27 August 1997)
Windows 95 OSR2.1 (27 August 1997)
Windows 95 OSR2.5 (26 November 1997)
4.00.950 A
Windows 3.1April 1992Windows 3.1
Windows for Workgroups 3.1 (October 1992)
Windows 3.022nd May 1990N/A-
Windows 2.1113th March 1989Windows/286
Windows 2.1027th May 1988Windows/286
Windows 2.039th December 1987--
Windows 1.04April 1987--
Windows 1.03August 1986--
Windows 1.02May 1986--
Windows 1.0120th November 1985MS-DOS-

Evolution of Windows Operating System At a Glance

Here is an Infographic Summary for History of Windows Operating System

Embed This Image On Your Site (copy code below):

What’s the bottom line?- History of Windows Operating System.

Our predecessors if need to copy a document then they were likely to use a mimeograph or a carbon paper but two young computer passionate Bill Gates and Paul Allen  proved the world that computing is a route to future and thanks to windows that now there is a desktop on every home.