Another year, another post. This particular segment focuses on end user Windows operating systems, specifically on an abridged Windows history.

I may do a post on Windows server history, but I don't really have plans to do so. Here's a trip down memory lane for some of you. For the rest of you, see how far Windows has come!

Windows 1.01

Windows 1.01 Boot Screen

Release Support Until System Requirements Facts
November 20, 1985 December 31, 2001 CGA/Hercules/EGA, 256 KB RAM, 2 double-sided disk drives/hard drive, and MS-DOS 2.0 Starting off Windows history with a design to be a complete operating system, instead of a graphics environment for application use. Included device drivers for mouse, keyboards, printers, video cards, printers, and serial communications. Latest stable release was 1.04.

Windows 1.01 Desktop

Windows 2.03

Windows 2.03 Boot Screen

Release Support Until System Requirements Facts
December 9, 1987 December 31, 2001 graphics-adapter card, 512KB RAM, 2 double-sided disk drives/hard disk, and MS-DOS 3.0 Minimize and maximize window control debut. The windows can now overlap instead of tiling the way they did in Windows 1. Latest stable release was 2.11. The 2.1x editions were released to take advantage of the Intel processors (286/386).

Windows 2.03 Desktop

Windows 3.1

Windows 3.1 Boot Screen

Release Support Until System Requirements Facts
April 6, 1992 December 31, 2001 EGA/VGA/SVGA/XGA/8514/A/Hercules video card, IBM compatible 80286 or higher (386 recommended), 640K Conventional memory, 256K extended memory (XMS v 2.0 or higher), 1024K extended memory recommended on 80286, 2048K extended memory recommended on 80386, 5.25-inch high density drive/3.5-inch floppy drive, fixed drive with 6 megabytes free (10 megabytes recommended), mouse recommended, and MS-DOS 3.1 Windows 3.0 had compatibility with Windows 1 and 2 applications through its real mode. Windows 3.1 dropped real mode and improved stability. File Manager and Program Manager come pre-installed. Text is now displayed in The truetype font. This is the first generation of Windows that we started to see blue screens of death. Blue screens are caused by faulty drivers, hardware failure, corrupt registry, DLL problems, overheating issues, etc. The last stable release was 3.11.

Windows 3.1 Desktop

Windows 95

Windows 95 Boot Screen

Release Support Until System Requirements Facts
August 24, 1995 December 31, 2001 VGA or higher resolution (256-color SVGA recommended), 386DX or higher processor (486 recommended), 4 MB RAM 8 MB recommended, 55 MB hard disk space (upgrade: 40 MB), 3.5-inch high-density floppy disk drive Improved GUI, improved application support, Windows Update debut, Internet Explorer 4, Start button and taskbar debut, USB support in 1997 through Windows Update. This version hit mainstream market. The last stable release was 4.0.

Windows 95 Desktop

Windows 98

Windows 98 Boot Screen

Release Support Until System Requirements Facts
June 25, 1998 July 11th, 2006 VGA or higher resolution (16-bit or 24-bit color SVGA recommended), 486DX 66 MHz or faster processor (Pentium recommended), 16 MB of memory, 195 MB hard drive space, and 3.5-inch high-density floppy disk drive Improved USB support, Internet Explorer 5, Internet Connection Sharing (PCs on LAN to share a single Internet connection through NAT), integrated support for DVD-ROM drives, Plug and Play debut, and Disk Defragmenter/Msconfig/Sysedit/ScanDisk programs make their debut. This is a more fleshed out version of Windows 95. Latest stable release was 4.10 build 2222 (98 Second Edition).

Windows 98 Desktop

Windows ME

Windows ME Boot Screen

Release Support Until System Requirements Facts
September 14, 2000 July 11th, 2006 Minimum: 150 MHz Pentium or compatible processor, 320 megabytes of free hard drive space and a minimum of 32 megabytes of RAM. Recommended: Pentium II 300 MHz with 96 megabytes of RAM and 2 gb of free hard drive space. (Windows Me Setup application features an undocumented “/nm” switch which tells setup to ignore hardware requirements). Compared to the other versions of Windows, Windows ME had a short shelf-life of just over a year. Fast boot times were achieved by restricting access to real mode DOS. There were many stability issues. PC World wrote about users reporting problems installing it, getting it to run, getting it to work with other hardware and applications, and getting it to stop running. The Internet Explorer version was 5.5 and the latest stable release was 4.90.

Windows ME Desktop

Windows 2000

Windows 2000 Boot Screen

Release Support Until System Requirements Facts
February 17, 2000 July 13, 2010 Pentium 133 MHz, 32 MB RAM, 1GB hard drive space, 800×600 VGA or better, and a keyboard and mouse. 4 editions released (2000 Professional, Server, Advanced Server, and Datacenter Server), DirectX 7 comes pre-installed, Device manager debut, Recovery Console debut, Internet Explorer 5.5 (6 after upgrade). Windows 2000 was primarily focused on the business user. Latest stable release was 5.0. There are 4 service packs (up to SP4).

Windows 2000 Desktop

Windows XP

Windows XP Boot Screen

Release Support Until System Requirements Facts
October 25, 2001 April 14, 2009, April 8, 2014 for extended support Minimum: 233 MHz processor, 64 MB RAM, Super VGA (800 x 600), 1.5 GB of free hard drive space, CD drive, mouse and a keyboard. Recommended: A processor of 300 MHz or higher and 128 MB RAM or higher Windows XP became one of the most stable and efficient version of Windows besides Windows 98 SE. The GUI was redesigned and became more user friendly. The Program Compatibility Wizard allowed older applications to be used. The versions of XP are Home, Professional, Media Center, 64 bit and Tablet. Windows XP is the most widely supported version of Windows from Microsoft and other application developers. The service packs (up to SP3) improved security and usability features. Since XP was so popular, arguably the most popular in Windows history, it took another 6 years for another edition of Windows to come out. The latest stable release is 5.1 and the Internet explorer version is 6 (upgradable to 7).

Windows XP Desktop

Windows Vista

Windows Vista Boot Screen

Release Support Until System Requirements Facts
January 30, 2007 April 10, 2012, April 11, 2017 for extended support 800 MHz CPU, 512 MB RAM, DirectX9.0 64MB capable graphics card, 40GB of hard drive space, and a DVD drive to install the OS. First major change in windows since XP. Another GUI change to improve display and functionality. User Account Control makes its debut, as well as Windows Aero. Additional features such as Windows defender, Windows Sidebar, and a redesigned search component. New digital rights management technologies also surface. Many XP programs and applications are not compatible. The editions of Vista are Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate. A 32-bit and 64-bit version of Windows is available for editions “Home Basic” and beyond. There are 2 major service packs (SP2 is current). The latest stable release is 6.0 and the Internet Explorer Version is 7. This version of Windows was highly criticized, probably being the worst rated in Windows history. Many people refer to this version as the sequel to Windows ME.

Windows Vista Desktop

Windows 7

Windows 7 Boot Screen

Release Support Until System Requirements Facts
October 22, 2009 January 13, 2015, extended support until January 14, 2020 1 GHz CPU, 1GB RAM, DirectX9 capable graphics card, 16GB of free hard drive space, and a DVD drive to install OS from DVD. Incremental upgrade over Vista, however there are a few GUI and stability changes. This is essentially Vista, the “we're sorry edition.” The editions of Windows 7 are Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise. All editions except for Starter are available in 32-bit and 64-bit architecture. Jump lists make their debut, as well as Windows 7 live thumbnails. You can pin programs to the taskbar, replacing the quick launch component. There is also a Windows XP mode through Windows Virtual PC. The Internet Explorer version is 8 (upgradable to 11) and the latest stable release is 6.1.7601. There is 1 service pack.

Windows 7 Desktop

Windows 8

Windows 8 Boot Screen

Release Support Until System Requirements Facts
October 26, 2012 January 9, 2018, extended support until January 10, 2023 1 GHz CPU, 2 GB RAM, DirectX 9 with 1024×768 display capable graphics card, 20GB of hard drive space, and a keyboard and mouse. Windows 8 brought major changes. There is a focus on tablets and touch devices. The Start button has been removed. There is a greater Xbox 360 and Xbox One (Live) integration. The GUI is completely different and now there is an integrated store. The editions are Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, Windows RT, and Windows 8 Enterprise. The first major update is Windows 8.1. The Internet Explorer version is 10 and the current stable release is 6.3.9600.

Windows 8 Metro

Windows 10 – Coming Soon

Even abridged Windows history is still pretty long. What additions do you like the most over the years?

What flavor of windows do you detest? For me I think I dislike Vista the most. May Millennium Edition as a close second.

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