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What is Windows?
Windows (also called Microsoft Windows) is an operating system that is developed and owned by Microsoft. It usually comes pre-installed on most personal computers (PCs) available today. At the end of 2021, the Windows OS proved to be the most popular operating system worldwide, with a market share of 74 percent.
Windows was made popular due to its versatility with regards to handling various applications; like productivity software, editing tools, media players, and so much more. It was considered to be ahead of its time and rivaled Apple’s Macintosh.
Since its release in November 1985, Microsoft has released a multitude of OS versions or editions; the most popular ones include Windows NT (1993), Windows XP (2001), Windows Vista (2007), Windows 7 (2009), Windows 8 (2012), and the latest version, Windows 11 (2021).
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History of Windows Editions
Early Beginnings (Windows 1.0 & 2.0)
In late 1985, Windows 1.0 was released. Its development was spearheaded by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and was an extension of the MS-DOS operating system. It featured components that do simple tasks, like the Calendar, Calculator, Clock, and Control Panel, among others.
Overall, Windows 1.0 was viewed as an incomplete operating system. It opened apps in the form of tiles or non-overlapping frames since it did not support overlapping windows. Nonetheless, it was a great start for its successor, Windows 2.0.
Compared to Windows 1.0, Windows 2.0 was more popular and had significant improvements. It now supported overlapping windows and had a much greater user interface and memory management. In this version, Microsoft also integrated more keyboard shortcuts.
The next significant family of Windows OS versions was related to Windows NT, which was the first 32-bit version of Windows. Initially, it was a revamped version of IBM and Microsoft’s NT OS/2 operating system. The development team was headed by former Digital Equipment Corporation developers, Dave Cutler and Mark Lucovsky.
Since its release in July 1993, the Windows NT had succeeding releases that were popular for workstations and servers. The improvements spanned a decade long, until February 2000, when Microsoft released Windows 2000. Besides newer components, it featured a do-over of the Windows NT to focus more on the growth of their brand, Windows.
Windows XP was the next major edition released by Microsoft in October 2001. It featured big improvements in the user interface, network and multimedia features, compatibility for previous versions, and a remote assistance feature.
It was at this version of Windows that the patented Start menu was introduced. The first version of Internet Explorer, Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) was also released. It had two main editions, the Home edition (for conventional desktops) and the Professional edition (for work and corporate environments).
However, it was suspected of various security flaws and exploits, established by virus and malware attacks. Hence its successor, Windows Vista, focused more on improving the overall security features of the Windows OS line.
As a successor to the Windows 7, Windows 8 featured an introduction of the Metro design language by Microsoft. This operating system was set to be integrated into various modern devices, such as touch-screen phones and tablets.
Microsoft’s cloud service, OneDrive was also a featured part of this edition. The Start Screen was introduced, along with newer applications that were optimized for touch-based devices. Its succeeding versions, Windows 10 and Windows 11, had improvements that were inclined to a more user-friendly system and features.