25 years with Windows: What’s your story?

Anniversary of Version 1.0 release takes us back to the future

This month marks an important landmark in the computer industry – the 25th anniversary of the Windows 1.0 operating system. Love it or loathe it, you can’t deny the significant impact Windows has had on the way we use computers.

The year was 1985. Apple had already wowed the world with the release of the Macintosh the year before, but PC users were already chomping at the bit for the new Windows 1.0 operating system since the limited release of its predecessor, Interface Manager, the previous year.

Sure, it was just a shell operating over DOS and seemed less sleek graphically than its Macintosh counterpart, but look at the colors! And it had Reversi!

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The good, the bad, the kludgy: A brief history of Microsoft OSes

It was a magical time for computer operators. “Back to the Future” had just come out that summer, so we were pretty dazzled by “flux capacitors” and “Mr. Fusion.” But despite having the future thrown at us from all angles, too many of the computer-using population were still doing what they’d always done – entering line commands. For people who were part of a cutting-edge industry, we could be surprisingly set in our ways at times.

So, it took a few versions before Windows really caught on. Then, about the time Microsoft forsook version numbers for release years (if it had been hardware they’d have started using made-up words), people started standing in long lines in the middle of the night to be one of the first to get the newest version. And they have been ever since.

Only now, at the negative-fifth anniversary of the future that Marty McFly and Doc Brown arrive at in Part II, Microsoft has gone back to version numbers, with Windows 7. Heavy.

Please share your experiences with Windows over the past quarter-century, and let us know which of the many flavors you most loved (or hated). We’d like to put them all together before the official anniversary, Nov. 20.


About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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Reader Comments

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 Larry

Windows - a Mac OS wannabe. Always was, always will be. Everytime Windows is "upgraded", most things get worse, not better. MS helped keep Apple afloat a number of years ago - otherwise, where would they get their "ideas"?

Wed, Nov 10, 2010

with each iteration of Windows, I saw performance spiral down. While they compelled the Army to use Windows, I revolted by buying an iMac for home!

Fri, Nov 5, 2010

Kind of like the mother-in-law you love to hate, but not worth divorcing your spouse to get rid of.

Thu, Nov 4, 2010 jim Rome, NY

When it first came out you'd run "win.exe" to start Windows from DOS. But to run mine, I typed "lose" (it was a batch file). IT guys just rolled their eyes. Now I'm running Ubuntu 10.10. No more gates, windows, or barbed wire...

Thu, Nov 4, 2010 Greg Washington, DC

I remember being excited when I got the new DOS 3.3 which came in that nice 3 ring binder in a sleeve. The Microsoft history is all good, in my mind, until Microsoft ruined Office to make it look different from the free Open Office. They threw a wrench in the works just to make it look different. Now some other idiotic companies are following their example assuming there was some logic to it. The previous Office interface was an elegant evolution- the new one is a like a drunken high schooler’s design. Some of us actually use these tools every day in our job and we’re not happy about a clean efficient design being replaced by a gimmicky marketing mess.

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