Windows Vista is going to be released tonight. As I sit here writing this article it is only 3 hours, 3 minutes, 24 seconds before it is unleashed to the general public.
It is times like this I get nostalgic and start thinking of the first time I got my hands on a copy of Windows. I remember when I was a student interning at a local computer store, and DOS was the only game in town. I still thought my Commodore 64 kicked its butt at the time.
They purchased a new demo system – I had to set it up for the sales floor. Yes. They had real sales people on commission back then, and they made a mint selling systems. They wanted me to install Windows. Windows? I said. What the heck is that?
Once I started to play with it I was hooked. It was the first time I wanted to start writing software on the PC instead of my crusty old Commodore.
Little did I know that Windows had been around for quite some time. It started out as an API that third parties could use to develop graphical applications. It was originally called “Interface Manager” (Just think if we called it that today!)
They released the first version of Windows that could display more than one application at a time. It was 1987 – Almost 20 years ago we were introduced to Windows 2.0
Still – Most applications were still being written for DOS. Microsoft kept plugging away. The 386 processor was released by Intel, and provided a hardware opportunity for real multitasking. People started hearing about Windows 386, which became what we now know as Windows 3.0
Microsoft hit a milestone with 3.0 – Released in early 1990, it sold over 10 million copies. It became the most popular graphical user interface ever made.
Everything really took off with Windows 3.1 – 3 Million copies were sold within the first 2 months of its release.
This is when Windows really took hold and thousands of applications were written for it. For the first time there were more Windows applications being developed than DOS.
Still Windows users looked over at the Mac camp, and they were jealous. Its interface was more polished, and well developed.
The Chicago operating system filled that void. Chicago was the code name for Windows 95. I first saw it in August of 1994. At the time I was a tech fixing Macs, and PCs. I knew what each had to offer – I knew Windows 95 would take over the world.
See – Back then Microsoft had a different philosophy about backward compatibility. I remember hearing a story about a group of Microsoft Employees pulling up to a computer store in a U-Haul. They walked in and purchased 1 copy of every software title in the store! They took them all back to the MS testing labs, and made sure that each one worked with Chicago. If it didn’t, they put special detection code to make sure it did. I don’t think one of those stuffy committees within Microsoft would allow them to do the same with Vista today.
With great fanfare Windows 95 was released in August of 95. Yes, I was one of those losers waiting in line for a copy at 11 O’clock at night.
In the mean time, Windows NT was evolving in the corporate world. It wasn’t really until Windows 2000 that consumers got a taste of this much more powerful operating system.
Microsoft had made a few fumbles along the way. After Windows 98, they released Windows ME – an abomination!
The most horrible software ever released by Microsoft. It gave tech support people heartburn, headaches, explosive diarrhea, and sleepless nights all at the same time.
Finally, in 2001 – Microsoft was able to bridge the gap, and close the books on the Win 9x line of the operating system. Windows NT was now at the core of their flagship consumer operating system – Windows XP.
Windows XP has been extremely popular. Last check – 80% of Windows based PCs are running Windows XP. We have waited for almost six years for a new version of Windows. The time is now.
Microsoft – its been a great ride so far. I hope Vista can live up to all of its promises.
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