back to article Windows hits 25

November 20, 1985, saw the launch of Microsoft Windows 1.01, the first publicly released version. Of course it was late. Microsoft boss Bill Gates announced Windows in 1983, promising release by the end of 1984, perhaps to counter VisiCorp's VisiON, an alternative PC graphical application manager that launched in December 1983 …


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  1. LDS Silver badge

    About OS/2 apps and Windows security

    It is not really true that Lotus, Ashton-Tate and WordPerfect focused on OS/2. They yes, released something, but was little of of poor quality. I bought in 1994 a PC with OS/2 3.0, and found myself using Windows 3.1 applications. The promised Lotus Smartsuite for OS/2, for example, never materialized. And the Windows version was really ugly compared to MS Office 6. Without applications, and with some rough edges still, OS/2 was doomed despite some nice features.

    Windows started to become a much more secure system since Windows 2000, if users and especially developers had started to use it the proper way. The real mistake was not to enforce it since the beginning. I still see developers using Vista and 7 stubbornly trying to bypass security to write in protected directories, just because they don't want to change old habits. It is true that a lot of businesses relies on a lot of old, bad written code, but MS should really start to enforce security instead of hoping end users will understand it. Apple had the advantage its user have not those large heritage of legacy applications to run.

    But although the spotlights are on web or mobile apps, your desktop OS is not going to go away anytime soon. My guess is that in 25 years there will be still a Windows on your system. And when mobile device will become more powerful, they will ditch limited OSes and move to full ones supporting much more features.

    1. Steven Hunter

      SmartSuite on OS/2

      Lotus DID release SmartSuite for OS/2, somewhere around '98 or '99. I know because I bought a copy in college to replace my old old old (old) copy of Word for Windows 2.0. The interface was basically about the same as Office 2000 for Windows, but it had that 90's Lotus-y feel to it.

  2. mantavani

    What about Windows 2000?

    W2K - the unloved and forgotten brother in the Windows world... but still an important step towards XP, tying 9x and NT together.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      w2k still used by me

      w2k was the last MS OS I paid for, though I have XP at work as well. To me, w2k really was NT4 but with USB working.

      ME was a botch, a complete waste, and XP really was just w2k with more GUI features.

      w95/98 are really different to NT4/w2k/XP as they are a mix of 16 & 32 bit subsystems with piss-poor protection along the lines of Windows 3.11

      To be honest, there is little real OS progress from NT4 to w7, a bit of protection added, some polish, but nothing really exciting. These days I use Windows in a VM under Linux, gives me software compatibility for odd CAD stuff but with much better security.

      1. N2 Silver badge

        & w2k still used by me

        On a daily basis, It does a good job too,

        Unlike some of the later variants that have heaps of irritating bloat.

      2. Michael C

        ME was the vendor's fault

        ME was not technically a new OS. Unfortunately, all the vendors played i to be, and used it to sell hardware to people that didn;t need or want it, and who would never use ME for what it was designed for.

        ME was essentially little more than 98SE with some plus pack additions, and a few underlying changes from lessons learned, but the real deal was all the multimedia editions on top. You could call it the first MediaCenter edition if you like. That's what it was designed to be. It did not replace Windows 98SE, it was to be sold complementary to it, as an upgrade if you wanted to use media on your PC more than just playing a CD.

        ME required more hardware than most people had access to. It was put on machines under-configured to run it to keep pricing competitive. Microsoft's only failing was not getting out in control of the situation, but with 2K coming out, and XP already in development, they didn't want to piss off their partners.

        On a properly built machine, ME was as good as if not better than 98. On the same hardware as 98, it was abysmal...

        1. Ammaross Danan


          Last I checked, the only reason to upgrade to ME over 98SE was because ME actually shut down properly most of the time. 98 and 98SE more often than not wouldn't actually shut down, but rather just hang at the shut down screen (no, not the "now safe to turn off your computer" screen).

        2. asdf

          nice try Bill G.

          Blame partners all you want but we all know Windows ME was a top 5 IT product EPIC FAIL as was Windows ME SE (Vista). Thats not to say all M$ products are horrible but they have laid some real stinkers over the years and ME may well be the worse OS for its time as a large serious commercial product in the history of computing.

    2. Kevin 6
      Thumb Up

      Here here

      I miss win 2k. I only upgraded to XP to run StarCraft 2.

      Win 7 I'm skipping unless they add in the classic start menu(like the beta had, and no I'm not buying a 3rd party app that half ass recreates it), and if the next windows gets even crappier(more mac like) probably will go Linux once nothing no longer works on XP.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        I miss it - but I still have it.

        I have a VM of an old development machine and it's a joy to use. The desktop does what I want, only what I want and only when I need it. During startup I can navigate the start menu without fear of it vanishing just before I go to click on an icon. Focus stays where ever I last put it. If I click on a text box it just puts the cursor where I clicked instead of selecting the entire contents.

        Anything later than Win2k (basically Active Desktop as it was called) just gets in the way. Seems like I spend half my time fighting the computer.

      2. Michael C


        The new start menu is one of the best things about 7's UI changes. Forget managing how your programs appear in the start menu and just type a few characters of the program name and it shows up. Much easier than having half your screen covered by a list of folders. If you want to see all that crap, its easily configured anyway. If you really dislike it, Classic Shell and other apps are out there freely that can easily configure the menu to look exactly like XP. Did i say Free? yes. Took me 2 seconds to find 3 of them.

        Why would you give up on the power, features, device access, security, backups, management, performance, and more of Windows 7 just because you don't like what can easily and freely be changed?

        Actual reasons to stick with XP:

        - Your hardware is outdated, even by current generation XP standards, or has no hardware features that Win 7 improves on (DX10/11? Pretty important improvements for startcraft 2). It its at least a lowest end Core Duo and can support 2GB of RAM, you probably can upgrade, it might even run FASTER (7 outperforms XP in many cases on older hardware).

        - You're planning on getting a new machine soon anyway (say, within 6 months), and don't want to upgrade the current one.

        - You have legacy apps that only run under XP or earlier, and you don't know enough about OS in general to install and use VirtualXP and don;t feel like reading a short manual. Note i did not say you can't run 7 if you have legacy apps, just that you might not want too if you lack the knowledge or will to have that knowledge.

        - You can't afford a copy of the OS.

        - You're planning on switching to Mac. (even then, 7 runs great in either a Mac VM or Boot Camp).

        - Your company policy is not up to speed yet, and they're sticking with XP until June when they have their 2K8 domain, Central AV, monitoring, and SSDM/SSCM up to date and ready for rollout.

    3. Penguin herder
      Gates Horns

      RE: What about Windows 2000?

      "W2K - the unloved and forgotten brother in the Windows world... but still an important step towards XP, tying 9x and NT together."

      You are not alone in seeing it that way, but I consider XP to be a step backwards from 2k. Not only did it bring the Fisher Price desktop theme, XP was where they started changing things that really worked.

      One good thing about XP: when I saw how ugly it was out of the box and the activation scheme, I started ramping up my escape plans.

    4. wibbilus maximus


      "but still an important step towards XP, tying 9x and NT together."

      not quite. W2k was supposed to tie 9x and NT together but it didn't do it well enough for people using 95/98 to upgrade to it. Many applications (mostly games) wouldn't work on it and it was for that reason that Microsoft inflicted ME on us all. It was considered the upgrade route for people running 98. XP had lots of problems when it came out, and that was mostly because it was rushed out to replace ME, but it did do what w2k failed to do, it united the 9x and NT bases together.

  3. George 24

    happy birthday

    And to celebrate twenty five years, I finally removed the dual boot from my laptop and run 100% Linux. Long live windows, still one of the best around.

  4. Gareth Gouldstone

    Simple Times

    "At the time Windows was not intended to be networked - the only nod to connectivity was a simple terminal application - so it seemed unimportant."

    Connectivity WAS unimportant - PC networking was barely heard of. Remember IBM PC LAN Program? Torus Tapestry? They were just being released, and took so much memory that you couldn't have loaded Windows at the same time, anyway!

    Dial up modems? Acoustic couplers for your landline handset were the order of the day.

    Security? That would be the lock on the office door, then,

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      So true

      I remember my first network - I had to install it. Ten Base T. After you'd loaded all the TSRs and drivers you had about 100kB left. Even those days it was pitifully small - I remember the MD pressuring me to try and work out how to get WordStar to run in that :)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    "An OS even Microsoft couldn't botch"


  6. BillyIdol
    Paris Hilton

    We've come a long way, but there's still annoyances

    This reminds me of times gone past. From battling with EMM386 to having to BUY a TCP/IP stack for Windows (Chameleon) right through to the vastly improved Server core 2008.

    I still have some gripes of course; Windows 7 has removed the classic start menu. This is a big deal for some of the older people I help with PCs. You can call them stubborn, ignorant, annoying whatever, but the fact still remains that they don't want too much of a change. I can add a classic menu, but "it's just not the same" in their words.

    As for server editions, Powershell and the Exchange Management shell are excellent. Finally having some REAL power is a good thing when business demands exchange server over Linux, but having the ability to run exchange on server core would make it much better. Don't see that happening anytime soon.

    For the record, I'm a Windows/Linux admin day to day. Not an M$ fanboi, but credit where it is due.

    Paris, because her emails would be worth monitoring for "quality assurance purposes".

    1. Rob Moir

      Start menu changes

      "You can call them stubborn, ignorant, annoying whatever, but the fact still remains that they don't want too much of a change. I can add a classic menu, but "it's just not the same" in their words."

      I wouldn't presume to call someone stubborn or ignorant or anything else for disliking changes to something they know works well, but it's interesting that Microsoft are *at the same time* both derided for never abandoning backwards compatibility and never making real changes to their OS; and at the same time derided for making changes and abandoning backwards compatibility.

      I dislike change for the sake of change myself, but if you're going to get slammed no matter what, you might as well just do what you think is best and to hell with the critics.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm not sure this article's title is quite right

    as it reads more like "Windows hits 25 despite being riddled with Microsoft botches from the outset"

  8. Anonymous Coward

    "likely be less Windows-shaped than the 25 just past"

    "The next 25 years will likely be less Windows-shaped than the 25 just past."

    Unbeliever! BURN HIM! Withdraw his MCSE certification! Cancel his ticket to PDC! [Even though there is absolutely no doubt at all that he is of course right, there will be some that don't like it]

    1. thecakeis(not)alie

      Those that don't like it

      can just unfriend him on facebook.

      I think that the two groups of fanboys are cognate.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    original DOS = bodged CPM86

    All the microcomputer based disk filing systems were attempts to emulate UNIX on hardware far below the existing UNIX specification.

    The way I heard the story of MSDOS was that Bill has BSed IBM that he made a working OS but when they gave him the contract he had to run down to the local UNI to see if they had anything running on 8086. IBM had only decided to make a business microcomputer because Apple and Visicalc were making so much money so they cobbled the specification out of the parts they had lying around after a telephone exchange project.

    The IBM PC was never so much as designed, rather bits of mismatched hardware and software were thrown together at the last minute and it only sold because IBM put their name on it.

    Since then Billions has been spent bolting on enhancements to get the hardware and software to work at a reasonable speed.

    It is just a shame that they didn't spend that money on pretty much any of the other microcomputers around at the same time as the PC. If they had then now we would have something far in excess of what M$ and Intel cobble together.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Gates Halo

      AC @16.13

      "The way I heard the story of MSDOS was that Bill has BSed IBM that he made a working OS but when they gave him the contract he had to run down to the local UNI to see if they had anything running on 8086."

      Not quite. IBM were going to use CP/M but couldn't agree with license condtions with DR.

      Gates went to Seattle Computing and bought "Quick & Dirty DOS" for US $50,000; and went to IBM with it. The designer, Tim Paterson, was later hired by Micro-Soft (sic).

      Seattle Computing later said in court that Gates hadn't mentioned IBM to them during their talks to keep the price down, and MS paid an extra US $1 million.

      As the license wasn't exclusive to IBM, MS were able to sell elsewhere (PC-DOS & MS-DOS).

    2. westlake

      Good enough for government work.

      >>is just a shame that they didn't spend that money on pretty much any of the other microcomputers around at the same time as the PC. If they had then now we would have something far in excess of what M$ and Intel cobble together.<<

      Microsoft's first hardware product was the CP/M Z-80 Softcard for the Apple II. CP/M was the OS of choice for business.

      That there was a huge market soon to open up for 16 bit CP/M or a serviceable 16 bit CP/M clone wasn't lost on anyone.

      Microsoft held a very strong hand to play in its suite of programming languages for the CP/M - BASIC, COLBOL, FORTAN, PASCAL and so on.

      The IBM and IBM PC-Clone became the definitive desktop PC:

      It was affordable.

      Built from commodity parts - including the $40 PC-OS - and based on a modular design that allowed easy hardware upgrades.

      It had a proper external keyboard and a separate "full-sized" 80 column monitor.

      Pefection comes at a price. You get the Lisa, which no one can afford to buy or the Amiga, which no one knows how to sell -

      at least not in the numbers which will keep you in business.

    3. Tom 13

      Not so much parts laying aroung, just not a lot of design budget at the Boca Raton

      office, so they built it out of standard parts instead of designing some spiffy component IBM could patent and make money from. It was designed, it was tested, and it ran well for where the industry was at that time. But the off-the-shelf components decision was the key one. One without which Microsoft would not be the company they are today. It was that decision which led to the Compaq clones, which even included specific known bugs from the IBM design. Once Compaq established the legal precedent that companies did not have to have licensing agreements with Microsoft, the foundation was laid for the commodity PC market.

  10. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Kind of summerises it.

    I must agree with the author in this, but there are more details that should be included, such as:

    The dumb-fu*k move to make the web browser an "OS component" (Win95) and the years of problems that caused.

    The move in NT away from good design to put the graphics system in to the kernel space for better performance (NT 3.51 to 4.0 was it?), and the loss of stability it caused (BSOD on lots of things that would otherwise been trapped/recoverable).

    And of course the nauseating business of DRM that began with XP and hogged Vista's performance:

    Yes, they may have polished the turd quite well with Windows 7, but as the author pointed out, the times are a-changing for OS, and the malware situation makes Windows so much less attractive these days.

    Tux! At least the sucky-ness of Linux going wrong is at least under MY control, and it lets me do as I please.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Mistakes you left out

      "The dumb-fu*k move to make the web browser an "OS component" (Win95) and the years of problems that caused."

      Only if you call user-land libraries "OS components". There are no kernel-mode components to IE and never have been. (Microsoft's suggestion that IE was inseparable from the OS was untrue, as they later demonstrated, and was arguably perjury because it was obviously untrue.)

      For Win95, Microsoft *did* introduce a DLL for handling HTML and IE is a very thin wrapper EXE around that DLL. Handling HTML is a sufficiently common task that if MS hadn't invented such a library others would have done. You can hardly criticise them for encouraging component re-use. I imagine your average Linux distro would be rather impoverished if you removed all the shared libraries.

      "The move in NT away from good design to put the graphics system in to the kernel space for better performance (NT 3.51 to 4.0 was it?), and the loss of stability it caused (BSOD on lots of things that would otherwise been trapped/recoverable)."

      Another myth, I'm afraid. NT3.x was not a micro-kernel and was not Unix. Crashes in GDI and USER (the two components that moved into the executive, which itself already contained much more than the kernel) were always fatal to the OS because the session manager would commit harakiri if they occurred, so there was no loss of stability. The BSODs you are thinking of were probably caused by buggy device drivers from big-name vendors like HP and ATI. Yeah, there were lots of those. Given the choice between the latest and greatest driver that came with the hardware and an older driver from Microsoft that was compatible with that family of hardware, it was *always* a better idea to stick with the MS driver. (Sadly you didn't always get the choice.)

      "And of course the nauseating business of DRM that began with XP and hogged Vista's performance"

      I'll give you that one. :)

      1. Rob Moir

        In the spirit of this comment about OS making HTML library available to apps

        It's interesting that I updated Safari on my Mac this morning before setting off to work, and it told me that a reboot of the whole OS was needed.

        So were Microsoft ahead of their time, or are Apple repeating some of Microsoft's mistakes on the desktop in much the same way that Windows smartphone 7 (or whatever its called) is much like the iOS of 3 years ago including leaving out things like cut and paste.

      2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        IE & system level code

        OK, maybe IE was never a true kernel mode component, but why could it not be updated without a reboot? And why when compromised (a sadly common event) was it so capable of privilege escalation?

        Given how much business & gov are stupidly tied in to IE6-only intranet (due to MS' non-standard design and piss-poor coding/contracts, etc), one reason for the sluggish move from XP to Vista/7 is this single issue. So why could they never make IE6 a stand-along product to plug that gap?

        Indeed, why did MS struggle so badly to make IE7/8 correctly render IE6-based sites? And why was IE7/8 never possible for w2k even when it was still a supported OS?

        I smell deep & murkey coding practices.

  11. dreamingspire
    Thumb Up

    The day when MS was really helpful

    In the mid-90s I was running a business that needed to develop a wide screen video driver for Win95, but something in the OS kept trashing the parameters that we set - you could only have the video formats wot MS defined. Then along came an SR update with a lovely new driver development kit. Unfortunately the big set of MS Developer Network CDs didn't include the dev kit. Cue phone calls to the USA, payment of about $40, and many hours of overnight tuition of our programmer by phone. Bingo!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MS-DOS was it

    I think MS-DOS was the closest Microsucks ever came to delivering a decent O/S. It's been all down hill since then. I doubt that Microsucks could deliver a worse O/S than the current offerings, if they actually tried. Never in history has sellect defective goods been so profitable.

    1. Quxy


      DOS ... is still a real mode only non-reentrant interrupt handler, and always will be.

      --Russell Williams

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Couldn't do worse?

      "I doubt that Microsucks could deliver a worse O/S than the current offerings, if they actually tried."

      I challenge that assertion!

      I'm not aware of any respect in which Vista doesn't suck more than Win7.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      i want to learn how to make THAT amount of money running down hill...

    4. AndrueC Silver badge



      Their family of operating systems and their applications almost single-handedly launched then supported the growth of personal computing from a hobbyist/corporate niche to something that is almost as ubiquitous as the Television.

      It and its offspring has faults but they still account for far away the largest majority of software running on personal computers. Despite all the years and hype of Linux. Despite even the fact that its free - it's still only a minority OS.

      If you're trying to be an advocate for penguin land I suggest you stop with the name calling and learn what 'sucks' mean. It does not apply to one of the biggest and most successful companies in the world.

  13. copsewood

    Xerox Parc invented windows and mice

    I was using an X-Windows based system on an Apollo workstation (Domain OS) in 1986 which was much more like a modern windowing interface than what could be done on PC or MAC hardware of the time costing a tenth as much. The first multiwindowing Apple released around the same time looked very primitive in comparison. I was surprised that Apple were able successfully to sue DR's GEM considering the prior art in use on Unix based workstations.

    1. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit


      Mmmm Apollo Workstations, now there was a serious piece of kit. I used them in the late 80s for schematic design, I have no idea what the software was. 24" CRTs with 1600x1200 or thereabouts resolution. Proper working network with your bulk storage off the local machine and the ability to send a print/plot to any machine in the building, all backed up by those nice people in the IT dept. Bourne shells, Kourne shells, CReePing other departments machines to pinch their faster CPU cycles and seeing how many of the site mainfraims, minis, HP networks and so on I could recursively log on to from one chair via telnet. Fun times. Oh, I nearly forgot usenet news and email.

      After I left that job to go to Uni I encountered so many people spouting forth on these wonderful things called PCs. What a heap of poo they were with their 14 or 15 inch goldfish bowl screens compared to what I was used to. An Archimedes was a bit more expensive but knocked the living shite out of a PC in so many ways, if only I could have afforded one. My BBC micro kicked a PCs arse for several applications, boot up and into wordwise in under a second - yummy (hold down w as you switch on iirc). About half way through higher ed the 486 came out and a screen refresh in OrCad dropped under a minute all be it at a poxy 640x480 resolution. A PC had potential at last and in my final year of Uni I took the plunge.

      A year or so after I was back at work 3.11 came out (networking), then NT (proper log on), Demon Internet, Nvidia and ATI started producing decent graphics cards and then Win2k arrived. At that point PC hardware had finally caught up with an Apollo from over a decade earlier. In look and feel only, it never will in quality and reliability.

      Schematic capture still hasn't caught up IMO. I'm yet to find any suite that matches the Apollo software for completeness, ease of use and aesthetic gorgeousness.

      Thanks for the trip down memory lane Mr Corpsewood.

      1. Smallbrainfield
        Thumb Up

        Apollo Workstations!

        Wowsers, I used an Apollo network at Sheffield Polytechnic at the arse end of the 80s. They were running Autocad and CGAL. They were superb machines and it was always a nice warm room due to the massive CRTs. Always a bonus for poor students facing a walk home in the snow to a flat with ice on the inside of the windows.

  14. SIGTERMer

    Wait.. what?

    "Oracle Virtual Box"

    I needed to reread that part several times before i could get it in my head. i think the fact that oracle bought sun is just stating to sink in...

    1. prathlev

      Yeah wait a minute...

      Ah, so *that's* what the author meant, "Sun VirtualBox". Oh wait, ^W^W^W^W^W^WOracle VirtualBox" of course. And I'm using VirtualBox something like every other day.

    2. F Seiler


      While i understood what he meant the first time, it severly stalled my reading for a moment - during which i wondered whether el reg at least receives money for mentioning the name of the new owner whose almost-screen-sized logo now on the installer seems to me like the so far only contribution to virtualbox.

  15. irrelevant
    Thumb Down


    Ah, Windows Me. The Vista of the 1990s ... Hated by everybody... No wonder XP had such a take-up. Mind you, Windows 2000 was pretty decent.

    As for Windows 7 ... What the hell have they done with Explorer? If you are used to running detailed view and navigating with keypresses, it's a nightmare. Many of the shortcuts have gone, information has been removed from the status bar, and changing folders doesn't refresh the contents pane. I've been running Win7 for six months now, and I still hate it...

  16. Alain

    Dave Cutler was from DEC!

    Shame on you Reg for mixing up Digital Equipment Corp, makers of the famous PDP and VAX (and later the ill-fated Alpha processor, killed by Compaq when they bought them) with Digital Research, a software company (aforementioned in the article).

    Dave Cutler was the main architect for RSX and later VMS. He was hired to make a real operating system out of Windows, actually something completely different from the DOS GUI and task dispatcher it was. Rewritten from scratch, it became Windows NT. Unsuprisingly, Windows NT's internals were heavily based on the same concepts as VMS. Some internal data structures even had the same names. We all know the old joke about W.N.T. being V.M.S. + 1 letter in the alphabet don't we?

    1. Drewc (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Dave Cutler was from DEC!

      Thanks for the catch - and to others who spotted this mistake.


    2. SE

      title? it's a comment.

      "We all know the old joke about W.N.T. being V.M.S. + 1 letter in the alphabet don't we?"

      ... like HAL and IBM. No such thing as a coincidence.

  17. Spanners Silver badge

    How did Windows do so well?

    Working in IT support more than 20 years ago, I was regularly asked if Windows was a good thing. Like others I said that it was not a great idea - poor design, poor standards and poor implimentation of them.

    How did it catch on?

    Management mind share. Microsoft never even tried to convince people at the 'sharp end'. They spent huge ammounts of advertising convincing management that this was the way forward..

    Windows did not become so common because of its superiority. It got into business because MS had persuaded the people at the top. They then set the policies and that was it...

    Oddly, they did not succeed in some areas where Apple was a better visual fit - creative industries, They also never caught on amongst the people who were building the internet. Perhaps their management actually understood what they were in charge of?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Gates Halo

      RE - How did Windows do so well?

      Every computer you sell has to be licensed for Windows or we don't sell you all.

      Every advert you run has to contain the words "X recommends MS Windows".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Decision makers and users

      Windows succeeded where it did and how it did because the people who BOUGHT the machines rarely had to USE them. In the early years, the decision makers had secretaries do their typing and lesser people doing their number crunching. If they had actually be forced to USE the machines that they bought, things would have been quite different.

    3. Gav
      Gates Halo

      the alternatives were no good

      >How did it catch on?

      When people asked you if Windows was a good thing, and you rubbished it, did they never ask you what the alternative were? Did you have any answers for them? It caught on because GUIs were the way to go for mass-user computing and the alternatives all had major drawbacks. Simple as that.

      Mac OS was notably superior, but was tied to the expensive hardware. OS/2 was bloatware that need super-specced machines that no-one had.. DESQview was nice, but essentially just a DOS utility for power-users. GEM was also nice, but crippled to oblivion by in order to avoid being sued by Apple. Linux didn't surface until the 1990s, by that time the boat had sailed. And, er, that's it..

      On the other hand; Windows would run on the computer you already had, and was produced by the company whose software you already had. Most companies at the time were on their very first desktops and they were expensive. The idea of replacing them after only 3 years just to update your software would have been regarded as ridiculous.

      The question is not "How did it catch on?" It's "How could it have ever failed?"

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    "Windows NT's internals were heavily based on ..."

    "Windows NT's internals were heavily based on the same concepts as VMS. "


    In reality, there's a fair bit of VMS in there, but by no means all of the VMS kernel internals, and a bit more VAXELN, which was a lightweight and slightly more modern (relative to original VMS) distributed realtime OS which was another Cutler project (but even less famous than VMS, which is why you don't often hear the connection mentioned). (Modern here means it supported trendy capabilities like threads and transparent distributedness long before these capabilities were trendy). This is confirmed in Helen Custer's book "Inside Windows NT".

  19. stucs201

    Ah Windows...

    ...possibly the most sucessful of all DOS programs. :)

  20. beardman

    x86 protected mode

    Oh my... Even the Win95/98 did NOT use x86 protected mode. It only started from winNT.

    1. ByeLaw101

      re: x86 protected mode → #


      Protected mode was implemented in Win 2.x in 386 mode, Win 3.x, Win95 ... onwards.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    oh please don't

    "When sketches of Windows 8 were leaked earlier this year, they were all about slates and app stores, following Apple's example, but this is Apple iOS and Google Android territory where Microsoft may struggle."

    A Linux style repository of Windows software that has been checked out by Microsoft and verified to be of decent quality would be nice. A rubbish app store clone that is effectively a developer free-for-all would not be so nice. How long until it ends up like An apparently trustworthy source of software, mostly full of questionable shit?

    Besides, if Microsoft's main customers are corporate, app stores are going to be of little consequence. Likewise tablet PCs, 99% of the workforce won't have one. Unless they somehow fulfil the needs of the much coveted "paperless office" in which case people will hoover them up. Somehow I think it's going to take more than gimmicks though.

    Someone needs to re-evaluate how we use computers in the 21st century. Does the file/folder metaphor still work for us? If there is one thing everybody on the planet hates doing it's filing. Whoever invents a working and secure alternative will be the next billionaire, I guarantee it.

    1. Mike Flugennock
      Thumb Up

      re: oh please don't

      an Anonymous Coward sez on 11.20.10 @22:48gmt:

      "A Linux style repository of Windows software that has been checked out by Microsoft and verified to be of decent quality would be nice. A rubbish app store clone that is effectively a developer free-for-all would not be so nice. How long until it ends up like An apparently trustworthy source of software, mostly full of questionable shit?"

      Last I looked, CNet still directs readers to for copies of the freeware/shareware apps it reviews. I don't know about the Windoze section, but their MacOS section was still questionable -- full of crap that didn't work as advertised or b0rken, adware, out-of-date versions, or apps that were just plain crap.

    2. Mike Flugennock

      the file/folder metaphor...

      an Anonymous Coward sez on 11.20.10 @22:48gmt:

      "Does the file/folder metaphor still work for us? If there is one thing everybody on the planet hates doing it's filing. Whoever invents a working and secure alternative will be the next billionaire, I guarantee it."

      Once again, I can't speak for Windoze users, but it's worked very well for me under MacOS. Besides the visual metaphor helping me think about how I organize my stuff, it also helped me gain an understanding of how heirarchical file structures worked more quickly than the old directory/subdirectory reference.

      1. blackworx


        Nothing wrong with it to my mind. It's clean, it follows recursive semantics logically and above all it makes sense.

        "Folders" on the other hand do my head in. It's messy, borderline illogical and makes no sense. Why on earth would you have a folder in a folder in a folder in a folder... etc? They'd all burst! It's exactly the sort of namby-pamby paradigm that stops real geeks* from being able to understand what's actually going on.

        * read: "borderline autistic spectrum"

  22. Lord Lien
    Paris Hilton

    Happy Birthday my bug ridden friend.

    You keep me in beer & cheap holidays. As long as I'm alive I want you to stay a bug ridden piece of bloatware that companies seem to be scared to replace. It pays the mortgage ;)

    Paris icon, because even she knows a nice little earner when she sees one :)

    1. Dunhill

      please stay full with bugs

      The %^$^ pays for even more than the mortgage :) .

      but i still can remember how happy i was when i got my copy of Desqview and Qemm and for my own use could stay far away from the first wind-os's

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Windows schmindows

    It was DOSShell (aptly named) that was the great leap forward. Before that, if you couldn't remember / didn't know the exit command (try ctrl - q, alt fx etc etc but there were some weird ones) for the program you were using, you were just SOL.

    With Dos Hell you could switch tasks and perhaps find help or at least get on with something else without doing a hard reset. Alt F4 killed your program, still use it to this day.

    I remember when there were fields round here...

    1. Mike Flugennock

      DOS sHell

      After five or six years of using MacOS exclusively, I went to work at a company where all the copy, spreadsheet data and CorelDraw graphics for the documents we were designing was stored on a networked x86 box running DOS/DOS Shell in an all-Mac graphic design shop. Whenever I had to go to the x86 box to open a WP document to export it to plaintext, or a Corel image to export it to Illustrator for cleanup, I encountered DOS, DOS Shell and/or Windoze 2.ish and my first thought was "Jeezus, how does anybody get any work done with this shit?" I probably spent just as much time trying to remember what magic words I needed to type as I did actually getting anything constructive done.

  24. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Microsoft's failure to enforce?

    "Windows NT has defined locations for operating system files, applications, and user data, but Microsoft failed to enforce them and many developers, used to the lax world of DOS and Windows, went their own way, writing files and data all over the operating system."

    Yeah coz refusing to run a third party's app on the grounds that you've moved the goalposts since it was written won't lose you all your upgrade fees and won't land you in court for anti-trust violations.

    In case you hadn't noticed, MS spent two years developing the successor to XP but had to scrap it because of the difficulties of running legacy software after changing significant amounts of the OS. If they could drop all the broken apps and drivers, and discard the hundreds of app-compat shims that they maintain, they would gladly do so and they would trumpet the resulting transformation in speed and stability. Sadly, they can't, for both commercial and legal reasons.

    Steve Jobs does not have the legal liabilities of legacy software, and does have customers who don't mind re-buying their possessions on a regular basis , so he's tried to enforce his standards with an iron fist. He's got a small number of third-party developers willing to play along and 40,000 fart apps. He'd swap places with Bill in an instant.

    1. Paul M 1


      "Legal liabilities of legacy software"? Are you sure about that?

      I don't believe anyone could take issue with MS if they were transparent about the new security requirements and provided an even playing field to all developers.

      They choose to support legacy software for other reasons than legal responsibility.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Legal liabilities

        Yeah, I'm sure about that. Just imagine the next version of Windows doesn't run one of the big name browsers or media players. When challenged, MS point out that "XYZ was always poor programming practice and has been deprecated for 15 years". It *will* end up in court and whatever the rights and wrongs of the case there is always a chance that you will lose. No sane lawyer would recommend taking the risk. You'd be barred from selling that version of Windows and forced to compensate the other side. (That is, you'd lose your own revenue stream and be forced to provide someone else with theirs!)

        "I don't believe anyone could take issue with MS if they were transparent about the new security requirements and provided an even playing field to all developers."

        I didn't think we were talking about *new* security requirements. Windows apps have been blighted by "least privilege" violations since NT 3.1 introduced a security model. Running as a non-administrative user has been clearly documented as best practice in every version of MSDN ever published. APIs to determine the correct directories for various purposes and to launch appropriate applications for arbitrary document types have been around for even longer, and also fully documented. (In fact, since Win64 no longer supports Win16, it is almost true to say that there are no Windows applications out there that pre-date these rules.) Microsoft could enforce those rules tomorrow through a Windows Update patch and no developer could honestly say "we weren't given *years* of warning".

        They won't, though. Say what you like about their programming practices and market savvy, but Microsoft know about lawyers.

        1. Michael C

          Developer Agreement

          Sorry, per the Developer agreement, this is unsupportable in court. Microsoft is not laible for failure of your code to run due to changes in the OS. As a developer, you;re obliged to accept that changes may break your code, especially if you do not conform to recommended practices.

          You're exactly right, we're not talking about enw security requirements, we were talking about back when there was NT (not 15 years of issues), that they did communicate these new recommendations, and they could simply have turned the recommendation into a requirement at their will, and in a SP to NT, locked off access to certain areas of the OS for non-kernel processes and enforced the registry.

          This would have only broken apps for lazy programmers, and meant maybe a few days work to fix it (we're talking file paths here, which should be variables anyway, and easy to change, any maybe some calls to the registry to get them instead of storing them internally.). If you;re talking legacy apps, well, who at Microsoft guaranteed in writing forward compatibility? I never saw that document.

          A court would laugh at this, as would any sane law firm. It is not an anti-trust violation to change something you have a contractual right between you and your devs tyo change!

        2. Paul M 1


          When I refer to "new" requirements I meant for example when Vista came out.

          I'm not saying there wouldn't be a legal case because I'm sure somebody somewhere will have dropped a hat.

          But if Microsoft state the prereqs for the new OS and these are clear and available for all vendors then I don't believe there would be a case to answer.

          And I am very much not a MS supporter, but even I would have sympathy in that case!

    2. Mike Flugennock

      re: Steverino and "legacy software"

      While I can agree that Jobs has gotten really scummy in the past few years, I can't recall having to re-purchase _anything_ except when the time came for major updates to the OS or the hardware -- when going from MacOS 6.x to System 7, and going from "Classic MacOS" to OSX, or when moving from 680x0 to PowerPC, or from PowerPC to Intel.

      Mind you, I'm not one of those people who mindless jump aboard the Upgrade Train, but sooner or later your vendor can't support your old software forever, and shit is going to break. Still, happily, at last report, a copy of my Adobe CS2 package is working quite well on a friend's '09 Intel MacBook.

  25. Scott 9

    Yes, what about Windows 2000?

    Win2K united the NT and 95/98 products lines into "one" type of Windows. The rightly forgotten Windows Me was really just a dressed up 98 with some of the things planned for XP, and CE got buried in the evolution of Windows for handhelds.

    I used 2K was long as I could, but with no driver support and never any 64 bit development it's at the end of it's life. XP to me was where Microsoft realized the effects of market saturation and stopped developing the OS for serious users. We instead got the glitzy interface and emphasis on colors and startup chimes, and multiple versions of the OS that were the same thing with different features enabled. And of course, the activation, the single thing about Windows I've hated the most. It's never done much for serious pirates, but pretty much stopped me building and upgrading computers like I used to. Why keep paying to buy the same thing over and over again? Now I don't even bother, I just buy a Dell with pre-activated Windows on it. My gaming is migrating to consoles,and I keep on Windows because Linux is still a pain to fiddle with.

    But the article is right, the world has changed. Google is the new Microsoft, and mobile handsets are all the rage, which I still have trouble understanding--a laptop does everything better and do we really need to be connected every waking moment? Now everything down to a game console has web connectivity, and often wireless at that. Get on the web and you can do most of what you want.

    Despite the claims the desktop is dead it will still be around---they're bigger and faster, and can be customized. Even with a full decade now of Microsoft shooting itself in the foot Linux and Apple are yet to take it over. What seems to keep corporations and people on Windows is the app and driver support, and how things integrate well.

    But the days of the world we know seem numbered. There's no such thing as a Microsoft fan, most Windows users look at it as more appliance than anything else. I'm not too sure about the latest round of slate/tablet computers, they seem an eternal comeback that just fades away until somebody decides to try again. And there's all the dead ends out there, the Internet Appliances, handheld PC's, and so on. I keep thinking the latest round of dedicated e-readers will also go away, but who knows.

    In the end I agree Windows will keep on for some time, but it will be a part of the ever changing computer market, not the key component that defined it.

    1. Mike Flugennock

      Microsoft, gun, foot

      scott 9 sez on 11.22.10 @ 00:25gmt:

      "Even with a full decade now of Microsoft shooting itself in the foot Linux and Apple are yet to take it over. What seems to keep corporations and people on Windows is the app and driver support, and how things integrate well."

      I can't speak about Linux, but I think the biggest goddamn' mistake Apple made was to stop licensing clone builders. Done right and without Jobs' needless paranoia, a vibrant clone market could've helped MacOS spread more widely, and the hardware competition would've given Apple a kick in the ass to devlop better and cheaper hardware.

      Could've been an epic Win for users, except Jobs got all paranoid n'shit.

      As far as the driver issue goes, I can't remember a single time when I've bought a third-party peripheral -- a printer, a scanner, a digital camera -- that didn't have its own CD enclosed containing a proper set of drivers for MacOS. You run the installer, it puts the driver files where they need to be, and the bad boys _work_. The end. I have yet to meet a Windoze user who didn't have a permanent lump on their head where they were banging it on the desk while trying to get really simple shit like printer or scanner drivers to work.

    2. Penguin herder

      RE: Yes, what about Windows 2000?

      "Now I don't even bother, I just buy a Dell with pre-activated Windows on it. My gaming is migrating to consoles,and I keep on Windows because Linux is still a pain to fiddle with."

      Boot off a Live CD and give Linux another try. Better yet, find an old drive, put it in a new computer and install to the disk. Things have changed.

      "Despite the claims the desktop is dead it will still be around---they're bigger and faster, and can be customized."

      We might reach a point of docking stations to provide extension, and of course the obligatory screen real estate, pointing device and keyboard. Storage already goes with us (I have 20Gb around my neck as I type), and the processing power *might* follow. That said, I agree that the hype about desktops and laptops being dead is just that - hype.

  26. LDS Silver badge

    What makes an OS succesfull is the applications

    It's funny to see many who think iOS is succesful because of its "apps" fail to see that the same is true as well for Windows - and any OS. Only nerds select an OS for its kernel features. Most users select the OS that enables them to perform the task they needs, and that's done through applications, nothing else. DOS first and Windows later was large success because of applications. Microsoft understood it should not only deliver an OS, but they had to deliver some of the applications users needed most. Excel first and the whole Office later were huge reason to use Windows, no matter how good the underlying OS was. Most users don't understand file systems or kernel features - and even security, that's what Linux nerds always fail to understand. IBM made the same mistake with OS/2, deliver the OS but not the apps (they bough Lotus but wasted time to release Windows software noone were going to use anymore instead of OS/2 one). Apple was lucky enough that Adobe delivered great graphic software for its platform, or again it would have been a great OS with no use - something alike the Amiga, but it just got that market share.

    And when Windows had the largest application catalog of all operating systems, it became the dominant OS. People may hate it, people may think MacOSX or Linux are the greatest systems of all, but unless they are hobbyists or can find decent professional tools of other OSes, they are forced to use Windows just because the application they need is Windows. And there are a lot of complex applications that can't become "webapps", and run a lot of businesses. And until everything can be rewritten in HTML5+JS+PHP, or until other OSes become appealing again to attract developers to write the needed applications, Windows will keep on being the OS most people use.

    1. No, I will not fix your computer
      Thumb Up


      The Amiga OS back in 1985 (designed in '82) was so far ahead of windows at the time it's ridiculous, but it wasn't that different from GEM, what set it apart was the hardware, but it was just so good you couldn't really change it quickly without breaking it, so with the PC from multiple manufactures, generic (not good, not clever) interfaces meant flexibility and scaling was easy, the x86 beat the 68k by numbers.

      Part of Windows success was all the hardware manufacturers getting a slice of the pie (and a route that Jobs decided not to take, which carves a niche but means that Mac hardware will never be cheap as Windows, enter the Hackintosh which isn't ever as stable or supportable as a Windows PC).

  27. The Cube

    You missed out how Microsoft torpedoed NT

    The original architecture for NT was perfectly good, NT3.51 was bullet proof, you could pull the video card out whilst it was running and the server would just keep on going.

    Of course as soon as Microsoft found out that they had shipped a usable and reliable version of Windows they had to screw it all up by breaking the underlying rules that made it so good and infecting the kernel with the video driver so that NT Workstation users could play games. Not happy this this act of butchery they then insisted that the server version should also be shafted in order to share code with the desktop version. Since then we have had to rely on the stability of millions of lines of code from countless third parties or face the blue screen of compromised kernel. Of course the result is flaky and leaky but it is really important to have a native video driver on a server....

    Of course Linux has many of the same problems due to their scientologist like logic of refusing to define proper interfaces for hardware drivers and making you compile everything into the kernel...

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: how MS didn't torpedo NT

      "you could pull the video card out whilst it was running and the server would just keep on going."

      Ho ho! Ever tried pulling a card out of its socket whilst the machine was running? For PCI it hangs the system stone dead in an instant. I imagine AGP is similar since the two busses are related. Perhaps someone older than I can comment on ISA cards.

      "they had to screw it all up by breaking the underlying rules that made it so good and infecting the kernel with the video driver."

      Every version of Windows has the video adapter driver in kernel space. (You'd be thinking of the USER and GDI migration, and I debunked *that* myth in an earlier comment.) If you want an OS that only has "headless" stuff in the kernel and which runs as many drivers as it can in user-space, I'm sure others here can name names.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Hot Plug PCI?

        "Ever tried pulling a card out of its socket whilst the machine was running?"

        I haven't personally, but what about those Proliants with Hot Plug PCI that Compaq used to sell (and maybe HP still do) where you could unplug a FAILed (see logo) card and replace it, or add a new one, on the fly??

        Whether the OS software could cope with it in general is a different question, but at an electrical/bus transaction level it's no big issue, and for certain simple/well behaved PCI cards and drivers the OS software doesn't struggle either, surely?

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Windows 1.0

    Is all the proof one needs that MS got where it is today by making anti-competitive deals to screw over their customers. There simply is no other way that any company could have produced that load of crap and survived long enough to make version 2.0. AND versions 2 and 3 would likewise have sunk any company that had to rely on quality to shift their software.

    Microsoft got a free ride to where it is today and continues to display all the lack of actual programming talent that they did 25 years ago. I look forward to the day they file for bankruptcy and every last one of their employees has to look for work with companies that won't take third rate as "good enough".

    The whole computing industry has been held back by MS shining example of how no one is ever held accountable for lousy software. Decades have been lost and today's computers are feeble shadows of the promise that was held out 25 years ago before Gates and his "genius" crapped all over the human race with his antiquated notions of limited resource economics.

    Gates can do what he likes with the Bill and Melinda Gates Reputation Fund, but there's plenty of us that remember what he did to get that money and we'll not be as easily bought off as some third-world country that would have made much more progress from a new Free industrial model than all the handouts even he can fork over.

    Software offered a new way of doing things, a new egalitarian meritocracy where anyone, in America or Africa, could participate in the building of a new world for a fraction of the investment cost needed by old heavy industries. Gates and his like hated that and engaged in everything they could - every form of bribery and lying and cheating - to clamp it down and stamp it down so that they would control the new model and reshape it in the form of the old model that had served their class so well for so long. The old masters of Western Industry happily handed over the mantle to their greedy children, and they followed tradition by giving the poor nothing but charity with strings attached. Gates gives anti-malaria drugs in return for the continued dependency of the most vulnerable people in the world's subservience. It is not a good deal; it stinks.

    So, thanks for 25 years - 25 years of nothing, you god-damned immoral, greedy, shallow, selfish, fake, callous, exploitative, snake-tongued, P-O-S bastard.

    1. Terry Barnes

      Window 1.0

      Maybe they'd have gone bust if Windows was their only product - but it wasn't by a long shot. Especially as people were still buying DOS regardless.

      MS 'won' because their products were just about good enough and sold at a price the market was willing to pay. History is littered with products that were technically better but were beaten in the market by cheaper things that worked nearly as well. Technical superiority isn't enough - else I'd be typing this on an Amiga while hurtling to Manchester on an APT, while listening to my DAT machine.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Some things never change.

    "Despite security features such as a built-in firewall, Windows XP was easy prey for malware." there any MS software that isn't?

    1. Michael C


      There is simple or user-invisible level of OS security capable of saving a system from a stupid user who clicks without reading (or reads without understanding). The only way to ensure users can't install software they should not (aka malware ,virus code, etc) is to make the process of doing that at all take many steps, the very least of which should require permitting escalated privileges by entering a password, not just clicking "yes." Although neither system is perfect, when a Windows user sees a prompt to do something, they generally allow it, even if they did not initiate the cause for the prompt personally; a mac user is asked for a key-chain, password and pauses, and will more often than not cancel it. They're trained to know key-chain access should not be asked for lightly, and never by a website. This makes by itself macs far more secure since the most common infections are user permitted ones...

      Better yet would be to enforce ALL code to install via a localized installer app, not permitting ANY 3rd party integration at all directly to sensitive OS configuration areas, and sign all files installed through said system. Something wants to make a change to your system run at start-up, access a network resource, open a port in the software firewall, or install at all? It should cause a closed system to launch, meet very specific criterion, list itself in all the proper locations, etc. Once installed, being locally signed at install, anything trying to change those files directly would not be able to. THAT is secure. It also ensures a user is informed of anything a program is trying to do/connect-to. Devs will hate having to conform to a locked-in installer model, and it will add a lot of work for small-time programmers, but its a huge step towards security tightening.

  30. Christian Berger

    25 years? I don't think so

    The Windows were known in Germany 38 years ago, just look at the TV appearances from back then:

  31. kororas
    Paris Hilton


    Windows ME not mentioned either? Have you all forgotton that [piece of shit] already?

    I dont blame you.

  32. TeeCee Gold badge


    I vividly recall getting my first copy of OS/2 for evaluation (took some clever wording to get the management to stump up, but I got a copy).

    I lovingly installed it, looking forward to the brave, new world of graphical interfaces to find..........something very like a copy of DOS that didn't work!

    Presentation Manager was an extra cost option. A bloody expensive extra cost option. As in more than the cost of the "O/S" itself. OS/2 went in the bin and stayed there and the later Windows migration became a foregone conclusion. You think M$ are ripoff merchants? They are mere amateurs by comparison to IBM back then.....

    1. Nuke


      If Presentation Manager was an extra cost option you must have been using a very early version of OS/2. I recall that Windows before Win95 was also an extra cost option, and it ran on top of DOS that had to be purchased separately and it cost more than DOS. That seems to have been normal for the time.

      I also recall that when I bought OS/2 v2.0, it *did* include the GUI, *and* a copy of Windows 3.0 that ran in a Virtual Dos Machine under OS/2 supervision. Yet OS/2 still cost less than buying DOS and Windows from MS - far from beeing a rip-off, IBM were selling it at a loss. In those days the OS was bought separately so people were fools not to buy DOS/Windows rather than OS/2. OK, one problem was that OS/2 v2.x needed 8MB of RAM when most PCs were sold with 4Mb.

      IBM did a cheaper version of OS/2 without the Windows code that would use a copy of Windows that you already had, if that is what you wanted. Windows running under OS/2 was more reliable than Windows running itself. But people did not see the point of OS/2 without its own apps. The only significant native OS/2 app I used was the Compuserve portal app, the rest were Windows or DOS.

    2. Terry Barnes


      It went in the bin and stayed in the bin? You need a new cleaner.

  33. AndrueC Silver badge

    Poor old OS/2

    Did a little too much, a little too early. Creativity stifled by IBM and starved by MS as their best developers went to Windows.

    I still have a soft spot for PM. It was a pain until they introduced multiple message queues but I still miss having an object oriented desktop.

    And there I was playing GP3 (or was it GP2?) while downloading messages from Compuserve using the excellent multi-threaded Golden Compass over a 9600 modem. I doubt the Windows competition at the time could do that. Heck - I doubt even Win98 could do it.

    But it's an old story. The best technology doesn't always win. Maybe doesn't often. It's marketing and timing that count.

    I'll down a drink to OS/2 :)

    1. Paul M 1


      Yeah, and you could even format a floppy disk at the same time without your whole computer locking up :-)

      As this is a Windows article and people are getting nostalgic about OS/2, let me just say that my initiation into the GUI web was Mosaic running on OS/2.. Them were the days [sniff]

  34. Lottie
    Thumb Up

    Thanks Windows

    Back int he day I did my CLAIT exam at school on Caxton, a DOS based word processor. When a rep for the local college came in on "career day" he had a very clunky, early laptop running windows and Excel. It looked so wicked that it reawakened my love of computing.

    Windows for Workgroups 3.11 running on DOS 6.something got me through college, helped me work out the basics of how PCs work from a software perspective -VIRTUAL memory, Wow! It als got me through college because it came with Works for Windows as standard, so I had spreadsheet and decent enough word processing facilities as well as the ability to take a disk to college and print there or work at college and bring work home.

    These things were either too expensive, tricky to work out or unavailable to ordinary people before. Yeah, 95 took some getting used to, but XP matured into something I still like. Since then, not sogood, but still have potential.

    I'm no platform evangellist, I know the issues with windows, but I owe that software family a lot!

    1. Mike Flugennock

      love of computers

      Lottie sez on 11.22.10 @ 10:37gmt:

      "Back int he day I did my CLAIT exam at school on Caxton, a DOS based word processor. When a rep for the local college came in on "career day" he had a very clunky, early laptop running windows and Excel. It looked so wicked that it reawakened my love of computing."

      After five or six years of doing design and layout with hot wax, cold galleys and razor blades, the studio I was working in got a 512k Mac, a HyperDrive and an early LaserWriter. I totally dived into it. I didn't think using a computer could be so flat-out fun. After a while, I had an occasion to visit one of the writers; they were all using some early flavor ot WP on DOS boxes, and I thought "God _damn_, that's got to be the nastiest UI I've ever seen! How do you get anything done?"

      I don't think I'd be nearly as enthusiastic about using a computer in my work if I'd been stuck using DOS/Windows. Using a Mac made using a computer actually pleasurable, and encouraged me to fiddle around under the hood to figure out how things work, so that while I was trained as an artist, I ended up becoming a geek of sorts as MacOS encouraged me to explore and experiment. I'd never have been able to learn as much about how a computer or an OS works if it hadn't been for that old 512k Mac, and the fact that things like OS and file management were laid out in simple, graphic terms instead of forcing me to remember what kind of cryptic incantations and magic words to type in order to get the computer to do what I needed it to do.

      On the other hand, the only version of Windoze I ever got along with halfway well was NT which, sadly, was about fifteen years or so ago. I remember around mid '95, seeing a headline on the cover of Newsweek magazine -- I actually bought it for the cover story on Jerry Garcia, who'd died just recently -- reading "Windows '95: Should You Jump?" My first thought was "oh, Christ, where's an open window?"

  35. Paul Robinson


    I have an unopened, shrink-wrapped OS/2 Warp, version 3. Do you think I should pop round to the Antiques Roadshow when they're next in my area?

    1. Nuke
      Thumb Up

      @ Paul Robinson - OS/2

      Me too. I once contacted IBM with some question about OS/2 and they mistook me for a "Reseller". After that I got a complimentary copy of every version (except Warp 4). Some are still shrinked.

      The v2.x's came on about 35 1.4Mb floppies. I think Warp 3 was on a CD but had a floppy to start the installation (PC's then could not boot from CD).

      I believe that old OS's will acquire value. My company, like many others, tossed thousands of boxed OS copies in skips when they upgraded - no-one (except me) saw any point in keeping them. That is what gives the surviving copies value. Especially as they used to come with quality manuals. Early DOS's had a A5 3-ring binders for the manuals which ran to around 500 pages, every detail was there.

      By Win9x manuals had gone to the dogs - I remember a complaint that the Win95 manual was "thinner than a copy of 'Hello!' magazine".

      I even have a boxed copy of DOSv4.0, the worst DOS ever - it was not produced for long. It must become a real collector's item in time.

      1. Lottie


        "By Win9x manuals had gone to the dogs - I remember a complaint that the Win95 manual was "thinner than a copy of 'Hello!' magazine""

        I can't remember who told me this, but it was once explained to me that a large amount of revenue for Microsoft came from selling more advanced manuals and training folk how to use their systems. Hence the poor manuals.

        I doubt this was really the case, but it IS possible.

    2. Mike Flugennock
      Thumb Up

      re: Warp

      Wow, no shit. Yeah, why not go for it? Too bad you can't find an opened copy to install on some vintage x86 laptop so you can show it actually running while you show off your still-shrink wrapped copy.

      Sadly, though, I don't think it'd get a "zinger" -- you know, when they throw up a little animated starburst onto the screen with some absurdly large amount shown in it.

      Now, it kinda makes me wish I'd held onto my old Mac Plus; even by the time I'd moved up to a G3, I still had it stashed in the closet, still in its padded nylon road case along with its 20mb external SCSI drive, a complete set of manuals and a still-shrinkwrapped copy of MacWrite, MacPaint, Guided Tour and and MacOS 1.1 (I'd been using MacOS for about a year and a half before I could afford my own Mac, and so the Write/Paint/System software and manuals remained unopened). By now, that gear -- all still in perfect working order the last time I had it -- might be at the point where it was starting to _increase_ in value.

  36. blackworx

    Still remember my forst Windows experience...

    ...coming from RISC-OS at school to work for a geotechnical firm running WFW3.11. My initial response: "What the fuck IS this retarded shit?" It was like stepping back in time and not in a good way.

    Still, I got the hang of it pretty quickly and even ended up liking it a little.

  37. Mike Flugennock
    Gates Horns

    sorry, Bill. Still not as good as MacOS

    In fact, it's still nowhere _near_ as good. It's been a cheesy ripoff from the beginning. I'd already been using MacOS for about a year when Windoze first came out, and my general response was "M'eh", followed by laughter. It took an army of geeks to figure it out and maintain it, while I was able to deal with most MacOS issues pretty much on my own, with a bit of assistance here and there from the guys on my user group BBS.

    Hell, I'm _still_ laughing.

  38. Darryl

    25 years

    ... of Mac and Linux fanbois predicting the demise of Microsoft in bile filled rants (For examples, please see 80% of the comments preceeding) and yet it still hasn't happened...

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge


      Yes, just like we hope to see the end of war, famine, and discrimination, sadly it never quite happens.

      Still, good to see MS are still making lots of money out of such an excellent product that you enjoy buying with every PC.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Every PC?

        Not quite sure how you work that one out, unless you're assuming the Windows-loving portion of El Reg's readership spend their lives going back and forward to PC World handing over wodges of cash for OEM-preloaded drool-proof boxes?

        Oh, I see, it was a joke and therefore not insulting.

  39. Joe User
    Thumb Down

    Windows XP's desktop

    Graphics design by the Teletubbies.

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