back to article Microsoft has Windows 1.0 retrogasm: Remember when Windows ran in kilobytes, not gigabytes?

Strange things are afoot within the hallowed halls of Redmond, as Microsoft's Twitter account went decidedly retro this week. The oddness kicked off on 1 July when a tweet and Instagram post detailing the "all-new" Windows 1.0 appeared on a feed more accustomed to wearily plugging Bing pictures for desktop backgrounds or …

  1. AIBailey

    The graphical shell demanded users get to grips with a mouse, didn't allow overlapping Windows and had some hefty hardware requirements (for the time) to be usable.

    It's interesting how many GUI's were emerging at the time, and that by the time Windows 1.0 was released, there were more functional and feature rich environments available, and not just the obvious one on the Mac.

    The Atari ST had GEM, and whilst that was still fairly basic, allowed windows to overlap. The Amiga's Intuition and Exec allowed that and much more, including multiple screen depths and resolutions (allowing that amazing-for-the-time party piece of sliding one screen down to reveal another) and pre-emptive multitasking. Both ran comfortably in 512KB.

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Both ran comfortably in 512KB

      Although, to be fair, back then 512KB was still "f***ing hell, how much?!? 512KB is huge!", as opposed to today where it's "f***ing hell, how much?!? 512KB is nothing!"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not an entirely fair comparison

        as both the Amiga and Atari ST had large portions of their OS's in Rom.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not an entirely fair comparison

          Tiny ROMs by modern standards.

          I can remember when a RTOS kernel fitted into a 16k eprom.

        2. AIBailey

          Re: Not an entirely fair comparison

          ...both the Amiga and Atari ST had large portions of their OS's in Rom

          True, however bear in mind that early TOS versions were only 192KB in size so even factoring that into account, the ST had a total of just over 700KB for the OS ROM and working RAM. The screen memory had to come out of that too, reducing the available memory by a further 32KB.

          Furthermore, very early ST's had to load TOS into RAM from floppy disk, and some ST models were released in Europe with only 256KB RAM.

          The same is true for very early (KS 1.0) Amiga's - they had to load in Kickstart from floppy and still only had 512KB to play with.

          In all cases, they were still capable of much more than Windows 1.0.

        3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Not an entirely fair comparison

          Amiga and Atari ST had large portions of their OS's in Rom

          And the BBC Micro had 100% of it in ROM. And switchable ROM banks to allow other stuff to live in EPROM or sideways RAM (or in my case, sideways ROM with a switch on the write line because some ROM images tried to corrupt themselves as a precaution against being loaded into sideway RAM. Err.. allegedly).

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge

        and yet, with 1000 times the computing power in 2019, as compare to 1985, we have:

        a) flat-looking UI again [MS forgot the lessons of Windows 3.0]

        b) limited UI color choices (as opposed to UNLIMITED, like XP)

        c) piggy CRapps that run as if they 're on an 8Mhz 8086 with 512kb RAM (I blame UWP, ".Not", C-Pound, and so-called "object oriented" design that's more like "look, look, look!, this language has OBJECTS in it!!!")

        Unfortunately, MS's standard development practices "pig up" the applications (with feature creep and pure laziness and spyware) to match the new capability of the systems upon which they are run... and demand MORE, MORE, MORE!

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Both ran comfortably in 512KB

        You obviously have a slightly different definition of "comfortably" than I do..

        Especially when you add token-ring and netbeui drivers into the mix. And (before Dos 5) you didn't even have the loadhigh command available unless you were using QEMM..

        Those people who are nostalgic about Windows 1 & 2 (and 3) didn't have to support it for idiot managers.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      One issue, and a big one, was being able to run MS-DOS applications (which were making MS rich). It was no small constraint, and trying to fit them into a windowed environment was not a simple task for the time, especially in real mode and no CPU or graphic chip support. Much simpler if you can start from scratch and allow only applications designed for a windowed GUI.

      RAM is not the real issue per se - although graphic screen does use more data than character based ones. Still the PC was more a business machine and probably some users already had to manage more application data than the average Atari/Amiga one, despite the less powerful processor.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Am I right in thinking that the Amiga could at least depend upon a dedicated graphics chip whereas PC's couldn't?

      Windows 1 was indeed sorry but it probably did enough at the time to stop people jumping wholesale to GEM or some other potential API that Microsoft wouldn't be able to control.

      1. nevarre

        Dedicated graphics and sound.

        1. phuzz Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          The custom chips also moved other things off the CPU, like floppy disk control and I/O which helped reduce load on the CPU, thus making everything a bit snappier.

          The Agnus (later Alice) chip also controlled some direct memory access, keeping yet more work away from the CPU.

          All in all it was a slick design.

      2. Richard Plinston

        > jumping wholesale to GEM

        DRI sold around a million copies of GEM for MS/PC-DOS before Windows 1 was released.

      3. DiViDeD

        Re: "Windows 1 was indeed sorry"

        I trust that, by that statement, you are not trying to imply that Windows 286/386/3.0 were in any way fit for purpose?

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: "Windows 1 was indeed sorry"

          At the time Microsoft was completely overfaced with OS/2. Having to work on a real operating system was what encouraged them to think about whether couldn't make more money from DOS by pretending to add real features. This led to the era of "this version may be shit, but the next one will be great", ie. copying the competition just enough, with inertia doing the rest, to keep customers from jumping ship to, say, DR-DOS + GEM

          1. David Neil

            Re: "Windows 1 was indeed sorry"

            OS/2 didn't drop till 1987 iirc

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge

          Re: "Windows 1 was indeed sorry"

          Windows 3.0 (and later) was VERY "fit for purpose", if you ran it on a 386 or better (even 386 SX).

          The irritating "program manager" was workable. The 'file manager' was usable. but the BEST part was the virtual x86 DOS windows, where you could actually MULTITASK MS-DOS APPLICATIONS.

          But as we all know Micro-shaft FORGOT the lessons of Windows 3.0 which was patterned after the updates that made OS/2 1.2 "way cool" - the UI had 3D SKEUOMORPHIC ELEMENTS, buttons that looked like buttons, and not FLATSO colored squares on a FLAT background.

          You know, like Windows "Ape" (8.x) and Win-10-nic (10) do. FLATTY McFLATFACE.

          Why the *FEEL* did Micro-shaft go BACK to THE FLAT? Windows 3.0 sales EXPLODED because of the 3D SKEUOMORPHIC appearance!!! That, and Solitaire. It wasn't MS Word or Excel that sold it. it was THE 3D SKEUOMORPHIC that sold it!!!

          And the programs were efficient, loaded pretty fast and ran pretty well on that ancient hardware, with LOWER RAM REQUIREMENTS and SMALLER DISK SPACE REQUIREMENTS etc. etc.

          /me facepalms how things have ended up

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: "Windows 1 was indeed sorry"

            Windows 3.0 (and later) was VERY "fit for purpose"

            As long as your purpose was tinkering with your settings to make the damn thing work only to have it freeze and/or crash on a regular basis.

            Windows 3 did "co-operative multitasking" rather than pre-emptive so if a programme crashed or froze while running you only option was either to crash out of Windows to DOS (not always possible) or just power-cycle the machine.

    4. Dan 55 Silver badge

      I think the Amstrad PCs also had GEM perched atop DR-DOS, but MS ended up beating other environments because they were IBM's anointed choice so they could turn the screws and increase licensing fees for the OEMs.

      The Amiga knocked everything else for six but stood no chance against Commodore's marketing.

      1. Stuart Castle Silver badge

        Commodore definitely had a problem with marketing. They seemed almost as if they found good marketing offensive. A few examples:

        1) The Commodore 64 GS. Take an out of date computer, remove the keyboard (and most of the other I/O) and package it up as a console, then bundle it with a cartridge that required you to press a key to start, and attempt to sell it for nearly as much as the user would have paid for a Commodore 64, which had both a keyboard and all the I/O required to access a huge library of software on tape and disk.

        2) The CDTV. Take a fairly successful home computer. Add a CD drive and a weird controller, but remove the keyboard and floppy drive and place the whole caboodle in a CD player casing, then forbid stores from selling the resulting device anywhere near a computer and try and sell it to an already over saturated CD player market, despite their being no evidence of any interest in CD players being interactive. Then do the same thing again (CD32) when it failed.

        Don't get me wrong. I am an Amiga fanboi, and would have killed for a CD32 (or CDTV). I'd like to think that with good marketing, the CD32 would have given Commodore enough cash that it could have developed a credible competitor to the Saturn and PS1, and I'd like to think that with good marketing of a their big box Amigas, Commodore would now be in the same position Apple are.

        Sadly, that didn't happen. MS always had the advantage that they had the backing of IBM, and, particularly in the late 80s, there was a perception that no one would ever get fired for buying IBM, which likely helped PC (and therefore MS-DOS and Windows) sales massively.

        1. Sir Awesome

          'As the old joke goes, commodore is so bad a marketing, if they bought KFC they would rename it "warm dead bird"'

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I thought that was HP, and that if they sold sushimi they would call it "cold dead sliced fish".

        2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          MS always had the advantage that they had the backing of IBM

          By the mid-1980s that wasn't really the case and certainly not with DOS: IBM gave MS the contract for OS/2. But IBM had been taken over by the bean counters who effectively stifled progress of any kind. It really was the saddest part of IBM's history. Can't remember when but at some point IBM even went onto to release its own version of DOS, once they finally realised they were being stiffed by Microsoft, which they should have realised with the release of the turd that was Windows 1.0.

          But Microsoft did benefit from customer inertia and it effectively sowed the seeds of doubt about compatiblity, before going all out on making other versions of DOS incompatible with its software.

          1. Richard Plinston

            > IBM even went onto to release its own version of DOS

            PC-DOS 1.1 was the IBM rewrite to eliminate DRI's code which was a requirement of the settlement with DRI. This was passed back to MS who released it as MS-DOS 1.25.

            IBM also did PC-DOS 4.0. MS-DOS 3.x had a limit of 32MB partition size. Various OEMs (Wyse, Compaq, ...) had modified the code in various incompatible ways to give larger disk sizes. IBM was still stuck with the limit so they rewrote parts of DOS to do this properly. They also added a menu front end which was widely disliked. This was passed back to MS who released it as MS-DOS 4.01*.

            * not to be confused with the earlier MS-DOS 4.0 and 4.1 which were completely different multitasking versions based on 3.1 and 3.2 and were known as European DOS.

            1. ovation1357

              Interesting info - What about the later versions of PC DOS?

              I was still a kid when I built my first PC around the turn of the 90s and got into DOS - the guys at the computer club I joined were mainly fans of DR DOS (version 6 I think) and I joined their ranks, having tried MS DOS 6.2 and found DR DOS to be vastly superior...

              To me, MS DOS was always very bare and didn't work well straight out of the box - it had a very limited set of utilities shipped by default and those utilities always seemed to be quite limited in themselves (it's too far in the past for me to remember specifics but I recall things like management of highmem, lowmem extend/expanded memory to be a breeze in DR whilst MS needed a load of manual, complex messing about in config.sys)...

              As things when on I ended up running IBM PC DOS 7.0, which again has tones of utilities and features that made MS DOS look terribly inferior.

              I vaguely remember PC DOS having a menu system - I _think_ I liked it.

              I didn't know that IBM actually gave back some of their enhancements to MS, but to a kid learning DOS after cutting my teeth on the BBC Micro and ZX Spectrum; everyone else seemed to be making a much more useful version of DOS than Microsoft.

              As an aside I still have horrible memories of trying (and failing) to fix a corrupt autoexec.bat using 'edlin' in MS DOS 3.31. I even had the manual but couldn't figure it out :-/

              These days it seems to me that little has changed in the Microsoft camp except, perhaps for the addition of Power Shell - prior to that the CMD.exe shell in all NT flavours of Windows was even more limited than in DOS. Core Windows utils such as the file manager and built-in text editor (i.e. notepad) are still as basic and awful as they've been my whole life and they look crap when compared to the equivalent tool in any other modern OS.

              I switched to using Linux as my primary desktop OS back in 2007 and I've never regretted it for a minute - Windows of today (and its associated common MS apps - I'm lookin at you, Outlook!) is an abomination and evertime I'm forced to use it (daily at work) I wonder to myself how on earth Microsoft managed to steamroller its way through all lots of better platforms over the years to emerge as the powerful monopolistic monster it is today.

              1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

                I don't recall the date, but it would have been thirty or thirty-five years ago, when I got my first 8086/DOS machine. Having previously been using 8080 and CP/M, I was utterly shocked to discover that there was no assembler/linker, and no screen editor (edlin was your friend, it seems).

                Yet this was being sold against things like the BBC micro, Commodore, et al - all of which could do something useful out of the box.

                Now you get W10, and it *still* can't do anything useful out of the box...

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Oh, W10 can do something useful out of the box.

                  But for its maker, not for you.

        3. Ottman001

          3) The Commodore +4 and C16 were spawn by Commodore marketing from a design for cheap entry level home machines. They were not C64 compatible and far inferior. Marketing confused the message by putting the C16 in a C64 case and packing business software into ROM in the +4. Then they priced them to compete with the C64, which of course they couldn't.

          4) History pretty much repeated itself with the Amiga 600. During development it was thought of as the A300 which gives you an idea of its intended market position and relative spec. The much older Amiga 500/500+ was a great selling superior machine that was being manufactured cheaply after years of optimisation. Commodore discontinued the A500 in favour of the inferior and more costly A600 and watched their profitability disappear.

          1. Hairy Spod

            superior in that it had a key pad but no IDE interface?

            1. jeffdyer

              Yes, I was wondering in what way the 600 could be classed as inferior to the then 4/5 year old 500, itself replaced by the 500+

              I bought a secondhand 500+ and an external hard disk unit soon after I got my own flat, just to find the 600 released weeks later, with built in HD and PCMCIA cabability.

              1. Dan 55 Silver badge

                The trapdoor expansion wasn't as good as the A500's, PCMCIA addons were expensive, and Commodore were flogging a dead chipset by that point. They needed invest in R&D and come up with something that could play Wolfenstein and Doom instead of earning money for old rope.

                Also the caps were nasty and cheap and if you turn one on today and it's still working then you should probably immediately turn it off and get it recapped.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        DR-DOS, but MS ended up beating other environments

        In the words of MS at the time "it ain't done until DR-DOS won't run". Their dirty tricks involving DR-DOS are well detailed.

    5. Captain Hogwash

      Re: Atari ST had GEM

      GEM certainly ran on some kind of DOS and was a better choice than Windows 1.0

      1. JohnFen

        Re: Atari ST had GEM

        Well, let's face it, Windows 1.0 was objectively garbage. I think that all of the already existing graphical desktops at the time were far superior -- at least the ones that I used were.

      2. Sir Awesome

        Re: Atari ST had GEM

        I've kept my old 5.25" GEM install floppies from my Amstrad 1512 - it runs on DOS3.2 or CP/M, both of which were pretty good for their time =]

    6. FozzyBear


      Thanks for the trip down memory lane. A once proud owner of A500 and later A3000.. The OS was definitely superior to windows. The Dedicated chipset Denise, Paula and of course Fat Agnus, made a lot of things possible that would have sent windows into seizures.

      1. Captain Hogwash

        Re: @AIBailey

        Agnus Dei

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @AIBailey

          That one used to tollit peccata mundi.

    7. PM from Hell

      ICL Personal Computers

      At that point ICL was trying to go it alone with their own range of PC's and put Gem on top of the OS. I Can remember if it was a DOS or C/PM variant.

      The previous range of personal computers were the DRS20 machines which did run CP/M you could configure them to run multiple processes and even install a second CPU board on some of them but they were entirely green screen

      The network address the DRS20 was set by a couple of thumb-wheels 'hidden' behind a hinged cover beside the screen. You could actually configure up to 54 machines on one network!! In my first job I had to diagnose why networks would stop dear after some bored worker had changed the address of his computer and it clashed with another on their network. As there was normally only one computer per office this could involve visiting up to 16 offices before I resolved it (imagine 16 users on a single network)

      They were both actually very good machines but the IBM PC swept everything away before it

      1. W.S.Gosset

        Re: ICL Personal Computers

        slightly OT:

        a brilliant collection of old ICL stories (in 2 parts):


        Charles Dickens's grandson was a legend manager...

        Managerial judgment : (Graham Morris)

        Cedric Dickens was my manager, and I think it would be fair to say that I was in considerable awe of him. So in view of all the department's commitments it took some courage before I could go into his office to ask if I could possibly take the following Friday off. He looked at me with admirable mildness and simply said : "Well, you're a much better judge of that than I am."

        1. Richard Plinston

          Re: ICL Personal Computers

          > Cedric Dickens was my manager ... admirable mildness

          I met him when he came out to New Zealand, he had a handshake like a dead fish.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: ICL Personal Computers

            So did Lord Vestey, who was also an extremely good (and somewhat legendary) manager. My father, who worked for him for many years, has quite a fund of stories.

            I'm afraid all that business school guff about bone-crushing handshakes and looking someone straight in the eye is just about covering up incompetence with theatre.

      2. hmv

        Re: ICL Personal Computers

        It didn't run OfficePower did it?

        $work had a bunch of DRS30s with a DRS6000 (running SVR4.2SMP) that eventually made its way to me as a test machine.

    8. billdehaan

      Both ran comfortably in 512KB.

      While GEM was a fair competitor to Windows, the Amiga isn't really a fair comparison. AmigaOS ran on top of Amiga hardware, which had more than a few advantages over a generic PC.

      And that was the allure of Windows. It ran on the PCs that people actually had, or at least that they could upgrade to. The problem is that Windows (and GEM) had to write to the lowest common denominator on a PC, and that was a fairly low bar.

      I remember when Windows first came out, most people called it "Microsoft Window", as in singular, because you could really only run one thing on it at a time. Microsoft was pretty honest about the fact that version 1.0 was a proof of concept, and a work in progress, rather than a serious environment.

      I actually did know a few shops that ran multiple Windows apps concurrently, or at least task switched between them. None of them did it in Windows, however. They all ran Desq, or DesqView, to multitask the different DOS sessions, where each DOS session ran Windows, and a single Windows application.

  2. Snowy Silver badge

    Could have been a typo.

    They meant to write 10. but wrote 1.0 instead and are to embarrassed to admit it?

    1. simonlb

      Re: Could have been a typo.

      I agree. But seriously, why don't they just rip out the telemetry and revert the whole UI back to Windows7?

      1. Spacedinvader

        I did that...

        by rolling the OS back to 7

        1. JohnFen

          Re: I did that...

          But were you careful to omit the Win 7 update that retrofitted the telemetry into it?

          1. Spacedinvader

            Re: I did that...


            1. Updraft102

              Re: I did that...

              They also put the telemetry into the cumulative "rollup" updates that all Windows victims are now forced to accept if they want to keep up-to-date, which is probably the main reason they went to the rollup system in the first place (they can put anything they want in it and force you to take it if you want security fixes). The only way to avoid the telemetry would be to use the security only updates (downloaded and installed manually) and avoid Windows Update itself, which is easy for people likely to be reading The Reg, but not so much for regular home users. Then you would get all kinds of bugs introduced by security updates that only got fixes in the telemetry-laden rollups.

              You can try to remove the telemetry and hope you got it all out, but ultimately, it's Microsoft, and their alleged kinder, gentler ways are not for you, Windows users. They may love Linux (cough), but they really seem to hate Windows users, particularly those who aren't big corporations.

  3. GlenP Silver badge

    First GUI I encountered I reckon would have been GEM in late '85 so about when Windows was debuting. The user couldn't work out how to delete a file!

    The answer was that he'd obscured the waste basket with the file manager tile.

  4. Geoffrey W

    Commentard beware. ElReg is trolling you with that final little survey. Oh, they know you so well, and which buttons to push...

    1. Corporate Scum

      Know your customer

      Of course the survey was clickbait :) the vulture's got your goat.

      I spent my entire childhood savings to buy my first real computer. The second slowest 386 they sold. It came with windows, which I deleted after a week to free up space. The straw that broke the camels back was when I tried to delete multiple files, and it thew a popup for _EACH_GODDAMN_FILE_, my memory fades, but I suspect they were also Modal.

      Windows did not re-appear on my machines until 3.11 for workgroups, which joined 95 OSR2+, 98SE, 2k, and windows 7 as beloved operating systems.

      XP was a beast, and the horrors inflicted on the non-pro versions are not to be spoken of, much like the releases that began with M and V. After service pack 2 It got better, and because of the long gap till 7, was remembered fondly for it's twilight years instead of troubled youth.

      Windows 10 seems on a similar track, birthed in sin, the product of mediocrity(8) and some nameless horror so foul it has never seen the light of day(?Win9?), it has slowly come into its own.

  5. bob, mon!

    It's a warning...

    The 20H1 upgrade will decimate Windows 10.

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: It's a warning...

      Or decimalise it?

  6. RyokuMas

    "Why Windows 1.0?"

    Because it's not an UGLY FLATTY MC FLATSO FLAT FLAT GOD I'M BORING CAPS FAIL FLAT interface, of course!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Why Windows 1.0?"

      It was quite flat, actuallly....

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: "Why Windows 1.0?"

        that was the whole point of comparing windows 1.0 to windows 10 - even without the decimal, it's STILL all 2D FLATSO in Win-10-nic, just like it was in Windows 1.0, but the difference is that BACK THEN it's all they really had RAM and video performance to handle... whereas _now_ it's COMPLETELY POINTLESS to make things all FLUGLY like that...

        exept that a bunch of "whiz kids" around 2015-sh *FELT* it was better then CRAMMED IT ALL UP OUR ASSES whether we WANT it or not. It's the same basic ARROGANT crowd that excreted systemd, gnome 3, Australis, ":The Ribbon", and "The Metro". it was like suddenly we woke up and it ALL CHANGED and we were being FORCED to ACCEPT IT.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Why Windows 1.0?"

          What's with the random caps? You sound like an idiot, full of sound and fury.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Why Windows 1.0?"

            Calm down, mate. That's our Bombastic Bob, being bombastic...

    2. joeW

      Re: "Why Windows 1.0?"

      Bravo, I almost downvoted you on instinct.

    3. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: "Why Windows 1.0?"

      I was wondering if bob would show up. I've tried pointing out to him before that a flat design is just calling back to the good old days.

      It's probably just these damn millennials who want their fancy modern skeuomorphic fake 3D interfaces!

      (I kid, and I'm a millennial myself)

  7. Locky

    Queen of the Streams?

    Sounds like the author is a member of the church


    1. The Original Steve

      Re: Queen of the Streams?

      On an actress of a particularly niche, adult sub-genre...

  8. rnturn

    Win1.0 came bundled...

    ...with some Zenith PCs we'd bought at work way back when. Nobody was much interested in what thia Windows thing was that came with the PCs though most of us had heard of it (probably via articles in Byte). I was helping to get them set up so -- for the heck of it -- installed it one of the new PCs to check it out. I grabbed my boss as he was walking by to demonstrate the software. ... We laughed and laughed. ... 'Til our sides hurt. Nobody else even bothered to install it, instead opting to reformat the floppies for use in sneakernet file transfers.

  9. Mage


    Win 3.0 was first more usable than DOS.

    Excel & Word were on the Mac first, which says how useful win 1.0 was.

    Gem was more useful GUI on DOS than even Win2.0 or Win286 was.

    Most PC CAD SW in 1987 was still launching from DOS and only working on a small list of graphics cards, some of which cost more than basic PC. The screens did too.

    1. Down not across

      Re: Win3.0

      Excel & Word were on the Mac first, which says how useful win 1.0 was.

      There was Aldus PageMaker for Windows 1.0. If my memory serves PageMaker 2.0 even came with Windows bundled.

      1. VicMortimer

        Re: Win3.0

        But almost nobody actually ran it on Windows. It started out as a Mac program and mostly stayed on the Mac for many, many years.

      2. Richard Plinston

        Re: Win3.0

        > even came with Windows bundled.

        Both GEM and early Windows versions were available as libraries that could be linked into a program so that they would run directly on DOS, or on the GUI if that was installed.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Win3.0

        "If my memory serves PageMaker 2.0 even came with Windows bundled."

        Almost. If you had Windows already installed, then you just installed Pagemaker. But if you didn't have Windows installed, you had to run the installer from the WindowsRT disc (RT - Run Time). Just enough of Windows to let Pagemaker run.

        Ventura Publisher did the same with a GEM run time environment.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Dr Dre

        Re: Win3.0

        > Am I imagining it or wasn't there also a little flurry of (dunno what to call them) character-mode GUIs? They would split up your screen into "windows" and you could do different things in each, eg calculator in one and a wordstar-y sort of WP in another.

        >Is my memory playing me false?

        You remember well Obi Won. Framework by Forefront (later Ashton-Tate) was one such office suite.

        It could do all sorts of jolly things with macros, always impressed people seeing multiple frames opening and closing as if by magic as it worked away on converting a purchase schedule to a works order, then despatch note and invoice.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Win3.0

        "Am I imagining it or wasn't there also a little flurry of (dunno what to call them) character-mode GUIs?"

        The retronym is TUI, or Textual User Interface.

        IBM's TopView and Quareterdeck's DesqView both worked fairly well (1985). Later, I had Win3.0 running in a window under DesqView/386. It worked, and was fairly stable, but I didn't really see the point.

    3. Richard Plinston

      Re: Win3.0

      > Win 3.0 was first more usable than DOS.

      Windows in 386 mode could run multiple DOS boxes and so was bought just to run Lotus and Word Perfect at the same time.

    4. fung0

      Re: Win3.0

      Win 3.0 was first more usable than DOS.

      That was exactly my experience. I was happily running DOS with DESQView, but when Windows 3.0 came out, I quickly discovered that it could multitask DOS more easily and more smoothly than DESQView. There was no longer any reason not to live in Windows.

  10. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    Sorry folks, apparently you'll never need more than 256k...

    Just because we all have 4Gb minimum, it doesn't mean you need to use 4Gb minimum.

  11. MacroRodent


    Never used 1.0, but did use the Windows 2.0 that came soon after. It had the overlapping windows, which prompted one of the infamous lawsuits from Apple, alleging Microsoft stole their look&feel. On a 286 machine it was quite usable.

    (Actually, I have the vague recollection that the PC version of the game "Balance of Power" came with a bundled Windows 1.0 as a runtime: starting the game started a stripped down Windows 1.0, which ran the game. That one I have played).

    1. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: Overlaps

      On a 286 machine it was quite usable.

      It was probably usable if you could afford a hard drive and had a megabyte or so of free disk space. I ran Windows 2.0 once from floppies just to see what it looked like. Almost as slow as Amazon's web site has become in recent months. Interesting, but not very usable.

      1. MacroRodent

        Re: Overlaps

        I am fairly sure most, possibly all 286 PC:s had at least a minimal hard drive. If you could afford a 286, omitting the HD made no sense. Even at the time useful applications had mostly grown too large to be practical to run from floppies.

        1. Richard Plinston

          Re: Overlaps

          > I am fairly sure most, possibly all 286 PC:s had at least a minimal hard drive.

          Diskless workstations (thin clients) were a thing back then*. Booting over the network (PXE) and accessing Netware, Citrix, LTSP or other servers.

          * and may become a thing again with Microsoft pushing cloud computing.

          1. whitepines

            Re: Overlaps

            Diskless workstations (thin clients) were a thing back then

            In UNIX/Linux-land they never stopped being a thing. My employer has racks full of high end diskless servers, all running off central SAN systems. I sincerely pity anyone having to manage things at scale with storage in each individual server, all degrading with time and use. Might partially explain why Windows hosting providers tend to have horrible uptime and when malware hits why recovery seems to take an age and a half if it's possible at all...

        2. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: Overlaps

          We definitely had 286's at school which only had a floppy drive.

          They were practically useless of course.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Netflix and "tie-in products to promote the third season"

    According to the Wikipedia entry "In a statement to The New York Times, Netflix revealed they had partnered with around 75 companies to produce tie-in products to promote the third season"

    Probably one of the 75... anyway I don't think Windows 1.0 was one of the memorable things from 1985.

  13. iron Silver badge

    From the poll: "I can't wait to see how those tiled Windows worked when the code appears in GitHub"

    Why would I need to wait? I remember how those tiled Windows worked in Windows 1.0.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    32 Gigs

    My friend's grand daughter has some sh*tty little HP laptop that only has 32 Gigabytes of disk space trying to run Windows 10.

    Even after removing all third party bloatware this thing can no longer receive any Windows updates because the disk is full.


    1. Anguilla

      Re: 32 Gigs

      I know the feeling well ! I bought a secondhand Asus and also discovered that it was similarly un-upgradeable due to a crappy 32GB storage inside it.

      I got around this problem by "force-feeding" the very latest Win 10 - deleting anything that stood in the way - with perversion Win 10 May 2019 issue.

      I then shifted it to someone else just to get rid of it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 32 Gigs

      Hasn't anyone bunged in a small SSD yet and made her happy?

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: 32 Gigs

        Most machines in that class have their storage on soldered-on EMMCs. It's flash and not bad from a speed perspective, but nearly impossible to replace. Usually, these are best with a card in the available slot for all user data storage, but things that have to be on the main disk can still rapidly use up the remaining space, especially Windows updates.

  15. STrRedWolf

    Gimmie Windows 2.x

    Windows 2.x had the base. I bet adding the Start menu on that and you had 16-bit perfection.

  16. SVV

    Retro chuckles

    Microsoft have invited us to have a look and laugh at Windows 1.0 and comment about how it was a right load of rubbish, comapred to Windows 10 which is a ....... hang on, is this wise?

  17. IGnatius T Foobar !

    I used an excellent Microsoft OS back then.

    I used an excellent Microsoft OS back then.

    It was called XENIX. Ran great on my 80286 system.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: I used an excellent Microsoft OS back then.

      That wasn't a Microsoft OS. That was AT&T Unix Version 7, ported to your 286 by somebody who sub-leased the source from Microsoft. Microsoft bought the source distribution rights from MaBell, but never actually coded anything in the Xenix world.

      1. Richard Plinston

        Re: I used an excellent Microsoft OS back then.

        > but never actually coded anything in the Xenix world.

        Not true. While Unix was ported to 8086 as Xenix and later to 80286 by a father and son team calling themselves SCO they were contracted to do so and paid by MS. MS also added unique code into Xenix such as record locking. In addition many MS applications were developed by MS to run on Xenix, such as BASIC, Word and Multiplan (I have Byte adverts for these here).

        1. SealTeam6

          Re: I used an excellent Microsoft OS back then.

          I worked for SCO and I remember installing and supporting Xenix.

          It did run Word but only in full-screen - there wasn't any X-Windows windowing environment for it.

  18. TeeCee Gold badge

    I've said it before and I'll say it again.

    There is one and only one reason why Windows succeeded and every other candidate for "future GUI OS" died. With Windows you could reboot into honest-to-God gen-u-ine MS or PC DOS and run Lotus 123, WordPerfect and any of the other "must have" DOS programs that were astonishingly prone to crashing like a sonofabitch when run on or with anything else.

    So you could have your new-fangled GUI cake while scarfing down your old DOS based cake as well.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Except ...

      ... DOS isn't done until Lotus won't run was the mantra ... and after Redmond had a word processor of sorts, WP and Wordstar had similar problems with each update from Microsoft.

      1. DiViDeD

        Re: Except ...

        "..DOS isn't done until Lotus won't run"

        And ironically enough, Lotus wan't done until it was ported to Windows in the truly horrible incarnation of 123/W

        Apropos of absolutely nothing, at a Lotus 123/G presentation, I won a t shirt for remembering that WYSBYGI meant "What you see before you get it".

        Future historians will look at that phrase and declare "And that was the point at which Lotus lost it"

  19. Danny Boyd

    Interesting hypothesis about "Windows One". Very interesting. Low probability, of course, but still...

  20. Roger B

    Would Windows 1.0 run on a modern machine? Would it become self aware upon finding itself installed on a system with >4GB of RAM My "weakest" Windows 10 machine is an old Core 2 Duo with 2 GB, maybe we could start on something like that to be safe?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If the machine still had the option to boot using BIOS instead of EFI, if it had legacy keyboard and mouse device emulation, and if it had a proper boot drive, it could probably work. It would be completely blind to most of your memory, just as DOS is.

      1. Crazy Operations Guy

        You can run Windows 1.0 on top of FreeDOS, which will boot on EFI. FreeDOS will even work on massive systems like the 8-cpu behemoth I just got in (Using FreeDOS to update the firmware of the system). Now I'm tempted to copy the Windows 1.0 binaries over to my FreeDOS stick and see what happens...

        1. jake Silver badge


          Try it and report back ... I'm genuinely curious :-)

          Have a homebrew for your effort.

          1. Crazy Operations Guy

            Re: @COG

            GOt a chance to try it. Most of the utilities that came with Win 1.0 work well enough, but attempting to start a graphical session results in it crashing and burning. The screen goes black, then full white, then a bunch of lines and static-like effects, then the machine just crashes and reboots.

    2. Mayday Silver badge

      16 bit

      You'll only be able to see 16 MB RAM. When we got to a 32 bit OS we could see the thundering 4GB of RAM.

      Wont go into other detail about addressing allowing more but you get the drift.

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: 16 bit

        16MB was an unbelievably huge amount of RAM, even when Windows 95 came out.

        1. DiViDeD

          Re: 16 bit

          Ah, I remember, back in the day when t'internet was all fields, taking 2 4mB SIMMs out of an employer's PC (hey, 8mB was more than I'd ever seen in one place up till then, and more than enough to run VB3) and selling them for £1,200!

          ... and if you tell the kids that today, etc

      2. Richard Plinston

        Re: 16 bit

        > You'll only be able to see 16 MB RAM.

        Windows 1 and 2.0 ran in real (8086) mode and could not address or use more than 1MB of RAM - actually 640KB on a PC. Windows 2.1 could run in protected mode on a 80286 and could get 16MB.

        The 80286 was a broken CPU, it had a limit of 8000 or so selectors so techniques of memory addressing commonly used in DOS programs could not be used. This limited Windows to a single DOS box and many Windows programs had to be recoded or at least recompiled on newer compilers to run.

        1. the spectacularly refined chap

          Re: 16 bit

          Windows 1 and 2.0 ran in real (8086) mode and could not address or use more than 1MB of RAM - actually 640KB on a PC. Windows 2.1 could run in protected mode on a 80286 and could get 16MB.

          Even then you have the gate A20 compatibility issue, Intel have dropped the requisite support in their chips over the last decade. Even prior to that many motherboards didn't support it. I don't know for certain it would be an issue but it's a random factor to consider.

          Some of the other pitfalls have already been mentioned: you MAY be able to get away with a USB keyboard with BIOS emulation and possibly also for the floppy but to be safe a PS/2 keyboard and floppy on a traditional controller is better.

          A mouse will have to be serial though and attached to a "real" RS232 port, assuming you lack an ISA slot for a bus mouse, since Windows 1 predates PS/2 ports (the keyboard port looks the same as an AT keyboard port to software). However a mouse was not mandatory until Windows 95.

          The final gotcha that comes to mind is graphics since you'll be limited to EGA modes. Not a problem for your graphics card but LCD monitors are often poorly optimised for non text sub VGA resolutions. It should work but may look very distorted, have a "stripey" appearance or show other artifacts.

          In short, it's a hell of a lot easier for a machine from even 10-15 years ago, where you at least have the appropriate portage even if nothing is connected, than it is for a machine you bought yesterday.

  21. Pirate Dave Silver badge


    I vaguely remember setting up an old scanner in the mid-90's (even then, it was an "old" scanner), and the software disks for it installed a stripped-down version of Windows 2.0, along with the driver for the scanner, scanning software, and some sort of viewer. I can't remember who made the scanner, seems like it was one of the big Japanese companies. It worked pretty well, for the time, and made nice scans. But the stripped-down version of Windows couldn't do much else, iirc.

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Scanner

      I think that was the idea: a cheap copy of Windows that only ran for the software or hardware that it was accompanying. If you wanted to use Windows properly then you'd buy your own full copy and use the third-party item with that instead of with the runtime.

  22. Anonymous South African Coward

    Renamed "file manager" to a more apt "file mangler" :)

    Because if you're not careful, it'll mangle things. :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ah that old chestnut!

  23. Anonymous South African Coward

    *****The Legend of the Pea Sea*****

    Long ago, in the days when all disks flopped in the breeze and the writing of words was on a star, the Blue Giant dug for the people the Pea Sea. But he needed a creature who could sail the waters, and would need for support but few rams.

    So the Gateskeeper, who was said to be both micro and soft, fashioned a Dosfish, who was small and spry, and could swim the narrow sixteen-bit channel. But the Dosfish was not bright, and could be taught few tricks. His alphabet had no A's, B's, or Q's, but a mere 640 K's, and the size of his file cabinet was limited by his own fat.

    At first the people loved the Dosfish, for he was the only one who could swim the Pea Sea. But the people soon grew tired of commanding his line, and complained that he could neither be dragged nor dropped. "Forsooth," they cried, "the Dosfish can only do one job at a time, and of names he knows only eight and three." And many of them left the Pea Sea for good, and went off in search of the Magic Apple.

    Although many went, far more stayed, because admittance to the Pea Sea was cheap. So the Gateskeeper studied the Magic Apple, and rested awhile in the Parc of the XerOx, and he made a Window that could ride on the Dosfish and do its thinking for it. But the Window was slow, and it would break when the Dosfish got confused. So most people contented themselves with the Dosfish.

    Now it came to pass that the Blue Giant came upon the Gateskeeper, and spoke thus: "Come, let us make of ourselves something greater than the Dosfish." The Blue Giant seemed like a humbug, so they called the new creature Oz II.

    Now Oz II was smarter than the Dosfish, as most things are. It could drag and drop, and could keep files without becoming fat. But the people cared for it not. So the Blue Giant and the Gateskeeper promised another Oz II, to be called Oz II Too, that could swim fast in the new, 32-bit wide Pea Sea.

    Then lo, a strange miracle occurred. Although the Window that rode on the Dosfish was slow, it was pretty, and the third Window was prettiest of all. And the people began to like the third Window, and to use it. So the Gateskeeper turned to the Blue Giant and said, "Fie on thee, for I need thee not. Keep thy Oz II Too, and I shall make of my Window an Entity that will not need the Dosfish, and will swim in the 32-bit Pea Sea."

    Years passed, and the workshops of the Gateskeeper and the Blue Giant were many times overrun by insects. And the people went on using their Dosfish with a Window; even though the Dosfish would from time to time become confused and die, it could always be revived with three fingers.

    Then there came a day when the Blue Giant let forth his Oz II Too onto the world. The Oz II Too was indeed mighty, and awesome, and required a great ram, and the world was changed not a whit. For the people said, "It is indeed great, but we see little application for it." And they were doubtful, because the Blue Giant had met with the Magic Apple, and together they were fashioning a Taligent, and the Taligent was made of objects, and was most pink.

    Now the Gateskeeper had grown ambitious, and as he had been ambitious before he grew, he was now more ambitious still. So he protected his Window Entity with great security, and made its net work both in serving and with peers. And the Entity would swim, not only in the Pea Sea, but in the Oceans of Great Risk. "Yea," the Gateskeeper declared, "though my entity will require a greater ram than Oz II Too, it will be more powerful than a world of Eunuchs."

    And so the Gateskeeper prepared to unleash his Entity to the world, in all but two cities. For he promised that a greater Window, a greater Entity, and even a greater Dosfish would appear one day in Chicago and Cairo, and it too would be built of objects.

    Now the Eunuchs who lived in the Oceans of Great Risk, and who scorned the Pea Sea, began to look upon their world with fear. For the Pea Sea had grown and great ships were sailing in it, the Entity was about to invade their Oceans, and it was rumored that files would be named in letters greater than eight. And the Eunuchs looked upon the Pea Sea, and many of them thought to immigrate.

    Within the Oceans of Great Risk were many Sun Worshippers, and they had wanted to excel, and make their words perfect, and do their jobs as easy as one-two-three. And what's more, many of them no longer wanted to pay for the Risk. So the Sun Lord went to the Pea Sea, and got himself eighty-sixed.

    And taking the next step was He of the NextStep, who had given up building his boxes of black. And he proclaimed loudly that he could help anyone make wondrous soft wares, then admitted meekly that only those who know him could use those wares, and he was made of objects, and required the biggest ram of all.

    And the people looked out upon the Pea Sea, and they were sore amazed. And sore confused. And sore sore. And that is why, to this day, Ozes, Entities, and Eunuchs battle on the shores of the Pea Sea, but the people still travel on the simple Dosfish.

  24. fung0

    How to Win the OS Game

    Microsoft beat Amiga and GEM the same way it did everything else: by persisting longer and moving faster than the competition.

    I worked in GEM for years (using Ventura Publisher). It was a nice environment, but basically just a GUI, not an OS. I also spent time with the Amiga. It was a nice OS, if you could get anything done between Guru Meditation Errors. Neither platform evolved much, before eventually fading away.

    Windows 1.0 had a horrible UI, but it was well-architected, with features like multitasking, that neither Mac nor GEM could match. With the release of Windows 3.0, five years later, it had evolved into a slick, stable, attractive OS, while still offering a smooth migration path from the dominant platform of the time (DOS). With Windows NT, five years after that, Microsoft left all competition behind in the dust.

    Subsequent advances were much smaller. Windows 2000 brought the consumer UI to the Windows NT codebase. Windows XP was 2000 with a gaudier skin. Vista added DRM and transparency effects. Windows 7 fixed the problems of Vista. Windows 8 and 10 were sizable steps backward, adding only 'improvements' that benefited Microsoft, rather than the user. There is absolutely nothing you can do in Windows 10 that you couldn't do just as well in Windows 2000. That's 20 wasted years.

    Tragically, Microsoft was a great company only while it had actual competition. The Microsoft of today is a at best a caricature of its former greatness. When companies get to that stage, they never come back. The quicker we dump them, the sooner the digital world can surge forward once again.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: How to Win the OS Game

      Windows 1.0 had cooperative multitasking with non-overlapping windows making it the worst GUI implementation of its time. The Mac and GEM could manage overlapped windows, and the Amiga could do preemptive multitasking.

      As usual, version 1.0 of anything Microsoft did was terrible, it was bought anyway because MS was the de facto standard after IBM made it so, and then by version 2.0 it was a little less terrible.

      In Windows 3.0 multitasking was still cooperative and networking needed a special version of Windows. Windows 95 finally got to something approximating what the rest had a decade previously with preemptive multitasking and 'long' filenames. It took Windows 2000/XP to finally get a multiuser OS and effective memory protection between processes. Shame about the device driver BSODs.

      MS-DOS was what made MS what it is today, and it wasn't even their own work, but a bought-in copy of CP/M licenced on to IBM.

  25. Rogue Jedi

    with regards to the survey

    I chose fix windows 10, but I would be ok if they just stopped further breaking it every 2-3 months.

    Each feature (removal) update seems to break something major

    One broke HP network printing, another broke all wireless networking onthe laptops and tablets we have, another wiped user profiles, another removed devices from the domain, another broke our VPN, another broke our antivirus (or at least the way it interacted with another piece of security software) but it is company policy despite all these disasters to roll out updates as soon as they are available with no testing (if it is good enough for MS....)

    MS also keep modifying the (unchangable for anyone outside M$) fonts colours and layouts in Office 365, and in general trying to make the interface, icons ect as hard to diferentiate between and as ugly as they can, all I can conclude is they are trying to make O365 unusable for people with bad eyesight.

  26. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    My prediction is Bill will ditch the subscription model

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