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The Secret Origin of Windows

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the sounds-like-a-comic-book-character dept.

Windows 402

harrymcc writes "Windows has been so dominant for so long that it's easy to forget Windows 1.0 was vaporware, mocked both outside and inside of Microsoft — and that its immediate successors were considered stopgaps until OS/2 was everywhere. Tandy Trower, the product manager who finally got Windows 1.0 out the door a quarter century ago, has written a memoir of the experience. (He thought being assigned the much-maligned project was Microsoft's fiendish way of trying to get rid of him.) The story involves such still-significant figures as Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Ray Ozzie, and Nathan Myhrvold; Trower left Microsoft only in November of 2009 after 28 years with the company."

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402 comments

To be fair... (5, Funny)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31416692)

they also had Ballmer doing crazy commercials at that time. It was destined to do badly.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGvHNNOLnCk [youtube.com]

Destined to do badly? (2, Insightful)

heffrey (229704) | more than 4 years ago | (#31416998)

Guess it actually had a different destiny!

Re:Destined to do badly? (-1, Offtopic)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417292)

Destiny is bullshit.

You create your own future based on the work you put in and the luck you have.

But luck itself is bullshit.

Luck is just preparation and opportunity.

Don't talk to me about destiny.

Re:To be fair... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31417016)

That video was made in what, 1985? And Windows sold for $99 according to the ad.

Today, Windows 7 (NOT AN UPGRADE) [amazon.com] goes for $178.54 on Amazon and lists for $199. According to the Minneapolis Fed [minneapolisfed.org], $99 in 1985 is worth $200.21 in 2010 - in other Words, inflation adjusted, Microsoft hasn't raised the price of Windows. And if you include all of the programs that are included with Windows 7 that you would normally have had to have purchased separately back in '85 (compression, file management, image viewers, etc, etc...) Windows has gone down dramatically. Now, they've been labeled a monopoly in court, but they're pricing isn't that of a monopolist. Actually, they've given the consumer a really nice value.

Now, cue the MS haters who are going to accuse me of being an "apologist" and for being a "revisionist". Whatever. I just think it's an interesting micro economic case study.

BTW, get a life.

Re:To be fair... (5, Insightful)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417088)

Economists until very recently denied that the factor called "lock-in" even existed. Yes, a bunch of old stuffies insisting that what they say is the way the world works even when they miss some big pieces. I wish I could find the quote which showed that attitude however Google is now polluted so much with the phrase "lock-in" that it's all noise searching for when it wasn't that way. Left field: My operating system is Free, if everyone saw that obvious value and weren't tied to existing applications and data they'd all jump ship immediately and by doing so would also immediately raise my operating system's quality of code to amazing levels: just because of the weight of bug reports and new blood of code.

Re:To be fair... (2, Interesting)

Eirenarch (1099517) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417246)

if everyone saw that obvious value and weren't tied to existing applications and data they'd all jump ship immediately and by doing so would also immediately raise my operating system's quality of code to amazing levels: just because of the weight of bug reports and new blood of code.

Either that or your operating system would get forked millions of times instead of thousands.

Re:To be fair... (2, Insightful)

StayFrosty (1521445) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417318)

What OS is forked thousands of times? I'm pretty sure "forked" doesn't mean what you think it means.

Re:To be fair... (4, Interesting)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417324)

Cathedral and Bazaar time. What you trade off in speed of development with the bazaar you gain in robustness from Cathedral top-down error. It takes longer but you are less likely to run into an evolutionary dead-end from well-intentioned global decisions. Which is why it is good that FreeBSD kernels exist in addtion to Linux ones and perhaps when Hurd [gnu.org] becomes reality that will be genetic diversity as well. No single cause can kill them all.

Re:To be fair... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31417522)

Except by the time Hurd is released we'll all be dead so genetic diversity won't mean that much.

Unless you're a super-genius pythonic cockroach, of course.

Network-effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31417364)

Are you referring to the network effect [wikipedia.org]?

Still, MS could really sock it to us consumers and they don't. Now, on the corporate level, we get into some interesting things regarding that. But my original point was regarding the retail consumer.

Sub-Optimal (5, Informative)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417510)

Actually what I was referring to was: Sub-Optimal Solutions [google.ca]. Up to the '90s it was a great matter of debate in economics. Many "learned" professors denied that it existed and that a market would always find the optimal solution. With the introduction of "lock-in" as a concept it is recognized that while markets will find optimal solutions they can become "stuck" with sub-optimal ones for a while. The time-scales are what matter, a market may view a few decades as a blip while to you and I that is quite a while.

No thanks. (1)

Petersko (564140) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417684)

"Left field: My operating system is Free, if everyone saw that obvious value and weren't tied to existing applications and data they'd all jump ship immediately and by doing so would also immediately raise my operating system's quality of code to amazing levels: just because of the weight of bug reports and new blood of code."

I don't particularly care to contribute to the raising of your O/S's code quality. There are a couple of companies that already have working, polished products. I'll buy one of those. Being free isn't enough. It has to be free AND desirable. It's worth it to me to pay for something I like.

Re:To be fair... (4, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417208)

And if you include all of the programs that are included with Windows 7 that you would normally have had to have purchased separately back in '85 (compression, file management, image viewers, etc, etc...) Windows has gone down dramatically.

Especially because back then, you still needed MS-DOS to run underneath Windows.

Re:To be fair... (5, Informative)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417392)

Software should gain new features with each version. The addditional functionality of the OS should be a given over the years.

I'll give you that they aren't jacking the price of the Home version given the price in 1985, but have you seen their Enterprise Server pricing model?

Let's say you're a small business that needs 25 seats.

You pay for a server license for your domain controller, and a server license for a backup domain controller. Since you're a small shop, that is also the box you run Exchange off of. For both Windows Server and Exchange, you need CALs in addition to the server licenses.

Then each end user basically needs a SEPERATE client license from the CAL, since their individual desktop OSes need a license, and for email, they need Outlook licenses.

Shouldn't the server CAL effectively be the same thing as the client software license? They're double-dipping on what is already a very expensive license.

Home users pirate Windows en-masse, or get it pre-installed with their computer via a cheap OEM license bundled in. Microsoft makes their money on enterprise licensing, where they do jack their prices.

Re:To be fair... (1)

b0bby (201198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417682)

Let's say you're a small business that needs 25 seats.

You pay for a server license for your domain controller, and a server license for a backup domain controller. Since you're a small shop, that is also the box you run Exchange off of. For both Windows Server and Exchange, you need CALs in addition to the server licenses.

Then each end user basically needs a SEPERATE client license from the CAL, since their individual desktop OSes need a license, and for email, they need Outlook licenses.

If you're a small business that needs 25 seats you should buy SBS 2008, and the appropriate number of CALs. If you want a BDC, you buy the Premium version. You even get vm licenses. With 2008, you do need to buy Office or Outlook for Exchange access, unless your users are ok with the OWA (which is actually pretty good). I think the real money is made from larger enterprises, the SBS stuff is really pretty decently priced.

Re:To be fair... (5, Insightful)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417408)

to be REALLY fair, windows 7's market is bigger than Windows 1.0's was.1985 = 30 million PCs, 2007 = 1 billion PCs . Since costs are fairly fixed (dev accounts for a lot, DVD+packaging for almost nothing), we could expect the price to be $200 x 30 / 1,000 = $6, assuming stable dev costs, which they obviously weren't quite... but that raw calculation is no dumber than yours... actually may be a bit smarter .

Re:To be fair... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31417676)

Since costs are fairly fixed (dev accounts for a lot, DVD+packaging for almost nothing), we could expect the price to be $200 x 30 / 1,000 = $6, assuming stable dev costs.

But that is a ridiculous assumption. Vista cost 6 billion dollars to develop. Accounting for time, if dev costs were stable then Windows 1.0 should have cost 3 billion to develop. I'm pretty sure it didn't.

The OP has basically shown that in terms of % of disposable income, the price of Windows has not gone up. You are apparently arguing that Microsoft should not make more money when more people buy their products...

Re:To be fair... (2, Insightful)

Whalou (721698) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417696)

Don't forget that Microsoft saves a ton of money by not shipping Windows 7 on floppy disks.

Re:To be fair... (5, Insightful)

zennyboy (1002544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417414)

I think people mainly think of as % of a complete PC. PC then? $3-5000? Windows $99. Do the maths... Now, PC=£400 (dunno in $). Windows=$200... NOW do the maths...

Re:To be fair... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31417614)

Do the maths? Only one math is needed, a single division, and that's not really a math at all, just an arithmetic.

Re:To be fair... (1)

GigG (887839) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417498)

They haven't raised the price because it has been made up in volume. How many copies of that $99 version of Windows sold as compared with Windows 7? Any thing else with that sort of volume increase would be selling for $9.95 now.

Re:To be fair... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31417568)

Well, you're being rather selective here. Win2k was £300 ($450) when it came out. Hmmm, now when was that?

Re:To be fair... (2, Informative)

BatGnat (1568391) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417618)

it is not the price of MS software that was raising issues of monopolization, it was the heavy handed business practices, and forcing other competitors out of business...

Re:To be fair... (2, Funny)

j_presper_eckert (617907) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417220)

I'm so confused! This goes against everything that me and millions of others were taught. I was so *sure* that Windows had its origin in a golden, seductive ring of incalculable power...or was it a tower in Redmond topped by a lidless eye of flaming malice?

Re:To be fair... (1)

doomy (7461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417576)

If you thought that was crazy, see something recent.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-8IufkbuD0&NR

I still have a copy... (4, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 4 years ago | (#31416696)

...of Windows 1.02 (or was it 1.12) on 720k, 3.5" floppy. And no, I never used it - DOS was king and there were better file management programs at the time (which is all Win was at that point, iirc).

Re:I still have a copy... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31416738)

DOS was king and there were better file management programs at the time (which is all Win was at that point, iirc).

Xtree & Xtree Gold were premier apps during this DOS era.

Re:I still have a copy... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31416954)

Ahhh, xtree. I remember somehow finding this program on my dad's computer when I was 9 or 10. Then for whatever reason I opened some Ultima III files in the hex editor and suddenly discovered all the NPC dialogue for the whole game. Good stuff.

Re:I still have a copy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31417052)

sled

Re:I still have a copy... (2, Informative)

TRS80NT (695421) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417038)

"...better file management programs at the time..."
including from Microsoft itself. DOSSHELL, included with DOS 4?, 5? (been too long) was a file management and task switching environment that actually was more stable than Windows at the time. YMMHV (...May Have Varied)

XTree, Norton Commander, PC Valet, etc. (3, Interesting)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417072)

Not sure when NC actually came out, but I remember using several filemanagers back when I started (Windows 2.1 and MS-DOS 3.3). I remember a very nice little filemanager called PC Valet, and eventually also one called Stereo Shell that I used to almost live in. :-)

Isn't it still vaporware? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31416700)

Pipe firmly in mouth and cheek.

Re:Isn't it still vaporware? (4, Funny)

calibre-not-output (1736770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31416754)

Actually the product's quality has declined quite a bit since the golden days of Windows 1.0 - now it's bloated vaporware. No wonder they've decided to invest in the cloud.

Re:Isn't it still vaporware? (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417362)

Vapourware is product that's not delivered. The general rule in software is that if your best friend, whom you trust with your life, promises that the software will ship tomorrow, DOES NOT EXIST until you get it in your hands. See also -> Nukem, Duke: Forever.

M$ Windows may be bloated and hilarious to spell with a $ instead of an S, but I can go buy it. It's not vapourware.

A fantastic read! THANK YOU! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31416704)

That was a tremendous read. Thank you for writing that, Tandy.

MS (2, Interesting)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31416710)

It's just like MS. They may not succeed at first... Actually, they never succeed at first try, at anything.

And yet, they manage eventually - see how they kicked out Trevor in the end. It's no coincidence.

Re:MS (3, Interesting)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 4 years ago | (#31416770)

It's just like MS. They may not succeed at first... Actually, they never succeed at first try, at anything.

Hence some people won't touch anything Microsoft until the third major release.

Re:MS (1)

pluther (647209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417460)

I remember a timeline they had out in ads back in 1989 that mentioned among other things that Windows 3.1 was "The world's first graphic operating system."

Even if it had been true that Windows was first, I kept wondering at the time what about versions 1 or 2 or even 3.0?

Oi woz there (4, Interesting)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#31416766)

I remember the feeble beginnings of Windows quite well. I started purchasing Windows with 1.04, and started using it with 3.0.

I used to list "Windows 1.0 - [current version]" on the skills section of my resume, but too many interviewers thought I was joking, because they'd never heard of such a thing (and it started making me look like I might be over 30). One of them seriously thought Windows started with 95.

Re:Oi woz there (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#31416814)

I started purchasing Windows with 1.04, and started using it with 3.0.

Wow, so you were buying software that you weren't even using. That is.... I don't even know what. "Special" maybe.

Re:Oi woz there (2, Insightful)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 4 years ago | (#31416948)

Back before Bit Torrent, sometimes you actually had to pay for software before you'd know if it was any good.

Re:Oi woz there (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417002)

Or you know, ask someone else, or read reviews of it, or any number of other things.

What would even compel someone to bother checking out windows ever again after seeing Windows 1? Was he just buying every version of every piece of software on the shelves, just to see if it was any good?

Re:Oi woz there (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31417082)

The problem with 'just asking someone' is at the time very few people had experience with it. Ask them about windows and they would say 'anderson or pela?'. It probably wasnt up on an BBS's to 'just try out'. So yes you ordered it and gave it a go. Realized it was crap. Waited a few versions and try again.

DOS while 'ok for its time'. Was mind numbly tedious to use. So any sort of gui was a good idea. The problem with windows was too little memory to run it AND your applications properly.

Re:Oi woz there (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417104)

Perhaps not every piece of software, perhaps just the software that fit in the category he was interested in? Such as replacements/shells for DOS.

Especially as, as mentioned, Windows 1.0 had a 'rep' already.

Re:Oi woz there (1)

Reece400 (584378) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417194)

Or you'd borrow a copy of a copy of someone else's floppyies... or download a copy from a BBS over a few nights...

Re:Oi woz there (1)

geekprime (969454) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417438)

Ahem,
There is a real difference between knowing it well enough to fix it and using it as your main OS.
I have a Mac Mini under my desk and have used it to learn OSX, connecting it to existing networks & supporting it and it's apps for people, but it's far from being something I USE on a daily basis.

Re:Oi woz there (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417556)

One of them seriously thought Windows started with 95.

Well, there you have someone who won’t get your work anytime soon. ^^

Different, new types of GUI? (2, Insightful)

sageres (561626) | more than 4 years ago | (#31416794)

Windows has been around for 25 years, and the windowing GUI probably longer (I believe Bill took the concept from Steve who took the concept from Xerox). And lets face it, Compiz does not qualify as a new type of GUI. I would love to see a brand new concepts, such as Sun's Looking Glass https://lg3d.dev.java.net/ [java.net] (now defunct) (or perhaps even better ideas then that, anyone knows of any?) But it would be nice to get more innovation in that department.

Re:Different, new types of GUI? (1)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31416992)

No one needs innovation. We just need simplicity and reliability. Still I expect KDE 4.5 would meet all my needs.

But generally speaking Desktop Environments are obsolete.

Re:Different, new types of GUI? (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417142)

What do you think this? "But generally speaking Desktop Environments are obsolete."

Re:Different, new types of GUI? (1)

ctishman (545856) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417238)

In the consumer realm, I agree. They stand between the user and the content which is their end goal. Consumers want a webpage-like interface without having to learn a desktop metaphor.

Re:Different, new types of GUI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31417524)

@ ctishman

I wish to destroy you and all your ilk.
Consumers want things that WORK and do not CHANGE without their knowledge AND consent.
Sticking everything in a browser interface is not an answer, it's a crappy lazy hack.

When the only tool you have is a hammer, every answer is a nail.

Re:Different, new types of GUI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31417658)

Except that users keep asking 'where's my stuff'? To say, on the web is a meaningless answer to them. Show them a directory where their mish-mash of MS-Word documents and photos are and they get it.

Re:Different, new types of GUI? (2, Insightful)

mini me (132455) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417044)

would love to see a brand new concepts

You mean like iPhone OS? Call the iPad a gimmick if you want, but it does bring with it a brand new concept on human-computer interaction. One that I feel will carry over into traditional keyboard/mouse computing in the future.

Re:Different, new types of GUI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31417234)

iPhone OS has more in common with Windows 1.0's GUI than you might expect. Single, full screen apps? We got that!

Required Reading for Geeks (1)

Liquidrage (640463) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417056)

http://www.pbs.org/nerds/part3.html [pbs.org]

It's a bit old by now, but the history is still interesting and meaningful.

http://www.pbs.org/nerds/part2.html [pbs.org]
http://www.pbs.org/nerds/part1.html [pbs.org]

They can really be read in any order.

Anyways, I don't think stole is the right word. Xerox gave it away. Jobs was 100% obsessed with it. Gates saw it as the wave of the future. The GUI wasn't a secret by the time it got to Gates. But it was done by Xerox who was too busy worrying about laser printing (which oddly is the main reason the Macs survived at all through the late 80's) to care.

Could Explain my Vista Pain (1)

PingPongBoy (303994) | more than 4 years ago | (#31416890)

Tandy Trower, the product manager who finally got Windows 1.0 out the door a quarter century ago, has written a memoir of the experience. (He thought being assigned the much-maligned project was Microsoft's fiendish way of trying to get rid of him.) The story involves such still-significant figures as Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Ray Ozzie, and Nathan Myhrvold; Trower left Microsoft only in November of 2009 after 28 years with the company."

It's boggled my mind why Search Indexer in Vista has been killing my computer with no benefit. Stopping it has resulted in instant gratification, but I couldn't fathom what the reason could be for it to work my hard disk so hard.

The Revenge of Tandy Trower! But I can't wait for the next version of Windows so you have the last laugh, Tandy.

Re:Could Explain my Vista Pain (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417368)

Yeah, I can. Basically the indexer is indexing things so you can find them faster in the future. How often do you really search for things? I don't search my computer very much at all. So basically indexing everything to reduce the time it takes to find a file from 10 minutes to 10 seconds wouldn't be worth the cpu ( and HD IOPS) it took to achieve that. Plus, it might not be restricting itself to relevant files, and looking at all files. If you could easily specify specific locations and file types to index, that would help as well. If it makes you feel better I do not allow indexing of my email ,or use any indexer on my linux machines either. They just universally suck for my usage.

25 years and only 7 versions? (3, Funny)

coofercat (719737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31416900)

1985: Windows 1.0
2010: Windows 7

1 release every 3.5 years? At that sort of rate you'd think they'd be completely bug free ;-)

PS. Article is in 3 pages that will take you about 3.5 years to read, and another 3.5 regretting.

Re:25 years and only 7 versions? (3, Informative)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417606)

Windows 1
Windows 2
Windows 3
Windows NT 3.1
Windows 3.11 for Workgroups
Windows NT 3.5
Windows 95
Windows NT 4
Windows 98
Windows 98SE
Windows ME
Windows 2000 (with Pro, Advanced, etc. etc.)
Windows XP
Windows XP x64
Windows Media Center 2005
Windows Tablet
Windows Vista
Windows Media Center 2008
Windows Media Center 2008 R2
Windows 7

I can honestly say I've used everything from Windows 3.1 on, except the Tablet edition. Windows CE, Server, and Mobile editions were left out.

ancient history (5, Interesting)

Speare (84249) | more than 4 years ago | (#31416904)

This brings back memories for me, too. I got my start before IBM came out with their first PC. My dad owned an early PC, and I used PC-DOS and MS-DOS versions up through the whole bleeding history. I used Windows 1.0 on those lovely old monochrome monitors, and was working on a GUI for a data collection circuit in college. Then 2.0/286/etc. with the proportional fonts and an untiled desktop. I beta-tested for 3.0, and joined Microsoft in time to be a part of the Windows 3.1 development team. Those were the fun days; most of those who hated Microsoft just preferred the technologies in other products from Lotus, Borland, or various Unix providers. And that was really just fine with everyone. Everyone but Microsoft management, of course. Managers steered the ship ever more steadily to the dark side, building on their success with monopoly-abusing deals and secret contracts with the OEMs. Ship a CPU, pay for Windows whether you use it or not. I left the company (for unrelated reasons) around the time when "Windows 95" was still code-named "Chicago," and that code name had just replaced the earlier code name: "Windows 93."

By the way, if anyone has an unmodified copy of Win3.10 (not 3.11) USER.EXE, shoot me an email. I've lost some of my ancient archives and would like to snag some of the resources in that file.

Still mocked, and rightly so. (0, Troll)

newdsfornerds (899401) | more than 4 years ago | (#31416930)

Your Windows box is a fun playground for criminals of all stripes, from script kiddies to mafiosos. Always will be.

Windows 1 was a failure, but... (1, Informative)

kiehlster (844523) | more than 4 years ago | (#31416940)

vaporware it certainly was not. Did the subby not read the article? Vaporware means there is speculation or announcement of a product that is never released to the public. I have a copy of Windows 1 laying around that my father purchased for business use. We don't have Windows 2.0 or 2.1, and we do have 3.0, 3.1 and 3.11 and 3.11 for workgroups. I'm thinking 2.0 had a fallout in the business world or something like that.

Re:Windows 1 was a failure, but... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31417032)

vaporware it certainly was not. Did the subby not read the article?

Did you? Per the article, Windows 1.0 was several years late. During that considerable period, Windows was a product which had been announced but not delivered. Thus it was (past tense) vaporware.

Re:Windows 1 was a failure, but... (1)

kiehlster (844523) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417400)

When I think of vaporware, I think of software that has vaporized; not software that's still being worked on. A good example of vaporware is Duke Nukem Forever. This is where a company promises a product, teases the public and then cancels the project. I can even go as far as software that was scrapped and then restarted from scratch after being cancelled. Microsoft may have had their own doubts about Windows coming to fruition, but they still had people working on it and I'm sure those people didn't have doubts about it aside from heading upper management grumbling about being embarrassed by the public for the delays.

announcing windows was vaporware (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417144)

When the Mac came out, Bill said they were working on a graphical interface. Barely.

Once again Inigo Montoya says: (0, Troll)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31416962)

You keep using that word "vaporware". I do not think it means what you think it means. ...

Ah The Good Ol' Days (3, Interesting)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417054)

I remember an early version of Windows (Maybe 2?) on a PC at a university where my dad taught. It was kind of crappy -- looked sort of like Apple's ProDOS. Not much more than a file shell, really. Later on I picked up a job doing OS/2 V2 tech support at IBM. There weren't many OS/2 version 1 installs inside the support organization at that point, but they had to keep a few since the Navy was still on V1.2 and some big banks still used 1.3 in their ATMs. OS/2 version 1 looked exactly like windows 3.1.

I used to say at the time that if they wanted to illustrate the difference between OS/2 and windows, they could just format a floppy on OS/2 while continuing to do other stuff. Not that OS/2 was a whole lot better about stuff like that -- not many developers actually threaded their applications, and so a single misbehaving app could lock up the OS by not processing its input queue messages. You still see symptoms of that in Windows today, although it's not as bad as it used to be.

They tried to fix that and some of the other OS/2 problems in Warp, but warp (IMO) looked like ass and didn't work as well as V2. The problem with IBM is they're used to listening to their corporate customers and wouldn't know sexy OS design if you beat them over the head with it. Fortunately Linux was just getting popular right around that time and so when IBM strangled the baby (You can tell I'm still a bit bitter about it eh? Heh heh heh) a lot of us were able to jump ship. Linux was pretty much everything I ever wanted in an operating system, anyway. I'm on OSX at the moment, but once you get past its pretty looks you realize that it just won't bend the way you want it to.

So... anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, Get off my lawn, you damn kids!

Anyone remember reversie? (2, Interesting)

coreolyn (65876) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417062)

I'm not sure I spelled that right, but anyway, Microsoft did manage to unload a boatload of V1.0 on the Navy at the least. I remember playing with it on the 286's the military had no clue what to do with. Instead of the infamous solitaire game it use to have reversie - a digital version of the othello game.

Even years late I was still happier with DOS 6.1 and Quarterdeck memory/application management. It was the only way to go to host a BBS and still have a little room to work on it while it was up.

Ah the good 'ol days when I was considered a genius simply because I did my own memory upgrades to my Tandy 1000...

Re:Anyone remember reversie? (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417222)

You used Windows 1.0 in the Navy? Can't imagine why you'd be attracted to a program called Quarterdeck, then.

Re:Anyone remember reversie? (2, Interesting)

coreolyn (65876) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417384)

The navy had no clue what to do with the x286 Dos based PC's and just had piles of them sitting lifeless in corners. Most work was done in CPM. PIP'n this and PIP'n that ;)

Re:Anyone remember reversie? (1)

cbope (130292) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417480)

Ah, Desqview. And it was Reversi, without the e on the end. Speaking of BBS's, how about Opus?

Am I dating myself a bit?

Re:Anyone remember reversie? (2, Interesting)

nsaspook (20301) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417610)

I'm not sure I spelled that right, but anyway, Microsoft did manage to unload a boatload of V1.0 on the Navy at the least. I remember playing with it on the 286's the military had no clue what to do with. Instead of the infamous solitaire game it use to have reversie - a digital version of the othello game.

Even years late I was still happier with DOS 6.1 and Quarterdeck memory/application management. It was the only way to go to host a BBS and still have a little room to work on it while it was up.

Ah the good 'ol days when I was considered a genius simply because I did my own memory upgrades to my Tandy 1000...

I did contracting for NAVSEA and NAVMASSO back then on the SNAP program. We sold a lot of 286 boxes just so people could run WordStar on DOS and WordMARC on PCs. I still have (somewhere) my old DOS 1.0 , Netscape 1.0 and Windows 1.0 disks.

Re:Anyone remember reversie? (2, Funny)

schon (31600) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417674)

the 286's the military had no clue what to do with

I find it hard to believe that the Navy couldn't recognize a boat anchor when it saw one.

/me ducks :)

I never could get it load on my Timex-Sinclair (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417134)

You know, I never could get it to load on my Timex Sinclair, but then, nobody needs more than 640k of RAM, right?

Somewhere I have an old Win 1.0 copy, probably next to my old CP/M floppies and my Apple II+ (dual DD, 172k RAM (128k board used to load the floppy into RAM to speed up access 1000 times)).

We used to have fun figuring out which CP/M commands Bill stole when he "wrote" it.

Re:I never could get it load on my Timex-Sinclair (0, Offtopic)

vistapwns (1103935) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417350)

nobody needs more than 640k is BS, Bill Gates never said that, and it was IBM's fault (they chose the 8086 that was 16-bit and thus limited to 640k for programs and 384k for bios/video) that MS-DOS was stuck with 640k. But since IBM is a darling of the linux community these days, we get all this revisionist copy-cat troll nonsense instead of facts. Great.

Re:I never could get it load on my Timex-Sinclair (0, Troll)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417552)

Oh, bit shift your A2 register, you MSFT shill.

Seriously, you probably don't even know that China owns Lenova (IBM thinkpad) now.

I was hand-soldering S100 bus computers and tuning my floppy drives with a screwdriver before you were in diapers.

I've still got a Win 1.04 SDK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31417148)

c/w the Windows install disk on 5.25" floppies.

Two thick beige Microsoft ringbinders (with the very old logo).

Says it all really

I've also got a strategy game "Guns and Butter" that was released with a Win 1 runtime environment, so you could run it on your IBM XT without having to go the whole hog and actually install the full Windows environment on top of DOS 2.11.

Windows 2, and Windows 286/386 was crap.

Windows 3 started to make sense.

Re:I've still got a Win 1.04 SDK (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417468)

Digital Research had a DOS product and a GUI product that had MS products beat hands down. There was no technical reason to use Windows until 3.1 and then only if you preferred Word or other MS product. At the time, in my business life, Novell clearly understood networking, MS not so much. When Windows95 came out and did not require a copy of DOS, MS began it's dubious selling tactics, and we all know how that worked out. Real innovation happened rarely, and was more often than not squelched. Apple did a bit, MS bought some companies that did a bit, then Linus stepped up. That's a brief summary. MS did not revolutionize the world, they just made everyone buy a copy of Windows. Anyone remember the NeXT systems? There have been better ways to do things than Windows since day one. You can argue, but it's true. Rough cut is that Windows managed to work for most things most of the time so MS got away with forcing everyone to pay for a license for it. If you can't get around paying for it, you might as well use it.

I'm not saying that the people who worked on windows are bad people, just that on technical merits it should already have died long ago.

Sorry AC, just threw out a whole box of late 80s/early 90s install stuff (Win, DR, IBM DOS etc)

I thought the story went something like this: (-1, Troll)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417294)

I thought the story was something like this:

Gates saw demonstrations from Xerox and wanted to copy what they were doing. He was also stealing some concepts from Apple. He asked IBM to bank-roll him, promising to develop OS/2 for IBM as the operating system to end all operating systems.

Secretly, they were working on Windows, while also semi-sabotaging OS/2. So they were basically defrauding IBM of money to fund Windows production, which didn't really turn into much of a real product until Windows 3.1.

Is there some other secrets to the origin story I'm missing?

Re:I thought the story went something like this: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31417680)

Citation needed.

Re:I thought the story went something like this: (1)

frist (1441971) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417694)

Yeah you're missing a lot, like most of it. Take a gander at "In Search of Stupidity: OVER 20 YEARS OF HIGH-TECH MARKETING DISASTERS", SECOND EDITION". Much better / more accurate that that movie you watched, "Pirates of Silicon Valley". Apple stole from Xerox because Xerox failed. I enjoyed using OS/2 2.0 personally, but 1.0 had no GUI... IBM screwed themselves over so many times.

Vaporware or "Bug"ware.... whats the difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31417372)

I was there with many of you. Win 1.0 (as was V2) was largely a failure because of lack of applications, poor hardware support, segmented memory (meaning 286 had a completely dysfunctional memory management scheme, even with tools which came later like EMM386), and a host of other problems.

It would load and run, but it was basically a demo o/s with a buggy MFC library. It just sucked as a development platform and it was worse as a commercial platform for even business apps, let alone high performance games which have become the real test of a platforms commercial viability.

Kind of reminds me of every MS Win version since then ... ;-) but in all honesty, V1 (and V2) showed what was possible. Both the hardware and software would have to improve (via flat 386 address space), speed, memory, etc. before it would have enough ROI to make it practical for anything but larger businesses. It's probably good that both V1 and V2 had the problems they did, they needed to suffer to enable what they have become... something increasingly stable, and commercially viable if not scalable and reliable.

Now if only we could have someone with a real vision to do the platform planning... we could insure MS/Intel success into the year 2015..... Oops.

The secret origin of windows... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31417396)

Holes in the wall?

Re:The secret origin of windows... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31417544)

Little, uh, dirty holes, they, uh, drill in the walls so they can watch a lady undress. You'd be surprised what a guy'll go through to get a glimpse of a beautiful body!

Windows history (5, Interesting)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417516)

I remember Windows. Back when I used to work for a little fly-by-night aerospace firm just down the road from Microsoft. We (engineering) were all using Macs for our 'productivity' applications. Serious work was done on VAX and various flavors of UNIX on mainframes/minis. It was the mid-90's. Windows had already been 'released' through version 3, but our IT department still considered it to be a joke. Unfortunately, someone in corporate had already drank the Microsoft Koolaide. The order was issued: We're going to become a Windows company. A cost justification was prepared, comparing a typical Mac, populated with every possible document/spreadsheet/database application to a bare bones DOS box. No Windows, no apps. Nothing but a C:> prompt. The DOS box won (go figure) and we all figured that the fix was in. The IT folks, under orders from management, started delivering empty DOS machines to our desks (Dells). So we could watch the little cursor blink, I guess. Meanwhile, the IT department was kicked into panic mode. They were tasked with running over to Redmond and sitting on Gates' head until MS delivered something that didn't stink. Meanwhile, for about 3 months, that damned machine just sat on my desk next to my Mac, taking up room, winking its stupid cursor at me.

At about this time, Linux passed the 1.0 kernel version and started to look interesting. I requested the requisite authorizations and installed it on the useless Dell. I never looked back. I could log on to any of the engineering systems through X Windows and (thanks to a Citrix app) eventually access MS Office apps hosted on remote NT servers. Until I left in 2003 (when they transferred engineering to their overseas units) I ran Linux on my desktop. So, thanks Microsoft. I you'd have had a viable GUI back then, I'd probably still be sitting in front of it reading PowerPoint presentations (the only thing the remains of our engineering group uses) innstead of running my own engineering firm.

Why would anyone buy Windows before 95? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31417554)

I know this sounds trollish, but my gods, why would anyone have bought Windows before Win 95? I bought a Mac II and had years and years of desktop publishing joy from it and remember the Hades that was DOS/Windows in those days. Is it really all about the cost of a cheapo IBM-compatible and not at all about actually getting work done??

a history of the personal computer (0, Offtopic)

viralMeme (1461143) | more than 4 years ago | (#31417662)

"This book is an exciting history of the personal computer [retrocomputing.net] revolution. Early personal computing, the "first" personal computer, invention of the microprocessor at Intel and the first microcomputer are detailed.

It also traces the evolution of the personal computer from the hardware and software hacker, to its use as a consumer appliance on the Internet. This is the only book that provides such comprehensive coverage. It not only describes the hardware and software, but also the companies and people who made it happened
"
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