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20th Anniversary of Windows

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the looking-back dept.

Windows 546

UltimaGuy writes "When Windows first shipped, 20 years ago this month, it was considered nothing more than a slow operating environment that had arrived late to the party, well behind the industry leaders, Apple and Xerox PARC. Now, it's the operating system used on nearly 95 percent of all the desktops and notebooks sold worldwide. Take a look at Window's past and present, and what lies ahead in the future, including an interview with Mr. Bill Gates himself."

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546 comments

Windows (3, Funny)

murdie (197627) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789179)

Plus que ca change, plus que c'est la meme chose.

Re:Windows (4, Funny)

BarryNorton (778694) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789194)

"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose"

Re:Windows (1)

NeedleSurfer (768029) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789269)

"Plus ça change, plus c'est pareil"

Dam if you are to write in french to look intelligent write correctly, if you are to correct someone who wrote in french too look even more intelligent correct him correctly. ;)

Re:Windows (4, Funny)

BarryNorton (778694) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789289)

Oh, the irony...

It's 'French', 'damn', you're missing two commas, your comma should be an semi-colon and my quote is correct (not that yours isn't - English is your weakness).

Re:Windows (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13789331)

Clippy says: You look like you typing a letter in French. Would you like help with that?

What's changed? (5, Insightful)

RootsLINUX (854452) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789185)

"When Windows first shipped, 20 years ago this month, it was considered nothing more than a slow operating environment that had arrived late to the party,"

Okay.....so how is it any different today? Viruses/spyware and/or anti-virus/spyware software continually slow it down, and all that Microsoft seems to do lately is copy the innovative things that its rivals do, so its still always late to the party.

Re:What's changed? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13789280)

Maybe you should read the next sentence:

Now, it's the operating system used on nearly 95 percent of all the desktops and notebooks sold worldwide.

Re:What's changed? (3, Insightful)

dorkygeek (898295) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789295)

Maybe you should read the next sentence:
Now, it's the operating system used on nearly 95 percent of all the desktops and notebooks sold worldwide.

Which does not make it any faster or more secure though.

Re:What's changed? (2, Insightful)

vagabond_gr (762469) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789283)

Okay.....so how is it any different today?

Today, Windows' damage to humanity has been multiplied by .95 times the number of world's computer users.

Well, to be fair, Windows has transformed personal computers from a happy hippie hacker's toy to a world phenomenon. Of course this may have happened in spite of and not because of Windows, still it has to be said.

Another Thing That Hasn't Changed (2, Insightful)

capt.Hij (318203) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789327)

First, windows is getting better, but it sure seems like a slow grind.

More importantly, there is another thing that is not changing. The Wall Street Journal has an article today that confirms its previous reports of Google in talks with Time-Warner about giving them money to prop up AOL.

Nothing has changed. Every time a potential challenger to MS pops up, the challenger kills itself off through its own hubris. Once again, the folks at MS sit in Redmond and laugh all the way to the bank while Google is throwing its money away. Intense focus on small incremental changes for MS has turned them into a money making machine.

I think a lot, around Windows 2000 era. (5, Insightful)

Nailer (69468) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789339)

I used to get really exited about Windows. Betas of Windows 98 and NT 4 at home, Systernals tools, things like TweakUI, an NT 4 era MCSE, caring about the differences between Windows 95 OSR2 and OSR1, etc.

I kinda stopped being interested shortly after Windows 2000. What happened? Well nothing. Before Windows 2000, you had Windows 98, which was unstable, and Windows NT 4, which was a bastard to use (in particular, it had no Plug and Play support).

Then there was Windows 2000, and it was more stable and still easy to use.
Windows XP could hav been a Windows 2000 service pack. A better themable UI, a minor IE update, some utilities to do things like registry snapshots that were useful, but always available as cheap third party tools. No big deal. XP SP 2 was the same, except the firewall was so bad you still needed a third party firewall. And yeah, spyware got more popular in the last few years, so you need antispyware tools now too.

There have been no significant improvements since Windows 2000. Meanwhile, about 1998, I saw a screenshot of Enlightenment. I wanted Enlightenment. Linux came with the bargain. Linux was tweakable to my hearts content. And also really difficult. And I'd use it for a little while,. then mess it up or find something I couldn't do, then go back to Windows.

The thing is, Linux seemed to be improving. Things that seemed to buy me about Linux were bugging other people too. I went from Red Hat 5.2 to Mandrake, which had a nicer GUI, KDE. Then Red Hat 6 came out, and it had KDE plus a simpler GUI installer. Woo. And tools to notice new hardware and configure it. And I started learning about Linux, cause it was nice and tweakable and interesting.

After a while, I'd want to do something in Linux I couldn't do in Windows. First it was pull down sequences of files using wget. In Windows you'd need to fetch and install some trialware crap to do that, and Linux came with the tool. Then it was use Evolution. Then I found smssend, which was cool as hell. Meanwhile, Gnome got quite decent, so I switched to that. These days, Windows has ...what? A crap web browser, an IM that only does MSN (Linux does AOL, ICQ, Yahoo, and Jabber, aka Google), a crap mail client (compared to Evolution - check hotwayd if you need to check Hotmail), OpenOffice 2 (yeah, I think OO 1 was crap too) a good firewall out of the box, no spyware hassles, and the ability to install and upgrade my apps/hardware without rebooting for every single one, over and over again. Sure, you could install all this stuff in Windows, but you have to find it and pay for it and reboot and reboot and reboot. If Linux fucks up, all the config files are documented and I can fix it. There's even useful shit like strace in the OS. If Windows fucks up, most of the registry isn't documented and Systernals tools are expensive as hell.

Meanwhile, I and my Linux buddies had finished Grand Theft Auto on the PS2 while most of my remaining Windows using mates were waiting for it to be released.

What's changed is that a lot of people like it (5, Interesting)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789366)

What's changed is that, as the article says, 95% of computers run Windows. It may not be the fastest. (But then again, I'm writing this in Konqueror on a Gnome desktop, and... well, it seems to me that Windows XP on my gaming machine does boot faster, and renders a lot faster. Maybe because it doesn't render and antialias everything in software.) It may not be _the_ one that discovered the wheel. Etc. But a lot of people like it anyway. It's an achievent they can be proud of.

In a sense, the old wisecrack "Saying that Windows is better because more people use it, is like saying that McDonalds is the best restaurant" actually applies there. For a lot of people, McDonalds _is_ the better choice, or they would go eat somewhere else.

Choosing a restaurant isn't just a matter of who has the best cuisine and the rarest wines, but a compromise that also includes stuff like:

- price (self-explaining)

- time (maybe I just want to pick my hamburger and be on my way, not wait an hour while the chef prepares a complicated 5-star meal)

- accessibility and/or personal effort involved (if the 5 star restaurant is in the next town, and the McDonalds is right around the corner, you can guess where I'll eat. Doubly so if I have to drive home first and get a suit and tie for the 5 star restaurant.)

- familiarity (I already know what a cheeseburger and a Cola taste like. Maybe I don't have the time or inclination right now to figure out wth 'escargot provencal avec champignons' or 'canard a l'orange' even mean, or which of them I might even like, and if I want a Chateauneuf Sauvignon or a Valadilene Pinot Gris with either.)

- personal taste (maybe I actually _like_ a chickenburger, or not wearing a tie while I eat it.)

- social perception/acceptability (if I were a teenager taking my punk gang to a restaurant, chances are some snotty Chez Lex establishment would just make them uncomfortable)

Etc.

Yes, McDonalds didn't invent hamburgers or Cola, they're latecomers, etc. But people choose to go eat there anyway. Go figure.

Well, the same applies to OS's. If you factor in the whole mile-long list of reasons, and not just take one aspect out of context, for a lot of people Windows actually is the best choice. So, well, I'd say MS has reason enough to celebrate there.

20th post (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13789187)

20th post

Congrats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13789190)

Can't help but congratulate Bill and Balmer on their success :)

Re:Congrats (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13789361)

And commiserate the rest of the world on their failure :-(

Nothing new (2, Insightful)

DDiabolical (902284) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789191)

When Windows first shipped, 20 years ago this month, it was considered nothing more than a slow operating environment that had arrived late to the party, well behind the industry leaders

So, nothing has changed then!

A whole lot of effort (3, Funny)

Timberwolf0122 (872207) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789193)

When Windows first shipped, 20 years ago this month, it was considered nothing more than a slow operating environment


20 years and billions in R&D and the only change is in Longhorn we have RSOD aswell as BSOD. 20 years well spent I think./

Re:A whole lot of effort (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13789302)

RSOD has been in Windows since NT 4 Server at least. Thats where I first saw it, so it's certainly not new.

age (1)

furrywithwings (851094) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789202)

Age does not beget quality. By that virture octogenarians should be the best quality people around, and they aren't! Someone insert some witty windows-creaks-like-an-old-person comment.

Re:age (4, Funny)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789211)

Age does not beget quality. By that virture octogenarians should be the best quality people around, and they aren't! Someone insert some witty windows-creaks-like-an-old-person comment.

We use UNIX. We shouldn't be making cracks about using an ancient OS.

Re:age (5, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789374)

Someone insert some witty windows-creaks-like-an-old-person comment.

Windows is not old. UNIX is old, and behaves as many older people do, working calmly and quietly in the background, running everything.

Windows is 20 years of age, and like most 20-year olds, is annoying, unable to multi-task well, and thinks the world revolves around it.

Linux is still too hard for the average user (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13789206)


Linux is *not* user friendly, and until it is linux will stay with >1% marketshare.

Take installation. Linux zealots are now saying "oh installing is so easy, just do apt-get install package or emerge package": Yes, because typing in "apt-get" or "emerge" makes so much more sense to new users than double-clicking an icon that says "setup".

Linux zealots are far too forgiving when judging the difficultly of Linux configuration issues and far too harsh when judging the difficulty of Windows configuration issues. Example comments:

User: "How do I get Quake 3 to run in Linux?"
Zealot: "Oh that's easy! If you have Redhat, you have to download quake_3_rh_8_i686_010203_glibc.bin, then do chmod +x on the file. Then you have to su to root, make sure you type export LD_ASSUME_KERNEL=2.2.5 but ONLY if you have that latest libc6 installed. If you don't, don't set that environment variable or the installer will dump core. Before you run the installer, make sure you have the GL drivers for X installed. Get them at [some obscure web address], chmod +x the binary, then run it, but make sure you have at least 10MB free in /tmp or the installer will dump core. After the installer is done, edit /etc/X11/XF86Config and add a section called "GL" and put "driver nv" in it. Make sure you have the latest version of X and Linux kernel 2.6 or else X will segfault when you start. OK, run the Quake 3 installer and make sure you set the proper group and setuid permissions on quake3.bin. If you want sound, look here [link to another obscure web site], which is a short HOWTO on how to get sound in Quake 3. That's all there is to it!"

User: "How do I get Quake 3 to run in Windows?"
Zealot: "Oh God, I had to install Quake 3 in Windoze for some lamer friend of mine! God, what a fucking mess! I put in the CD and it took about 3 minutes to copy everything, and then I had to reboot the fucking computer! Jesus Christ! What a retarded operating system!"

So, I guess the point I'm trying to make is that what seems easy and natural to Linux geeks is definitely not what regular people consider easy and natural. Hence, the preference towards Windows.

Re:Linux is still too hard for the average user (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13789241)

This is the third time I've seen this post in as many months. Do you keep it in a textfile on your PC?

Re:Linux is still too hard for the average user (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13789368)

This is the third time I've seen this post in as many months. Do you keep it in a textfile on your PC?

More likely a .doc

Re:Linux is still too hard for the average user (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13789255)

Linux is *not* user friendly, and until it is linux will stay with >1% marketshare.

Take installation. Linux zealots are now saying "oh installing is so easy, just do apt-get install package or emerge package": Yes, because typing in "apt-get" or "emerge" makes so much more sense to new users than double-clicking an icon that says "setup".

Linux zealots are far too forgiving when judging the difficultly of Linux configuration issues and far too harsh when judging the difficulty of Windows configuration issues. Example comments:

User: "How do I get Quake 3 to run in Linux?"
Zealot: "Oh that's easy! If you have Redhat, you have to download quake_3_rh_8_i686_010203_glibc.bin, then do chmod +x on the file. Then you have to su to root, make sure you type export LD_ASSUME_KERNEL=2.2.5 but ONLY if you have that latest libc6 installed. If you don't, don't set that environment variable or the installer will dump core. Before you run the installer, make sure you have the GL drivers for X installed. Get them at [some obscure web address], chmod +x the binary, then run it, but make sure you have at least 10MB free in /tmp or the installer will dump core. After the installer is done, edit /etc/X11/XF86Config and add a section called "GL" and put "driver nv" in it. Make sure you have the latest version of X and Linux kernel 2.6 or else X will segfault when you start. OK, run the Quake 3 installer and make sure you set the proper group and setuid permissions on quake3.bin. If you want sound, look here [link to another obscure web site], which is a short HOWTO on how to get sound in Quake 3. That's all there is to it!"

User: "How do I get Quake 3 to run in Windows?"
Zealot: "Oh God, I had to install Quake 3 in Windoze for some lamer friend of mine! God, what a fucking mess! I put in the CD and it took about 3 minutes to copy everything, and then I had to reboot the fucking computer! Jesus Christ! What a retarded operating system!"

So, I guess the point I'm trYing tO make is That what seems easy and natuRal tO Linux geeks is definitely nOt what reguLar people consider easy and natural. Hence, the preference towards Windows.

Re:Linux is still too hard for the average user (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13789297)

plz shut the hell up

Windows User:lol i'm gonna post the same thing over and over again to make linux look stupid lol i am so witty makeing myself look like a idiot and makeing all windows users look like unimaginative dumb asses

Dual-Booter:plz shut the hell up

Re:Linux is still too hard for the average user (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13789322)

Everything to configure X is in xorg.conf. If X won't run, 90% of the time all you have to do is fix xorg.conf. X'll probably tell you exactly what's wrong, too. Everything in most linux distros is like this. I believe this practice coincides with the Unix Philosophy.

If Windows won't load, 90% of the time your safest choice is a clean install. It won't tell you what the problem is. Usually it won't even tell you there's a problem. It'll just die. Theres usually no way to fix it from a command prompt, and "Safe Mode" is a joke. I believe this practice coincides with the totalitarianism. (There's no problem. Use your computer as usual. Anyone who says their computer is not booting is a political dissident, and an enemy of the people!)

People who don't want to know what's going on can use Windows. People who don't want to know what's going on shouldn't actively participate in a democratic government, though. To paraphrase a political party I have the little sympathy for: "The personal [computer] is the political."

(I do of course realize that you can be very much interested in one field of interest (say, politics), while simply regarding another field from a more utilitarian perspective (say, computers). I would prefer if people took less for granted, though.)

Okay, I come off as a total loon here, so AC I go =]

The ads! They burn! (4, Insightful)

oberondarksoul (723118) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789215)

Ugh. 20-odd pages, each with only three paragraphs of text? Massive great ads in the middle of the text? Seems like just a glorified way of getting more adverts seen. I'll pass, thanks.

Re:The ads! They burn! (1)

samsonov (581161) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789316)

less of an eye burning version is below.

Early Years
ARTICLE DATE: 10.12.05
By Michael J. Miller
Microsoft today is a huge company, with thousands of employees in hundreds of buildings all around Redmond, Washington. That was hardly the case in 1983, when I first saw the product that was destined to evolve into Windows. Microsoft's headquarters were merely a small building next to the Burgermaster in Bellevue, another Seattle suburb. Then eight years old, the company had grown to about 400 people. It was primarily known as the maker of BASIC programs for many systems, and of MS-DOS, an operating system it had sold to IBM a few years earlier. Many different companies during that period made computers that ran MS-DOS, but the problem was that these computers weren't all compatible with one another. IBM's version, called PC-DOS, was one standard, but companies like Digital Equipment Corp., Texas Instruments, and HP all made systems with different graphics devices. Over the next few years, the industry would move to a world of "IBM compatibility," but many of these systems couldn't run applications designed specifically for the IBM PC. Windows' 20th Anniversary Early Years Living in a Windows World Windows Into the Future back "We Bet the Entire Company On It" That was one of the key goals behind the project that was to become Windows. Back then, it was called "Interface Manager," and when I first saw it, I was working for a magazine called Popular Computing. Interface Manager was being developed by a small team that included Rao Remala, who was Interface Manager's first programmer and worked for Microsoft for more than 20 years in various areas of the business. Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates clearly remembers how much was riding on that project. "We weren't kidding that we bet the entire company on it," Gates recalls. "The strange thing was we were a much smaller company at the time. We were competing to establish this platform with companies larger than ourselves." When Interface Manager was first announced, Microsoft described it as an option that would work on top of all the company's operating systems, including DOS and Xenix, Microsoft's version of Unix. The idea was that it would provide a single interface to control the bitmapped screen, graphics hardware, and various other I/O devices. The basic foundations of the future Windows were all there--on-screen windows, easy data transfer between programs, graphic icons, and mouse support. One of the key features was a series of menu commands at the bottom of each window, giving a common way of entering commands for all the programs. Part of the reason this was included was that by the fall of 1983, "integrated software" was the big buzzword in the industry, spurred by the success of Lotus 1-2-3. At this point, a number of new "integrated operating environments" were being developed, including Apple's Lisa, which had shipped earlier that year, and a number of systems that were designed for x86 computers--notably VisiCorp's VisiOn, Quarterdeck's DESQ (which eventually morphed into DESQview), and Digital Research's Concurrent CP/M (notable for enabling multitasking). Eyeing the Competition Of course, graphics were a large part of the discussion as well. Apple was working on its Macintosh project at this point, and Digital Research was soon to announce its Graphical Environment Manager (GEM). But everyone was taking cues from work that had been done earlier at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in California. From Our Readers: "The point-and-click world opened all sorts of new doors for me--and my career. It made me actually want to learn more about how the computer worked." --John Brown "Certainly the work done at Palo Alto Research Center, among others, influenced the bet we made to say the company would put all of its energy behind the graphical interface," Gates remembers. Gates adds that Windows wasn't merely a graphical user interface. "It was actually two things," he says. "It was multiple applications running at a time, sharing the screen and exchanging data, and it was the graphical interface." Charles Simonyi, who had worked at PARC and was a key architect of Microsoft's applications business in the early days, says that everyone at Microsoft was aware of Windows' potential. "We knew the graphical user interface would be the future," he says, adding that the company expected both Xerox and Apple to be in that arena. Jeff Raikes, now president of Microsoft's business division, joined the company in 1981 and recalls studying the competition closely. "Three or four offices down the hall from me, we had a Xerox Star so we could go and understand and play with the graphical user interface," says Raikes, who had worked at Apple and was very familiar with Lisa. Unleashing Windows 1.0 In November 1983, Microsoft announced Windows to the world, saying it would be available "late in the first quarter of 1984" and that it was designed for systems with two floppy drives, 192KB of RAM, and a mouse. This certainly wouldn't be the last time Microsoft would miss a Windows deadline or underestimate the amount of hardware needed. The actual boxed software for Windows 1.0 launched during the time of the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas in November 1985. By that point, Microsoft was recommending a minimum of 256KB of RAM, or 512KB of RAM and a hard drive for running multiple applications or when running it on top of DOS 3.0 or higher. PC Magazine's first review, in February 1986, pointed out that "Windows strains the limits of current hardware." "Of the five years of development time that it took to develop Notes, about a third of it ws spent on memory management. It was just staggering, and it wasn't the app, it was just fitting it in memory." --RAY OZZIE, a Microsoft chief of technology officer, on the early days of developing Notes for 16-bit Windows while he was at Iris Associates. That first version had a large number of utilities and accessories, most of which remain in Windows today, including the Calendar, Notepad, Terminal, Calculator, Clock, Windows Write and Windows Paint, Control Panel, and the Reversi game. The menus had moved to the top of the screen, and the windows couldn't overlap; instead, they could be stacked as tiles, so one was next to another. The first few versions of Windows were available as an "operating environment" that ran on top of DOS, or, more commonly, as a runtime environment that was included with applications. A few early programs would take advantage of this, notably the Micrografx CAD program called In-A-Vision. Still, most PC users were content to stick with DOS. Windows 2.0: Overlapping Windows Microsoft continued to improve Windows over the next few years. The most significant improvements during this period came in December 1987 with the release of Windows 2.0, when icons and overlapping windows were added, and with Windows/386, which took advantage of the abilities of Intel's 80386 processor to run multiple sessions of DOS. This established Windows as a competitor against products like DESQview, which was designed more simply to let you load multiple DOS applications in memory at once, switching among them. What continued to hold Windows back in the late 1980s was the dearth of applications available for it. Along with In-A-Vision, the most important were Aldus PageMaker, a page layout program, and Microsoft's own Excel spreadsheet. Excel was one of three applications Microsoft had already decided to develop when Charles Simonyi arrived in 1981 and became director of application development. The other two were word processing and database products. But Microsoft focused first on Excel because it had the "best cost-benefit ratio," Simonyi says. Both PageMaker and Excel had first appeared on the Apple Macintosh, but they were where Microsoft's application strategy really came together. Unlike Lotus, which was focusing on single integrated applications (Symphony on DOS and Jazz on the Macintosh), Microsoft concentrated on large individual applications like Excel and, later, PowerPoint and Word. Giving Apps "Depth" and "Breadth" Jeff Raikes says he convinced the company to work with the developers of AppleWorks (an older Apple II integrated suite) to create a low-end suite, which became Microsoft Works, to complement the individual large programs such as Excel. "I had to explain to Bill how we were going to position Works with the rest of the product line. That's when we came up with 'depth users' and 'breadth users,' that whole positioning," Raikes recalls. "It worked." "I had to explain to Bill how we were going to position Works with the rest of the product line. That's when we came up with 'depth users' and 'breadth users,' that whole positioning. It worked." --JEFF RAIKES, Microsoft employee since 1981; currently president of the company's business division. Indeed, the depth- and breadth-user concept was the overarching theme of the era for the industry. Each application fell under either low-end or high-end functionality, and integrated or standalone programs. In the low-end standalone category were products like the PFS line; low-end integrated products included AppleWorks and Microsoft Works. There were many high-end integrated packages, such as Symphony, Framework, and Enable; high-end standalone products included Microsoft Word and Excel, along with DOS competitors such as 1-2-3 and WordPerfect. Though Microsoft had been working on a word processing program for a few years, it was an obvious missing piece of Windows until 1989, when Windows 2.0 and Windows/386 were the versions on the market. That year, first Ami (then from Samna, later acquired by Lotus) and then Word for Windows shipped. As Raikes remembers it, while Excel, which shipped a few years earlier, was mostly ported from the Macintosh version, Word for Windows was a whole new architecture. Simonyi points out that the Mac OS had handled many of the functions Word would need, such as dealing with fonts properly, but they weren't tackled for Windows until Windows 3.0. Ray Ozzie, now a Microsoft chief technology officer, was starting a company at that time called Iris Associates, which would eventually produce Notes. He recalls how difficult Windows programming was in the early days. Memory management was very tough in 16-bit Windows, but Ozzie decided to stick with it, instead of trying to build a graphics environment of his own. "Because I knew Bill and Steve [Ballmer], after playing with it I talked with them about it," Ozzie says. "I was convinced that they had the will to want to get it right." Iris Associates eventually signed a development deal with Microsoft and created Notes with Windows in mind; it shipped in December 1989. But memory continued to be an issue. "Of the five years of development time that it took to develop Notes, about a third of it was spent on memory management," Ozzie recalls. "It was just staggering, and it wasn't the app, it was just fitting it in memory."--next: Windows 3.0 Windows 3.0 ARTICLE DATE: 10.12.05 By Michael J. Miller Big changes were to come with Windows 3.0, which arrived in May 1990 and addressed some of the stumbling blocks that plagued earlier versions. It introduced Program Manager and File Manager, which became two significant features of Windows for years to come. And perhaps more important, Windows 3.0 was the first version to allow programs to use memory beyond 640KB. Indeed, Windows 3 would turn out to be the version of Windows that first truly clicked. But in the meantime, Microsoft's operating-system strategy had gotten much more complicated. Microsoft and IBM had jointly announced work on OS/2 in early 1987, when IBM announced its new PS/2 machines. As part of that deal, both companies were promoting OS/2 as the long-term future for operating systems. They shipped both a character-based version (1.0) and a later version with the graphical presentation manager (1.1). IBM had announced OS/2 with both a standard edition and an "Extended Edition" that would include database functionality. Microsoft was a partner only on the standard one and was trying to sell it to many hardware companies. The Extended version was sold only by IBM and was designed specifically for IBM hardware. A Marriage in Disrepair The joint venture between IBM and Microsoft soured quickly, largely because of a disagreement over graphics. Microsoft wanted OS/2 to have the same graphics as Windows, but IBM wanted it to have a different design, known as GDDM. "We got forced," Gates recalls. "There was this awful episode in '86 when they said 'We want GDDM graphics, not Windows graphics.' And they were basically kicking us out of OS/2. So then Nathan Myhrvold and I said we'd redesign the graphics to be like GDDM, which made it very incompatible with Windows and very big and complicated, and oriented toward this so-called metafile approach that for interactive interfaces isn't what you want." From Our Readers "The worst thing about Windows and all Microsoft products is the #%$^@)*&%# 'authentication' process--totally stupid." --Greg Madsen Gates remembers that he and Steve Ballmer, then Microsoft's vice president of system software and now its CEO, flew down to IBM's headquarters in Boca Raton, Florida, weekly to try to keep the team together. Meanwhile, OS/2 was being delayed, and Microsoft was complaining that IBM's software was larger and more complex than it should have been. The key argument was over whether Microsoft should ship a version of Windows that would directly address memory greater than 1MB. Gates says Windows programs did some smart things to let applications directly use that memory, instead of the more complicated "expanded memory" managers that were used by earlier DOS-based programs, which, for the most part, were limited to 640KB of memory. Gates says IBM pressured Microsoft not to release it, because it would place Windows in direct competition with OS/2. But he adds that OS/2 was growing so big and was so far behind schedule that Microsoft decided to go ahead and release its next version of Windows, which was 3.0. (For IBM's take on the OS/2 conflict, see the Q&A with Jim Cannavino, who oversaw OS/2's development at IBM.) Microsoft had positioned Windows 3.0 as a lower-end operating system than OS/2. But in fact, while Windows 3.0 theoretically would run on a 286 with 640KB of memory and a hard drive, users really needed a 386 computer with at least 1MB of "extended memory" to take advantage of it. And when they did, they got an operating system that provided much of the graphical underpinning that people wanted, along with decent multitasking capabilities. Goodbye, Typewriters With the release of Windows 3.0, both typical computer users and large companies began to adopt Windows as an operating system. "On the client side, it was the proliferation of fairly inexpensive hardware and very cool apps that let people do things more productively," recalls Jim Allchin, who joined Microsoft in 1990 and is now copresident of its Platform Products & Services Division. "Getting rid of typewriters, getting rid of calculators, those were big deals." (See our interview with Allchin.) Personal computing was beginning to change the way people worked. "The PCs were much simpler and could be tailored faster for business operations by the IT staff than these big mainframes, where you have to wait in a big queue to tweak an application," Allchin recalls. "And I also believe Microsoft was continuing to improve the system such that it was more acceptable in the business space." Perhaps more important, Windows 3.0 attracted large numbers of developers. "It really took the 386 for Windows to have the underlying hardware platform that could deliver a useful application and developer experience," says Brad Silverberg, who was then at software company Borland but would go on to head the Windows 95 team. "Before that it was just way too difficult and, as a result, people just wrote to DOS." With Windows 3.0 came "a total flood in 1990 of Windows applications," he recalls. From Our Readers "Microsoft succeeded against bigger, more established companies with a simple business model: Produce good software for a reasonable price, court the developers and try to get the best deal possible." --Ed Hill In the next few years, Windows went through minor changes that actually signaled the inclusion of many new features. In October 1991, Windows 3.0a added a number of multimedia features, making Windows a player in a world with sound and CD-ROM drives. Windows 3.1, which followed in April 1992, focused more on stability and ease of use, and added TrueType scalable fonts, which made everything look and read better. And Windows for Workgroups 3.1 came out in October 1992, adding file sharing, printer sharing, and Microsoft Mail, the company's first big mail client. 3.1 Brings Stability Although it was just a point release, Windows 3.1 ended up as a milestone, because its improved stability made it something more businesses were willing to consider. "The Windows 3.0 code was a little rough and ragged, and crashed way more," Silverberg recalls, "which is actually quite understandable, because nobody had ever shipped a product like that. So Windows 3.1 really was trying to take Windows 3.0 and make it a lot more solid, more stable, something that corporations could feel comfortable in deploying and using on a daily basis." Many hardware manufacturers began preloading Windows 3.1 on their computers. "By having it take off so strongly within corporations, it became obvious for both IBM and Compaq, who were the principal PC manufacturers selling to enterprises, to preload Windows on their machines," Silverberg adds. Suddenly, after years of skepticism about it, Windows had stepped into the spotlight. But true ubiquity was a little further down the road, Gates says. "I'm not sure we achieved ultimate mainstream," he says, "until the shipment of Windows 95."--next: Windows 95 Windows 95 ARTICLE DATE: 10.12.05 By Michael J. Miller By the time Windows 95 came out in August 1995, the marriage between Microsoft and IBM had not only been severed completely but the two companies were engaged in an indisputable operating-system war. The companies had parted ways in late 1990. IBM continued to push OS/2 with the Presentation Manager. Microsoft, along with pushing the various versions of Windows 3, was taking the work it had done on what would have been the next version of OS/2 and turning it into what would become Windows NT. That version, called Windows NT 3.1 (the number picked to echo Windows 3.1), was introduced in late 1993. It was the first version of Windows to be a full 32-bit operating system and introduced a lot of the basics of today's Windows. Now Microsoft was talking up Chicago, the code name for the product that would become Windows 95, and IBM was countering with talk of OS/2 Warp. Though Windows NT 3.1 had had success with the server market, companies shied away from it in client situations because it required more resources than most PCs had. "We outpaced the hardware," Jim Allchin explains. In contrast, the world seemed ready for Windows 95, which required fewer resources and was more backward-compatible with Windows 3.1 and DOS applications. A 32-bit operating system really designed for client computers, Windows 95 was the first of the regular Windows series to include the operating systems; Windows versions 1 through 3.11 were designed to run on top of DOS. Windows 95 required a 386 or later processor, 4MB of RAM, and at least 40MB of free hard drive space just to start, though as usual, most people wanted more in order to take full advantage of the system. And it introduced much of the user interface features we see in Windows systems today, such as drag-and-drop icons, the famous Start menu, and many of the underlying networking and Internet features. So Many Apps, So Little Compatibility Like many Windows releases over the years, Windows 95 shipped far later than it was supposed to. The push for applications compatibility caused most of the delay, according to David Cole, then a Windows program manager and now senior vice president of Microsoft's MSN and Personal Services Group. Up until Windows 3.0, Cole says, compatibility wasn't a big deal, because there were so few applications and users anyway. But with the release of Windows 3.1, that started to change. From Our Readers "My first Windows OS was Windows 95, and my first impression was, 'Wow, it looks like they stole the Mac OS.'" --James R. Stoup It all came to a head during the holiday season of 1994. "We were thinking we were pretty close to being done with Windows 95. But then literally hundreds of these multimedia applications came out for the holiday season and didn't run, and we started testing them," Cole remembers. The multimedia features in Windows 3.0 and 3.1 weren't well documented, he said, so developers had to "hack their way in and use undocumented APIs." As a result, the improved system in Windows 95 ended up breaking a lot of applications. "We got in my little Toyota pickup that I had at the time, we drove it to Egghead, and we literally bought one of every multimedia application in the store," Cole says. "Picture a small-size Toyota pickup and the back of it is heaped with boxes of applications, games, all kinds of crazy multimedia stuff. We brought them all back, literally backed the truck up to the building, and we handed them out to all the employees and said, 'We've got to get these things tested.'" "Start Me Up" Fixing the problem took another eight months, as public anticipation continued to brew. By the time Windows 95 was formally launched in August 1995, the hype that surrounded it was unprecedented--with the first big advertising campaign for Windows (featuring the Rolling Stones singing "Start Me Up"). People stood in line to get the software when it was first available, and over a million copies were sold in the first four days. (In contrast, when Windows 3.1 was shipped, Microsoft was ecstatic that it sold 3 million copies in two months.) Why all the commotion? "It was, in many ways, a perfect storm of all these major driving elements coming together all at once," Brad Silverberg says. "You could get PCs very inexpensively with very nice graphics displays and good-sized hard drives. People were starting to get Internet connections, and so there was the whole Internet element that was really coming together. You had software that was dramatically easier to use." Yusuf Mehdi, who worked on Windows applications in the earlier years and now runs MSN, agrees that Windows 95 just happened at the right time. "Some of it, I think, we can't take credit for," he says. "We got to ride the phenomenon of the PC's becoming mainstream in the home." Catering to this much larger and more general group of users required some significant design changes when developing Windows 95, says Joe Belfiore, who worked on the interface and is now general manager of the Windows eHome Division. Files and programs had to be easier to access than they were in previous versions, for example. The changes were time-consuming but necessary, he adds. Windows 95 was also notable for a big change in applications. While most of the earlier Windows applications ran in it, it was really designed for 32-bit applications. The most successful of these would be a new version of Microsoft Office. Jeff Raikes traces Office's evolution to the emergence of chief information officers at many companies in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They wanted consistent software, so Microsoft worked on developing a consistent suite. The applications team, headed by Mike Maples, who had joined Microsoft from IBM, had to rethink the development process, focusing on the suite as a whole and not on the individual applications. As a result, the Office applications started using a lot of shared code, such as dynamic link libraries that represented a lot of the user interface. "That is still the structure we have today," Raikes says. Other developers followed suit, and soon most applications were being developed for that system, including one that would ignite both excitement and controversy. The "killer app" "One of the things that really propelled Windows 95, obviously," recalls Silverberg, "was the consumerization of the Internet, and I would have to say that the killer app for Windows 95 was [Netscape] Navigator." Netscape had launched Navigator in 1994, and the browser quickly helped turn the Internet from something of academic interest to a mass-market phenomenon. From Our Readers "Windows is very much underappreciated. It has stability, utility, and appearance matched only by Mac OS X." --Patrick Lepak Because Windows 95 was the first version to build in 32-bit networking support and the TCP/IP stack with DHCP and WINS, it made it easier for applications to connect. "One of the key objectives with Windows 95 was to be completely plug-and-play, and not just for hardware but also for software," Silverberg says. "I think we really succeeded with that with the Internet and made it possible for anybody to pick up a computer and be instantly productive." For the next few years, much of the Windows team was focused on Internet Explorer, which first shipped in Windows 95 in a very weak version. Microsoft's decision to bundle Internet Explorer with Windows, of course, would later become the heart of the U.S. government's highly publicized antitrust case against the company in the late 1990s. Inside Microsoft, there were debates about the role of the browser. The concept of the browser wasn't new from a technical perspective, but no one was sure how much it should be part of the operating system. One thing they all agreed on, though--they needed to answer Netscape Navigator, and fast. "We were facing this notion that, hey, there's a new thing going on now with the Internet, where the time to market is much faster, so how do we ship new functionality to customers, and how do we stay competitive on the Internet, when shipping every three to four years is not going to be enough for some customers?" Mehdi recalls. Several versions of Internet Explorer followed, but it wasn't until IE 3.0 that the Microsoft team felt they really had something to compete against Navigator, Mehdi says. "I think we had superior scripting, superior browser control, superior HTML standards, and I think that's where we took the lead," he observes. "Then we didn't have to pay attention to them as much, because we were pioneering the way." With IE 4 came the Trident display engine that enabled dynamic HTML. At that point, the race was on between Microsoft and Netscape to add as many features as possible in every new release. Both were investing in "push" content, in which users would subscribe to information that would be pushed to the desktop. Microsoft called this "channels," and it ultimately failed because it was too slow over dial-up connections. It was pulled from IE 5. Eventually, work on the browser slowed down. "I think we ended up having, believe it or not, feature fatigue, where people said, it's almost too much in this thing; can we just go back to some basics?" Mehdi says. "And that's why I think IE 5 was actually a way bigger hit than IE 4, because it just focused on simplicity and performance." Over the next several years, Internet Explorer would begin to take market share away from Navigator, leading to Netscape's eventual acquisition by AOL and the antitrust case against Microsoft. The court declared Microsoft a monopoly and ordered it to open Windows to different browsers and software from other manufacturers. Windows 98, ME Windows 98, which shipped in 1998, included the version of IE that many people would use for years. The listed hardware requirements had grown to include a 486 or faster, 16MB of RAM, and at least 120MB of free hard-drive space. It was followed the next year by Windows 98, Second Edition, and then by Windows Me (Millennium Edition), both relatively minor upgrades. By that time, though, most of the Windows team was focused on NT. In August 1996, Microsoft shipped Windows NT 4.0, code-named Cairo. The Cairo project was supposed to include an object-oriented file system, but it didn't make the release--and its current iteration, as WinFS, has not shipped to this day; it will not be included in the Vista release, either. Originally, NT was designed to allow for different APIs on top of it--the OS/2 Presentation Manager, Posix (a version of Unix), and of course Windows, which, with the success of Windows 95 and the Win32 API, became the focus of NT 4.0. Microsoft had tried to get corporate users to move to Windows NT, but that just didn't happen with the earlier versions, Allchin says. "Frankly, where we really made traction, just to be clear on the client, was NT 4, because it's still out there," he says.--next: XP & Vista XP & Vista ARTICLE DATE: 10.12.05 By Michael J. Miller In many respects, the current generation of Windows started with a project called NT 5, which first began to show up in 1997 and eventually shipped as Windows 2000 in February 2000. Windows 2000 took the NT basics and added a number of reliability improvements, more support for notebook computers, support for Plug and Play, and more. This became the core system for both the desktop and the server products. In October 2001, Microsoft added the user interface and software compatibility from Windows 98 on top of the basic core of Windows 2000 to create Windows XP, which remains the company's main operating system. Win XP came out in two flavors: XP Home, which was positioned as the follow-up to the Windows 98/Me series, and XP Professional, the follow-up to Windows 2000. Both used the same basic code, but the Pro version had a few more features, mainly aimed at network management and administration. The challenge with Win XP was to give users new ways to use their systems, while retaining the features they had learned to appreciate from previous versions, says Chris Jones, corporate vice president of Windows Core Operating Systems Development. "A lot of the value proposition of XP was, it's basically the same, with a new look, a new set of experiences around photos and music, and some new scenarios," Jones says. "But it had the new engine in it, and so it was just way, way more reliable." The basic details of the user interface may not have changed that much, but UI guru Joe Belfiore points out the different ways it allows people to use Web sites, cameras, and multimedia today. "If you gave somebody a PC running Win 95 today who is used to running XP and doing the stuff you do with XP," he says, "they would think it was something from the Dark Ages." Variations of Windows XP Since Win XP's release, Microsoft has taken the XP code and created a few additional variations. In the fall of 2002 it introduced Windows XP Media Center Edition, which added a "10-foot interface" for viewing--from a living-room couch as well as the usual office chair--all kinds of multimedia files. Media Center Edition also included the ability to record television. Times were changing when it came to multimedia, Belfiore says; Microsoft needed to recognize the digitization of content and the ways people wanted to take advantage of it. "The idea was that you could store your content in one room but eventually be able to get to it from other places," he says. "A lot of the value propostion of [Windows] XP was, it's basically the same...with a new look, with a new set of experiences around photos and music, with some new scenarios. But it had a new engine in it, and so it was just way, way more reliable." --CHRIS JONES, corporate vice president, Windows Core Operating Systems Development Media Center started slowly but in recent months has started to take a larger share of the retail desktop market in the U.S. Another Win XP variation, one with a much smaller audience, at least so far, is the Tablet PC Edition. "These types of really significant changes in how people consume technology take time," Belfiore says. Microsoft also released a 64-bit version of the OS, initially targeting workstations and servers. Most interesting were a variety of changes that were delivered as part of Windows Update, a new process that was introduced with Win XP. The Windows Media Player evolved to include new codecs and a new user interface. And perhaps most important, Microsoft introduced a service pack last year, called SP2, that addressed many of the security issues that had been plaguing users for the past few years. It included a built-in firewall and many fixes to known security holes. The Internet and all the threats that come with it these days led Microsoft to change its security strategy, Allchin says. "If all you could do is bring around a floppy or some other USB medium and plug it in, if that's the only time something bad could happen, you still might want to have security in the classical sense of access per control system, which is what NT had," he says. The curveball of the Internet took everyone by surprise, he adds. What Vista Will Bring Now, as Microsoft develops Windows Vista, which is scheduled to ship in the second half of 2006, security is a top priority. The company talks about the big push to make Vista more "confident," "clear," and "connected." Helping people visualize and organize their information better is another goal, which is why the user interface is changing yet again. Certain functions, such as commands, may change too, Chris Jones says, which would force users to learn to type differently. Microsoft's challenge is to change just enough to make the interface more intuitive, without changing so much that users begin to feel lost, he says. Another highlight of Vista will be its new integrated search. Learning to adapt to the new search function won't be too much of a stretch, Jones believes, because of the full-text search tools people use in Microsoft Outlook, for example, or Google. In Vista, search is built into the OS, and every file is automatically indexed. Applications will be able to open files through a search menu, changing the way you think about where and how you store your files. Bill Gates says Vista users will also notice the most significant change to the menu structure of applications since Microsoft introduced its early Mac and Windows applications in the 1980s. "It is interesting that now, 20 years later, is the first time we're really taking that single-level menu structure approach and saying that for the productivity applications, that has run its course," Gates says. "The Office 12 user interface--it's super-interesting what they've done; it's amazing, but there will be people who resist the change. But that menu approach ran out of steam probably four or five years ago." Behind the surface, Vista will have many new features, including a new graphics engine with new commands for programmers, a new programming model, new drivers, and security features that will make it easier for users to run without having administrator privileges on all the time. A number of things Microsoft has talked about over the years won't be in Vista, though, including the Next Generation Secure Computing Base, a plan for running secure tasks separately from normal tasks; and WinFS, an object-oriented file system Allchin has been pushing for years. Though WinFS is currently being beta tested, it isn't expected to be included in the initial release of Vista. New Strategies As for future operating systems, Microsoft hopes to speed up the time between releases. During the 5-year-period between Microsoft's releases of XP and Vista, Apple has released several end-user upgrades and charged for them, Jones says. The question for Microsoft, he says, is "Where do we charge and where don't we for all these things?" Security updates, for example, should be included as part of the OS licenses people pay for, Jones says, and there are other things added to Windows for free because it's good for developers to have those features deployed. But Microsoft still needs to work out which extras to charge for, he says. Microsoft is also always exploring ways to make new versions of the operating system interesting and significant enough for people to want to upgrade to them. "First, we'd better offer a set of compelling capabilities in the software," Allchin says. "Second, we'd better work on the migration and deployment problems that people have today. If I look in the future, we have to do an even better job." Keys to Windows' Past Successes Looking back, Gates says the two most important things that led to Windows' success were creating a standard for application developers to write to and creating a standard, intuitive interface for users. "We've got the developer model that connects to the past but also provides these new services for new classes of applications," Gates says. "We write applications ourselves and exploit that with Office, but it's really the breadth [of applications] that has made Windows such a strong standard. And that you can walk up to any machine and know how to use it, that's the user-model piece." Both now have to evolve, he adds. "We need a model that is not as single device-centric as Windows originally was but that brings all these richer services, both local and remote, into that developer picture and into that user model," Gates says. He notes that, in general, the basic UI hasn't changed all that much. "I could take you back to the Windows 2.0 UI and you'd find there wasn't the bar at the bottom and some things, but Windows users today would find it pretty familiar." Now, Gates says, it's time to "take the user interface to a new level." Such changes, he says, are always risky, just as moving from DOS to Windows was. But the goal remains to create a common developer model and a common user model. "Those same benefits are as relevant today as they were when this got started."--next: Bill Gates on Windows Bill Gates on Windows Past, Present, and Future ARTICLE DATE: 10.12.05 By Michael J. Miller Online Extra It may be hard to believe now, but when Windows first launched it was an underdog in the industry. Twenty years later it is the default OS on nearly every PC shipped nationwide. Earlier this month Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates spoke with PC Magazine Editor-in-Chief Michael Miller to discuss what made Windows such a big success and what innovations to expect in future releases. MM: What would you say was the most important decision you made that made Windows so successful? "The funny thing about controversy in the computer industry is there's a period when things are controversial, and then a period when they are obvious." BG: It is not as easy to recognize today that PCs didn't [always] have the power to do a graphical interface, so writing very clever code, and being will to wait a bit while the hardware grew into it was a big part of it. Also developing these graphical applications was very different. People like PARC and Xerox never thought about getting a broad set of developers to write these modeless-type applications. So having the right toolset and the right evangelism behind Windows was very key. Basically with Windows, we had the first decade, which was driving it to mainstream acceptance, and then a second decade, where it had become mainstream, so there was a lot of evolution and improvement but not this question of whether it was the right approach. MM: When you first showed [Windows] to me as Interface Manager 22 years ago, did you believe it would become as ubiquitous as it did? BG: We weren't kidding that we bet the entire company on it. The strange thing was we were a much smaller company at the time. We were competing to establish this platform with companies larger than ourselves. One famous episode was that after we'd seen [Lotus] 1-2-3 for the first time there was a question of whether to chase 1-2-3 and try to make a better product in character mode, which internally was code-named Odyssey, or, because it was so good, should we risk of putting our energy into a graphical spreadsheet. That was hotly debated from both sides, and I chose to bet on the graphical interface. This, of course, became Excel. MM: You came out with a lot more DOS programs at that point. Word shipped for DOS, but it didn't ship for Windows until seven years later. BG: But we were working on it, believe me. MM: In those early days, from 1983 to 1990, there weren't that many users of Windows. BG: That's for sure. It was a tough sell, boy! MM: Then in 1990, Word came out, Windows 3.0 came out. Was that a vindication of the strategy? At that point do you say "Yes, this really works"? BG: The funny thing about controversy in the computer industry is there's a period when things are controversial, and then a period when they are obvious. You never get your moment where people say "Oh you were right." It went from "Windows is a joke, who needs it, it's slow" to "Well, of course we're using Windows, are you kidding me, let's move on to the next topic." I'm not sure we achieved ultimate mainstream until the shipment of Windows 95.--Continue Reading An Odd Competition With OS/2 MM: Let's talk about OS/2. Clearly that was controversial. In 1986 you do your deal with IBM, and you announce it in 1987, along with the PS/2. BG: This was super controversial, because IBM was a partner originally on OS/2, so their view was they wanted OS2 for everything or as much as possible, whereas we were establishing Windows on our own. We were very concerned about being in a joint venture with what I called the "high cost producer" - that is the company whose code was the largest and that used the most developers to get something done. It sounds really rude, and all that, but in terms of the team they had on OS/2 at the time, it was an awkward partnership because of the difference in the software development teams. "There's a period where we don't know if we're in partnership with IBM because they won't talk to us." By then [IBM's] share of hardware market had dropped, and so they were trying to use the software to move their hardware share up. So they had this thing called OS/2 Extended Edition that they were only qualifying on IBM hardware. And they kept making statements about how OS/2 Extended Edition worked best with this thing called Micro Channel Architecture. Of course there was no reality to that, but then of course they could have always put hooks in like they had been allowed to do in mainframe microcode that would have made it only work that way. So NCR came along and licensed Micro Channel, and there were charging higher patent fees for Micro Channel so they could get profits that way. They didn't want us to have Extended Edition. They were willing to have us work with them on Standard Edition, but then they went to all the ISVs and said we want you to require Extended Edition for your applications, which none of the other OEMs would have. And the other OEMs were coming to us and saying "What about this Extended Edition? What are we supposed to do about that, because it's not qualified to run on our hardware. Are you going to get that from IBM or create a clone? What is your view of this Extended Edition?" Meanwhile OS/2 is big - it is really big. For the graphics piece, which we had originally proposed to IBM just be the exact piece from Windows, they had this mainframe thing called GDDM [Graphical Data Display Manager] that [the IBM] Hursley lab really liked. MM: So you're still pushing Windows. BG: The key issue was whether we would ship the version of Windows that does direct addressing of greater than 1 MB. Internally, we had Windows running directly against large memory. IBM used a lot of pressure on us to tell us not to release that. But OS/2 was getting so big, and schedules were pushed out and it was getting so mainframe-like that we did go ahead and release Windows. MM: And that was Windows 3? BG: Windows 3.0, exactly, which does this memory addressing in this natural way, and it's catching on. Even the demanding ISVs were saying Windows gives them lots of headroom. Then people are getting confused by what they hear from IBM. There's a period where we don't know if we're in partnership with IBM because they won't talk to us. They won't talk to us, then we have a reconciliation, and then they won't talk to us again. Finally, they broke off relationships with us, and then you had a very clear OS/2 vs. Windows competition, where [former IBM General Manager] Lee Reiswig is crashing Windows in IBM demonstrations. It's all very ironic, because it's most of the OS/2 code is still our code and we're still selling LAN Manager. Whenever we'd go out and criticize OS/2, that group would say "we just took more friendly fire." MM: By Windows 95, you'd won that battle. BG: It was clear to us. I don't know when IBM gave up. I remember flying over to Australia long after that, where [IBM was] still trying to get design wins, but basically yes, after that's, its over.--Continue Reading Looking Beyond Vista MM: Obviously now you're working on Vista. But what is your vision for the future? What would you like to see over the next 10 years, the next 20 years? BG: In the future, things are going to be far more user-centric where a user will have a computer at work, a computer at home, a phone, and other devices. So instead of starting with your state being on that computer, you really want your state - your documents, your contacts, your schedule -- all to be available to you on every device. And if you personalize something and say you like this, it shows up on all those other devices. So, we need a lot more richness in Windows itself, in particular in areas like speech recognition, ink recognition, visual recognition, and much more structured data on the machine that leads to automatic replication of the parts. It should include going up into the cloud where you can get [your information] even in a device you borrow, so you don't have to worry about it to back up, because it goes out into the cloud. "The differences between a set-top box, a videogame, and a PC--those boundaries won't be the same as they've been." And PCs will get more specialized. We'll have ones that get down to be as small as a phone, and ones that control big wall-sized displays. Obviously, with Media Center we're now controlling the big screen in the living room and connecting you up at 10 feet away, so we're able to have communications between the 10 foot and 2 foot experience. We're also doing more to unify the model between dedicated video gaming APIs, like the Xbox API, and the Windows graphics API. We also want to take all the rich services around what has been Xbox Live, and bring those to the PC as well. The differences between a set-top box, a videogame, and a PC--those boundaries won't be the same as they've been. MM: Now you're talking about things that are more like gaming machines like Xbox, things that are more browser centric. A lot of people say the browser becomes the operating system or the Internet becomes the operating system. How much of it is desktop centric or notebook centric and how much of it something else? BG: There are two models that are important. There is the developer model where you, as a developer, understand what your storage services are and what your security services are. And then there's a user model: as you move between your devices, how do find things that you care about? How do you find new applications, get those on the machine, and use them? So the Windows developer model and the Windows user model are as important as ever. Some of the services will be delivered locally from the disk that is in the portable machine you've got on the airplane, others will come off of a disk on server connected through the Internet. Storage will not be in one place. We have to make it available everywhere so the user doesn't have to think about backing it up, or versioning it, or replicating it, but it's there for them at high bandwidth; it's there for them offline. Likewise, [when using] the richer new applications where you have speech and ink, you want [processing] power right next to you because of latency. Fortunately, the power of microprocessor keeps going up and they keep getting cheaper. There was this whole movement called 'network computers' about 10 years ago. There's a reason why none of those [solutions] delivered the kind of empowerment and flexibility that the PC did. In the meantime we've been hard at work on addressing the criticisms of the PC that gave rise to those discussions about state management, easy policy handling, and easy updating. The difference between having a Windows terminal server connected up or just having a full blown PC [is getting smaller.] They should both be extremely manageable where somebody is just setting policies and the state is replicated, so even if a device breaks you can immediately get at [your information.] So we need a model that is not as single device-centric as Windows originally was, but brings all of these richer services, both local and remote, into that developer picture and into that user model.

Good for them..... (1)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789218)

I'm sure it's going to be one heck of a kegger at the Balmer house.

Re:Good for them..... (5, Funny)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789257)

There is a problem when you get barrels near Balmer , He starts throwing them at short Italians wearing plumber outfits

Anniversary... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13789222)

...sounds like there is something to be celebrated. I see no such thing.

Perhaps a rephrasement is in order: "20th year of rule of Windows" [wikipedia.org] or "20th installment of Windows".

Why don't they ask... (1, Interesting)

Mistshadow2k4 (748958) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789227)

... how well Gates likes his Mac? Becuase it's widely known he uses a Mac and almost never uses Windows himself. This also applies to Ballmer and all other top-level executives working for MS. If there's an page where the interviewer asked him about that, I'd love to have a link to it. It seems most never dare. So you see, I'm not really all that excited about an interview with Gates; most of the interviewers seem too well-trained to ask anything interesting.

Re:Why don't they ask... (4, Interesting)

Finuvir (596566) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789350)

A lot of things are "widely known". That doesn't make them all true, it just means that very often people believe what they want to be true rather than what can be shown to be true. Any useful citations about Gates using a Mac? Or are you just blindly regurgitating what you heard and wanted to believe?

Re:Why don't they ask... (1)

Nailer (69468) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789352)

I have never heard this before. Got a URL where someone who's seen Bill Gates' office can confirm this? I'm doubtful, but surprise me.

Mistake in stub. (4, Funny)

Walterk (124748) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789232)

Take a look at Window's past and present, and what lies are in the future
I believe this to be more accurate

Another product overview MS created themselves (2, Interesting)

't is DjiM (801555) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789240)

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/WinHistoryIntro.m spx [microsoft.com]

I wonder how many of you did use those first versions of Windows. From 3.1 on, it was quite common but before 3.1...

Re:Another product overview MS created themselves (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789275)

I used Windows 3.0 regularly on my first PC (an Amstrad PC1640 - an 8MHz 8086 CPU, 40MB of hard disk and 640KB of RAM. I briefly played with Windows 1.0 when I acquired a copy on an apricot machine, and laughed at the lack of overlapping windows, and the lack of any software other than the dosbox.

Windows 3.0 was a fairly good environment for its day, although I found it somewhat slower than GEM, and some things (e.g. putting all of your icons in the same program manager group) could completely kill it. Thinks like protected memory simply weren't possible on an 8086, and pre-emptive multitasking would have been a huge overhead.

Re:Another product overview MS created themselves (1)

alan.briolat (903558) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789334)

I had Windows 2.01 on an old Amstrad 486, before one day it decided to delete itself. Not entirely sure why - I'm sure M$ would say its a "feature" or soemthing.

Re:Another product overview MS created themselves (1)

blane.bramble (133160) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789347)

I still have copies of either 1.01 or 1.03 somewhere (5 1/4" disks, naturally).

Relieved (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13789244)

After using GNU/Linux for three years, it was kind of a relieve to return back to Windows. I still use tools like emacs, gimp, gcc, latex, etc. But Windows is very stable now, and it supports all the hardware you can throw at it. Now I don't have to sit for days at end trying to get my TV tuner, printer, etc. to work.

Re:Relieved (1, Flamebait)

dorkygeek (898295) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789345)

After using GNU/Linux for three years, it was kind of a relieve to return back to Windows.

Yes, it's a true relieve to finally have access to all this spyware again!

Re:Relieved (5, Insightful)

Vegard (11855) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789378)

Hardware-support is a no-brainer. It's really simple: *do your research before you buy*, and it will be equally well supported in Linux.

Do not reward the monipoly. Reward standard-friendly hardware vendors who help the community, not hardware-vendors who help the monopoly.

I haven't got any hardware-problems with Linux. I simply don't buy non-compatible hardware.

As for software/features, it is getting better by the day in Linux, and I am more productive on a *nix-platform than a Windows-platform.

No, I will not surrender my independence, and I encourage all who are remotely interested in competition and freedom in the software-market to do as me.

In addition, my advocacy-strategy is one that I recommend to everyone:

1) When you go to a hardware-store, ask the clerk for Linux-compatibility! Let him know that there *is* a demand. Do it regardless if you know the answer or not (unless it's written on the box).

2) In case they don't know, and you don't know, ask for their return-policy. Don't buy if you can't return it!

3) Never buy Windows-only-hardware, even if the machine which is going to use it is currently a Windows-machine. Things may change, and some time in the feature, the hardware will be used in a Linux-machine. And even if not, the monopoly does not deserve rewarding!

Last, but not least, do not support the Windows-monopoly by being the virus/spyware-janitor for all your Windows-friends. It's quite relieving not having to bother *at all* with the Windows-viruses/spyware. Let them fix their own mess if they choose to take the lazy way and go with the monopoly. Don't be the one who makes it easy for them to use Windows!

And when they're ready, get them hooked on Linux ;) Offer them transition-help, it will reduce your burden with Windows-questions long-term.

and no - I'm not really a fundamentalist. I believe everyone *should* have the right to choose. But the monopoly limits *my* right to choose, so I fight the monopoly. When competition is restored, mission is accomplished, not when MS is broke. If MS goes broke if they don't have a desktop-monopoly, however, I will not really feel sorry for them. I believe competition to be more important.

To Windows! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13789248)

The cause of, and solution to, all of lifes problems!

huh? (1)

zippo01 (688802) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789249)

"it was considered nothing more than a slow operating environment that had arrived late to the party, well behind the industry leaders" what's changed?

Windows 95, you mean... (2)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789250)

I was using windows/386 well before 1995. (Though I am a bit embarrased to say it)

Re:Windows 95, you mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13789311)

2005 - 20 != 1995

Re:Windows 95, you mean... (1)

aug24 (38229) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789341)

20th you prat.

And which dick modded the parent a troll? Bad at maths, sure, but not trolling.

J.

Re:Windows 95, you mean... (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789379)

I still have Windows 386 in the box in mint condition. I'm thinking of selling it on eBay for my kids' college funds in a decade or so.

There biggest coup (3, Insightful)

gnalre (323830) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789251)

I always thought MS biggest coup was not producing a graphical interface(others were doing far better ones at the time) but convincing companies like lotus to port there applications to it.

I bet the discussion did not go like "if you port lotus 1-2-3 to our new graphical interface and help make it popular, in a few years time we will use our position to write a competing app and wipe you off the mat."

I bet the head of lotus wished he had negotiated a non-compete clause.

Re:There biggest coup (4, Informative)

Frankie70 (803801) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789274)


I bet the discussion did not go like "if you port lotus 1-2-3 to our new graphical interface and help make it popular, in a few years time we will use our position to write a competing app and wipe you off the mat."

I bet the head of lotus wished he had negotiated a non-compete clause.


You are wrong there. Lotus was very slow in getting 1-2-3 to Windows. They concentrated on
OS/2. This gave Microsoft the chance to gain a lead in the Windows spreadsheet market
with Excel.

Re:There biggest coup (2)

birder (61402) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789340)

Same with WordPerfect. Many of the old school software firms were too slow, or didn't care until it was too late to port their products to Windows. By the time WordPerfect got a stable usable version working Word had taken its marketshare. Shame too, I loved still having reveal codes in the Windows version of WP.

FWIW (4, Insightful)

spycker (812466) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789252)

IMO Microsoft made computing cheap (as in $) well before Linux was a twinkle in Linus' eye. And MS still makes computing cheap relative to all other commercial offerings.

SUN and Apple had the world by the tail in those days (mid 80's), but they never worked to commoditize themselves (despite what they tell you its a good thing). Rather SUN, with its hubris laden leadership thought they were so great that only universities and large conglomerates were entitled use their software and hardware; a fact reflected in their price list. And look were its gotten them... McNeally - "I could've been a contender!"

An argument could even be made that Microsoft with its relatively low priced OS is what made the business model that created Linux. The only way to compete with cheap (as in $) is free (as in beer).

Hopefully in twenty years (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789256)

Another operating system will have supplanted it.

Perhaps something open like Linux, but not necessarily Linux. I think Plan 9 has some potential:
http://www.cs.bell-labs.com/plan9dist/ [bell-labs.com]

I like Plan 9's idea of having one protocol, P9, for communicating in the network. Very simple.

Or better yet, most of us won't have to worry about operating systems at all (for the desktop), because many things become more standarized, drivers contain metadata detailing the device's operation rather needing to deal with every operating system's quirks and specific interface, and applications work seamlessly across platforms - perhaps by having a minimal universal API, perhaps by taking the JAVA idea on step further and making the OS the VM.

Please remember, my ideas are more to reach a goal than for being realistic or pragmatic, I'm not an expert in all these areas....

Not Redundant! (0, Redundant)

Mini-Geek (915324) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789260)

When Windows first shipped, 20 years ago this month, it was considered nothing more than a slow operating environment that had arrived late to the party, well behind the industry leaders, Apple and Xerox PARC.

now, it's considered nothing more than a slow operating system that has a monopoly on the market...

p.s. I'm not redundant because the others say it's the same and I say it's still slow but has a monopoly...so don't mark me as redundant...please

Terrible Summary (1)

BarryNorton (778694) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789261)

"[Windows] was considered nothing more than a slow operating environment that had arrived [...] well behind the industry leaders, Apple and Xerox PARC"
No, it was considered a slow environment that was no more usable than the other graphical challengers to the actual industry leaders, with their (non-graphical) DOSes. Has the writer of this article summary celebrated his own 20th birthday yet?

Re:Terrible Summary (1)

birder (61402) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789367)

Well, he's not that inaccurate. We used several Mac and Xerox computers in the 80s while 95% of the other computers still used DOS. In the Americas, Apple and Xerox were the gui leaders for business PC's. It wasn't until around 91-93 that Windows began invading our company, mostly from new PC purchases and when Windows 95 was released, it went full blown.

What a waste (5, Insightful)

wazzzup (172351) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789263)

With 20 years and 95% market share they had the time, money and resources to create the most advanced operating system ever. Instead, all they ever produced was "good enough" - never on the leading edge, never innovative.

What good have they done? They made the PC a commodity, accessible to all but the most poor. Gone are the days of $7000 proprietary machines that didn't operate with other different computers. These are all good things but they came as a result of market share and fate rather than purposeful design and innovation.

I look back at the last 20 years of Windows and say - what a waste. What a colossal monument to greed and complacency.

Re:What a waste (3, Insightful)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789294)

They made the PC a commodity, accessible to all but the most poor.

This is the second time I've seen this claim this week. As far as I know, it's utter nonsense. How did Microsoft make the PC a commodity? Surely the single crucial factor was the IBM clones being given the legal go-ahead through the IBM vs Phoenix lawsuit, which Microsoft had nothing to do with. How on earth did Microsoft make the PC a commodity?

Re:What a waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13789308)

Such is capitalism.
You don't like it? Do something about it then--but shut up, either way.
Look how far unix has come in 20 years.
I'm so sick of all the bitching and moaning.
I'm going to go read about ePaper.

Re:What a waste (4, Interesting)

Masa (74401) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789336)

I think that people expect too much of Microsoft. The sad truth is that Microsoft - as a corporation - is not interested in advancing computer science, innovation or helping to create better tomorrow. They are in the business to make money. That's their only motive to be the biggest player in the business. I'm sure that investors are very happy, how Microsoft has been able to grow in the past 20 years.

Well, at least in my books Microsoft is just another greedy company. Nothing more. I don't expect them to do same things than universities and other research organisations who have passion to this segment of industry.

That's pretty rich (1)

FishandChips (695645) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789273)

So Windows is twenty. Really, it's ten. It was the release of Windows 95 that brought the dismal tide over the levees and submerged us all. By coincidence or not, Apple just announced its best shipments since the days of the crazy Dr Gil Amelio, not far off the same time. Maybe that tells us something about the future, too.

What lies in the future, apparently, is keeping your data in the "cloud" - on giant servers somewhere - and being able to plug into it via a usb fob or similar device which carries your identity and the system settings just the way you like them. Fine, I'm up for that, though if I had really important data I doubt I'd entrust it to the tender care of megacorp inc.

It's rather unfortunate that the Microsofties use "rich" the whole time to describe things. It's pretty rich being told you have to impoverish yourself in order to enjoy a rich user experience that's usually on a par with a nasty hamburger.

Likely by the time Vista comes out folks will be so sick and tired of hearing about it that they'll be desperate for any other news. As for the "interview" with Mr Gates. Hmmn, stilted. Are these things ever done live, or is the interview cut and pasted from questions emailed over and droided answers emailed back? It is, after all, the Borg we're dealing with here.

Interview (1)

dorkygeek (898295) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789282)

including an interview with Mr. Bill Gates himself.

Is reading an interview with him considered an honor today, or what?? Not that there would already be plenty of other interviews where he can spread FUD.

Where is windows going (2, Informative)

MECC (8478) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789290)

Just look at what Apple is doing now. No guesswork there.

Vista Release (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13789293)

"It took twenty years, but we got the security right this time...honest"

It changed everything.. (2, Interesting)

Burann (916084) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789296)

Unlike most here on slashdot I'm quite happy with Windows, I think it works great, provides a myriad of features and is fast and stable. So heres to another 20 years of Windows

What lies ahead? More lies! (2, Insightful)

AnonymousYellowBelly (913452) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789307)

More lies about:
1. security;
2. efficiency;
3. non-draconian DRM;
4. interoperability;
5. openness;
6. standards compliance;
7. release dates;

I hope in 5 or 6 years time the Windows anniversary will be about "the year MS lost its monopoly".

Leaders? (3, Interesting)

MasterOfGoingFaster (922862) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789320)

"...well behind the industry leaders, Apple and Xerox PARC." PARC was certainly a leader in research, but not an industry leader. You couldn't buy their stuff at the time. And the Mac was a slow seller with almost no software. DOS was king, and IBM was still on top. I have a 20 year old issue of Byte that reviews all the window managers (GEM, TopView, Desqview, etc) that were shipping, and it mentions the soon-to-arrive Microsoft Windows. My Windows 1.0 SDK has a "hello world" example with several pages of C code. I remember thinking "this will never work"...

Another 20th anniversary (2)

Dan East (318230) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789323)

Interesting, because this month is also the 20th anniversary for another OS and mouse-driven GUI - Amiga OS 1.0. The Commodore Amiga 1000 first shipped in October, 1985. It's truly a shame it did not become more mainstream, because the Amiga's GUI completely blew Windows away.

It took Microsoft at least another decade to offer a gui as smooth and responsive as the Amiga's, with the release of Windows 95. Yep, 10 years before they had a mouse pointer that properly followed the physical mouse like the Amiga's, instead of the herky-jerky mouse movement Window's users had to put up with.

Dan East

Art of Lying (-1, Troll)

reclusivemonkey (703154) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789330)

Now, it's the operating system used on nearly 95 percent of all the desktops and notebooks sold worldwide
Are we still going with this whole "pull a statistic outta my *ss" thing then? 100% of the people who ask me for support are switched to Linux within months.

Re:Art of Lying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13789369)

bullshit

where would be linux? (1)

pgarcia (678754) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789333)

where would be linux and the open source movement if microsoft/windows hasn't ever existed?
Would it be linux at all?. I think linux mainly exist and evolves because of its continuous competition against windows.

Industry leaders (3, Funny)

dogStarSirius (921993) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789342)

"...was considered nothing more than a slow operating environment that had arrived late to the party, well behind the industry leaders" - how times change?

foo (1, Funny)

dajobi (915753) | more than 8 years ago | (#13789359)

When Windows first shipped, 20 years ago this month, it was considered nothing more than a slow operating environment that had arrived late to the party, well behind the industry leaders, Apple and Xerox PARC. Today, not much has changed.
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