Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Quick History of Microsoft Windows

By Philip Leimbach, MCT

For those who are not Information Technology people and who do not know the basic history of Microsoft Windows here is a simple breakdown of the different versions of Microsoft Windows over the years.

The 1980’s brought us Windows 1.0 through 2.1x, while Windows at this time was still a huge experiment a few new ideas had made their way to the public eye. Multiple Windows allowing for cooperative multitasking was one of these ideas. But, since Windows was barely a dream the Apple II (MAC System Software 1.0-3.0) ruled the roost.

The 1990’s quickly changed the Desktop Operating System game with the introduction of Windows 3.x systems. Like many long time Windows users, Windows 3.11 was my first real foray into the Windows systems and began a long term work relationship. In 1995 Microsoft began what would become the biggest breakthrough in Desktop Operating Systems when it introduced Windows 95 to the general public. Windows 95 was the first real effort at Plug And Play devices (PNP) with the idea you could take any printer or other device and simply plug them into a computer and “poof” it would magically work. While it was a great idea, it still doesn’t always work like that.

Home computing continued on through the year 2000 with the introduction of Windows 98 which had some improvements over Windows 95 and of course the dreaded Windows ME.

Enterprise computing is where Microsoft would make their biggest splash with the 4th edition of Windows NT called Windows NT 4.0. Windows NT 4.0 quickly gained favor over a then flag bearer of Novell Netware who at the introduction of Microsoft NT server had a 90% market share. Microsoft was able to quickly outpace Novell not only because of an outstanding marketing campaign but also because Microsoft used TCP/IP networking protocol which enabled Microsoft to easily connect to the internet. In 2000 Microsoft introduced Windows 2000 which was an upgrade of the Windows NT 4.0 system and had a much cleaner feel to the user interface as well as other enhancements.

Now where it gets confusing for most people is with the introduction of Windows XP in 2001. Windows XP introduced different flavors such as XP Home and XP Professional. One obviously made for general consumer while the other was made for an enterprise environment. Since Windows XP has been the vanguard of the Microsoft Desktop Operating Systems for ten years now it was not without its issues when first released and by many accounts was not considered a stable platform until after its update called Service Pack 2. Once Windows XP became a “stable” platform it became the Operating System of preference to most standard computer users and is still one of the more popular operating systems.

In 2006 Windows Vista was released and quickly shocked the IT world. After our first install of Windows Vista many IT professionals quickly had flashbacks to Windows ME, it was a huge resource hog that liked to crash just because it could. Many of us who had tested the first Beta version of Windows Vista were quite shocked at how unstable Vista turned out. In fact many IT Professionals, especially Small Business consultants recommended companies not move up to Windows Vista unless they were buying a new computer.

2009 brought us Windows 7, what many believe Windows Vista should have been from the beginning. Windows 7 is much more resource friendly and so far appears to be much more stable. It has many enhancements built to the operating system to make it much prettier than Windows XP but more user friendly than Windows Vista. Windows 7 is much nicer to laptops especially netbooks and has been ported over to cell phones in an attempt to match Apples iPhone and Google’s Android Phone System. With Windows 7, pretty much just drop in a couple of gigabytes of RAM (Random Access Memory) on an average video card and your good, Vista just was not that kind.

What I forgot about the servers, no, not really. After Windows 2000 the servers and the desktops had a parting of the ways. Servers are now called by the year they are supposed to have been released. As of today while a majority of Servers are still Windows Server 2003, the most current flavor is Windows Server 2008 R2. Oh and trust me there are still plenty of Server 2000 systems in the enterprise. But does any of this matter to a non IT guy, no really does it?

The future holds some interesting avenues. I have seen snippets of Windows 8 and to me it really looks like Windows Phone 7 in many ways, many are speculating with the extreme and sudden popularity of Tablets that Windows 8 is being geared toward Tablet and Cloud Computing. Of course there is the “Cloud” where very little of your data resides locally. With you having such a small local footprint the devices you are using can be smaller as long as they can get to the internet in order to access the cloud. With AT&T having bought T-Mobile to have immediate access to a much faster network (read 4G network) and all wireless delivery companies building cellular devices into Tablets, the cloud is right around the corner. Don’t worry we are sure Microsoft has a solution for better Tablet Computing (I’m guessing Windows 8 will be their start), heck what do you think Windows Office 365(live) is doing? With all the changes that have happened over the last 30 years all I can tell you for sure is to either love change or hang up the keyboard, because I’m sure in 30 more years the 32 gigabyte thumb/flash drive will have gone the way of that super-fast 1.4 megabyte, super small 3.5 inch floppy disk.

Better computing to all


joe said...
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joe said...
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