Microsoft Windows – A Brief History

Note: This article was originally published on DPS Computing in 2009.  Part of the new DPS Archives feature.  Will be updated with new pictures in due course.



The Windows operating system by Microsoft is the worlds most used and known operating system.  Originating in the 80s it has grown and evolved to become what it is today in its latest version, Windows Vista.

Below we have information on all the Windows operating systems, general introductions to the systems and also more in depth guides to show you how to complete certain actions.

The list below lists all the versions of Windows, in chronological order.  We find that the most popular selections at the moment are Windows Vista andWindows XP.

Windows 1.0

Windows 1.0 was the first in what was to become a line of popular Windows operating systems.  Windows 1.0 was first made available to the general public on November 20th 1985 and was a 16-bit operating system.Windows 1.0 Logo


Windows 2.0

Windows 2.0, the successor to Windows 1.0, was first released on December 9th 1987.Windows 2.0 Logo


Windows 3.0

Windows 3.0 was first released on May 22nd 1990.
Windows 3.0 Logo


Windows 3.1

Windows 3.1 was first released on April 6th 1992.
Windows 3.1 Logo


Windows For Workgroups 3.1

Windows For Workgroups 3.1 was a variation of the popular Windows 3.1 operating system.  The difference was that while Windows 3.1 was mainly targeted at personal usage Windows For Workgroups 3.1 was to target the business customers that Microsoft had started attracting.  Due to this fact there is only months between the release of Windows For Workgroups 3.1 and the original Windows 3.1 operating system.  Windows For Workgroups 3.1 was first released to the general public on October 27th 1992.Windows 3.1 Logo


Windows For Workgroups 3.11

Windows For Workgroups 3.11 was the successor to the previous Windows For Workgroups 3.1 operating system that Microsoft was aiming at businesses.  The difference between this successor and all the other previous successors to the operating system was the fact that rather than there being major changes between the two versions or entire rewrites, there we’re smaller, yet in many ways just as important, changes made instead.  Windows For Workgroups 3.11, if you like, is an “extension” of the original rather than a completely new operating system and somewhere in between the service packs we see nowadays and a complete rewrite.  Windows for Workgroups 3.11 was first released on November 8th 1993.This was to be the last in the line of 16-bit operating systems that Microsoft would release.
Windows For Workgroups 3.11 Logo


Windows NT

Windows NT was first released on July 27th 1993 and was to be the first in the line of the Windows business spin off operating systems.  Later on, in the Windows XP era we would see the best parts of NT and the 9x operating systems combined with “Personal” and “Professional” versions.  Windows NT was also Microsofts first attempt at a 32-bit operating system, compared to the previous 16-bit operating systems they had released and allowed for the PC to be used much more usefully, do more tasks and perform better.
Windows NT Logo


Windows 95

Windows 95 was first released on August 24th 1995 and was the first real great success story that Microsoft had on the market of Personal Computers for individuals, families and homes.  Although still quite expensive, the price of computers had dropped dramatically since the days of the early Windows versions and computers we’re now being found in homes up and down the country.  Due to this, and Windows already being the de-facto standard operating system, Microsoft enjoyed much increased success with this operating system.Windows 95 Logo


Windows NT 4.0

Windows NT 4.0 was the 2nd in line of the business spin off of the Windows operating system released exactly a year on from the highly successful Windows 95 operating system, which was aimed at personal users, on August 24th 1996.Windows NT 4.0 was shipped with another product which was to be just as dominant for years to come as Windows had become from way back in 1985.  The name of this product was “Microsoft Internet Explorer” and was Microsofts first attempt at a web browser.  Although still in its infancy, having only been created in 1991, the Internet was becoming more and more dominant and its potential was known to be great.  The Internet, although originally designed for military use, was starting to get used by civilians, at this time mainly businesses for effective communications.  The Internet allowed companies to easily keep in contact as well as display company information and a “shop front” to anyone who knew there web address directly to there own computer.

Microsoft Internet Explorer was a success and was included in the later ranges of the popular personal line of 9x operating systems.

Windows NT 4.0 Logo


Windows 98

Windows 98 was first released on June 25 1998, a few years after the release of Windows 95.
Windows 98 Logo


Windows 98 SE

Windows 98 SE (Second Edition) was first released on May 9th 1999.  Windows 98 SE was basically an upgraded version of Windows 98 with all the bug fixes included and some added extras also put in.  Many compare the “Second Edition” versions of the operating system to what is currently known as service packs (i.e. Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Windows Vista Service Pack 1).  Although the core system was the same improvements were made on both usability, reliability and stability.Windows 98 Logo


Windows 2000

Windows 2000 was one of two Windows operating systems to be released around the millennium.  Windows 2000 was first made available on February 17th 2000.  Windows 2000 is considered the successor to the NT line of operating systems.
Windows 2000 Logo


Windows ME

Windows ME (Millennium Edition) was one of two operating systems released around the millennium.  This one however was released slightly later than Windows 2000 being first made available on September 14th 2000.
Windows ME Logo


Windows XP

Windows XP was first released on October 25th 2001.  With Windows XP we saw the end of the 2 distinct NT based and 9x based product lines in favour of releasing an operating system that was “the best of both combined” and opting to have “personal” and “business” versions of the same operating system, to cater for everyones individual needs.  Although the NT core was taken forward, as it was seen as more suitable, reliable and giving a better performance, many parts of the 9x line also went into Windows XP.
Windows XP Logo


Windows Server 2003

Windows Server 2003 was first released to the public on April 25th 2003.
Windows Server 2003 Logo


Windows Vista

Windows Vista is the latest incarnation of the Windows operating system.   Windows Vista was first released to the public on January 30th 2007 although it had been available since November 30th 2006 for business use.
Windows Vista Logo


Windows Home Server

Windows Home Server was first released on July 16th 2007.
Windows Home Server Logo


Windows Server 2008

Windows Server 2008 was first released to the general public on February 27th 2008 and is the successor to the Windows Server 2003 operating system.
Windows Server 2008 Logo


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