No matter what you think of Windows 8, it’s certain that Windows is both iconic and significant in the evolution of personal computing. It’s a series of operating systems, of course, but it’s also been a concept, a way of thinking, an influencer, and a touchstone for 30 years since Bill Gates introduced it on November 10, 1983.
The “Interface Manager” that would become Windows went into development in 1981 and finally had its public release as Windows 1.0 in November 1985. This first stab wasn’t actually a full OS, but more of a “graphical shell” that extended MS-DOS to have a user interface, as it is known today.
But Windows 1.0 had many defining OS features, like a calendar, clock, Microsoft Paint, a text editor, terminal, and clipboard. Windows allowed users to view multiple program windows at once, yup, though they couldn’t overlap at all. The early days of tiles! And 1.0 enabled data transfer between programs. Plus, it came with drivers for things like keyboards and the Microsoft Mouse, which had debuted earlier in 1983.
30 years seems simultaneously like an incredibly long time and a quick blur when you consider how Windows has evolved and spread to dominate between 80% and 90% OS marketshare. Windows 8 made it clear that Microsoft views interactive touch integration as crucial to a PC operating system going forward into the fourth Windows decade. Too bad hyper Ballmer ads won’t be the face of the next era.