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Microsoft Windows iconic “Start” button turned 25 this week

Windows 95 was launched on August 24, 1995.   | Photo Credit: Microsoft

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This week marked the silver jubilee year of Windows 95 – the OS version which introduced the iconic “Start” button.

Microsoft Windows continues to be a prominent name in personal computing as the software has continuously evolved for nearly three and a half decades to become one of the most widely-used OS globally.

Watch | The evolution of Microsoft Windows over the years
 

From its first version – Windows 1.0, in 1985, to its present version – Windows 10, launched in 2015, users have experienced and adopted the different versions of Windows OS. Microsoft claims there are over a billion devices that run its latest software.

Here’s a look at the product’s milestones and defining features over the years.

Windows 1.0 was a graphical user interface (GUI) built on top of Microsoft’s Disk Operating System (MS-DOS). Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates described it as “unique software designed for the serious PC user.”

First version of Microsoft Windows – Windows 1.0, was released in 1985.

First version of Microsoft Windows – Windows 1.0, was released in 1985.   | Photo Credit: Microsoft

 

The GUI introduced files and folders icons to Windows users. It also supported multitasking with a tiled view, and allowed users to run different programmes simultaneously with a provision to transfer data between programmes.

People used mouse to navigate and access content on their computers, instead of typing out commands to execute tasks. This version of Windows included programmes such as Calculator, Control Panel, Clock, Notepad, Reversi, Calendar, Paint, and Cardfile.

In 1987, Windows 2.0 was launched with improvements in GUI and speed. Soon after, Microsoft introduced Windows 2.1, which was the first Windows OS version requiring a hard disk.

Windows 3.0 was launched with a cleaner GUI.

Windows 3.0 was launched with a cleaner GUI.   | Photo Credit: Microsoft

 

Three years later, Microsoft launched Windows 3.0 with a cleaner GUI that was better at multitasking. Microsoft included an anti-virus as part of the Windows applications for scanning the drives for virus. The iconic card game Solitaire was introduced in Windows 3.0 - - the game involved users dragging and dropping stacked cards using the mouse.

Solitaire was introduced in Windows 3.0 - - the game involved users dragging and dropping stacked cards using the mouse.

Solitaire was introduced in Windows 3.0 - - the game involved users dragging and dropping stacked cards using the mouse.   | Photo Credit: Microsoft

Minesweeper, a puzzle game where a user tried to avoid mines in a rectangular plane with tiles.

Minesweeper, a puzzle game where a user tried to avoid mines in a rectangular plane with tiles.   | Photo Credit: Microsoft

 

Microsoft updated the software in 1992 to support multimedia programmes like Media Player and Sound Recorder. The Reversi game was replaced by another Windows classic, Minesweeper, a puzzle game where a user tried to avoid mines in a rectangular plane with tiles. After a few tiring encounters with the mines, users could turn on the desktop screen saver with the Flying Windows.

In 1993, Windows NT (New Technology) 3.1, a 32-bit operating system, was launched with CD-ROM support, and introduced NTFS (NT File System). NTFS would go on to replace the File Allocation Table (FAT) used by DOS-based operating systems.

“Start” menu and the Internet

1995 marked the release of the next major version of Microsoft’s OS - Windows 95. This version of Windows introduced several updates that are still being used by Windows users.

Windows 95 introduced “Start” menu, task bar, recycle bin, desktop shortcuts, and My Computer.

Windows 95 introduced “Start” menu, task bar, recycle bin, desktop shortcuts, and My Computer.   | Photo Credit: Microsoft

 

Windows 95 introduced “Start” menu, task bar, recycle bin, desktop shortcuts, and My Computer; the software was available in CDs for the first time.

The OS integrated DOS and Windows, and added support for new “plug and play” capability for installing hardware. The GUI improvements were significant compared with its predecessors.

Microsoft also introduced Internet Explorer web browser in Windows 95, offering its users an interface to access the Internet.

Windows 98 was introduced with advanced Internet connectivity support.

Windows 98 was introduced with advanced Internet connectivity support.   | Photo Credit: Microsoft

 

Three years later, Windows 98 was introduced with advanced Internet connectivity support and minor UI enhancements. Windows Update and Disk Cleanup were introduced as part of this OS. The use of Windows Driver Model also started with Windows 98.

In the new millennium, Microsoft launched the Windows Millennium Edition (Me). It included the new Windows Movie Maker, a video editing tool, and also upgraded versions of other stock programmes such as Internet Explorer. It was designed for home users while the Windows 2000 was for business users.

The OS was not received well by many users and critics as it had stability issues. Some real mode drivers and applications could not run after Microsoft’s move to restrict support for real mode MS-DOS to increase boot performance.

Windows XP was launched as a colourful OS, a major leap in visual enhancements.

Windows XP was launched as a colourful OS, a major leap in visual enhancements.   | Photo Credit: Microsoft

 

A year later Windows XP was launched as a colourful OS, a major leap in visual enhancements. Windows XP was available in two editions, Home and Professional, and was not based on DOS.

Both Start menu and taskbar were updated in Windows XP. The Start menu got a double column layout that displayed programmes used frequently and recently opened documents. The updated taskbar could group multiple windows of an active programme.

The OS had product activation hitches, and security issues, as a result, it received flak from users and critics.

Windows XP also included Windows Security Centre, Internet Explorer 8, Windows Media Player 9, Windows Movie Maker 5, and 3D Pinball game.

Beginning of the ‘touch’ era

After nearly eight years, in July 2009, Microsoft launched Windows 7 with a more fluidic UI and speed enhancements. It supported multi-touch input, handwriting recognition, and allowed personalisation options.

Windows 7 supported multi-touch input, and handwriting recognition.

Windows 7 supported multi-touch input, and handwriting recognition.   | Photo Credit: Microsoft

 

Users could add widgets such as calendar, clock, and weather to their desktop. Both, Start button and task bar, got some design changes.

Certain section of existing Windows users, including some Windows Vista users voiced issues pertaining to the pricing and upgrade options. In some cases, existing Windows users were required to do fresh installations due to limited options.

In October 2012, Windows 8 was introduced with significant changes in UI. The OS offered a general tiled theme, including the blue Windows boot-up logo. The Start menu layout transformed into a screen of multi-coloured tiles with apps. Vibrant colours were used with new UI animations.

Microsoft

Windows 8 was introduced with significant changes in UI to support touch-based Windows system.   | Photo Credit: Microsoft

 

The OS design elements supported touch-based Windows system, including Windows tablets, and 2-in-1 laptops. Microsoft Store also offered apps for generally used programmes. Multi-tasking experience was improved with side-by-side adjustable windows.

Windows 8 offered touch and gestures controls; it also supported USB 3.0. A year later, Windows 8.1 was released with a few more upgrades compared to the earlier version.

The move to redesign UI and the new app layout with tiles was a big change for some users. Although, the design overhaul was focused on making the OS touch-friendly, lack of adequate information and unfamiliarity with the new touch-based Windows setup dissatisfied many users and reviewers.

Windows 10 reintroduced the Start menu with customisable layout to add or delete rows and tiles while it retained some design elements from its predecessors.

Windows 10 reintroduced the Start menu with customisable layout to add or delete rows and tiles while it retained some design elements from its predecessors.   | Photo Credit: Microsoft

 

Since its launch over five years ago, with a free update to millions of Windows users, Windows 10, featured new innovations like the Cortana intelligent assistant, the Edge browser, and the ability to stream Xbox games.

It reintroduced the Start menu with customisable layout to add or delete rows and tiles while it retained some design elements from its predecessors. Windows 10 supports universal apps, and developers can design the universal apps to support multiple products under the Windows umbrella.

Windows 10 also introduced new options for biometric login, and supported facial recognition and fingerprint logins. It also brought gesture controls to the touchpad.

It is the latest OS which supports both touch as well as non-touch Windows devices. For the 2-in-1 devices, the OS automatically detects and prompts a user to switch between laptop and tablet modes and back.

Microsoft said Windows 10 reached 75 million devices in just four weeks, outpacing all of its previous launches.


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Printable version | Oct 17, 2021 1:27:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/microsoft-windows-iconic-start-button-turned-25-this-week/article32474993.ece

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