The Windows 1.0 operating system is 40 years old

The first version of the Windows operating system was Microsoft's attempt at using a multi-tasking user interface instead of dry command lines.

Microsoft revealed Windows 1.0 in November 1983. Since then, Windows still dominates the desktop computer market to this day. Let's look back at Microsoft's historic announcement about Windows 1.0 after 40 years in the following article!

Apple released the Lisa in early 1983

In the early 1980s, computer operating systems were command-based operating systems used by entering text commands. However, a GUI (graphical user interface) revolution is taking place in the IT industry. Apple took a leading position in that revolution when it launched the Lisa in early 1983. It was one of the first PCs with a graphical user interface, allowing users to open programs and files using mouse.

However, the problem with the Apple Lisa is that it's a bit too revolutionary. It was a computer that was a bit ahead of its time with very high specs for an early 1980s PC. This made the Lisa extremely expensive, with a starting price of approximately $10,000. Most users prefer to stick with the slightly cheaper IBM PC.

The Windows 1.0 operating system is 40 years old Picture 1


Microsoft launches Windows 1.0 at COMDEX

However, Lisa still caught the attention of many people in the IT industry with its revolutionary graphical operating system (the predecessor of Macintosh). In response to Lisa (and Visi on the graphical operating system), Microsoft started a GUI operating system project codenamed Interface Manager. Bill Gates announced the development of Windows 1.0 at the Plaza Hotel in New York on November 10, 1983.

When Microsoft announced Windows 1.0, the company said it was a window manager extension of MS-DOS. Microsoft expected Windows 1.0 to expand the MS-DOS software development environment by allowing developers to release more graphically oriented programs. Therefore, the first Windows operating system was more of a complement to MS-DOS than a replacement.

Microsoft demonstrated the first Windows 1.0 pre-release at COMDEX (computer trade show) in November 1983. The world first saw the Windows operating system on a green screen 40 years ago. The first Windows platform allowed users to access multiple running programs by clicking their icons on a bar, much like today's taskbar.

Windows 1.0 also came with a number of applications that today's users are familiar with. Notepad, Paint, and Calc (Calculator) are three programs that came with Windows 1.0 and have remained part of the operating system family ever since. Users can also select the Writer (word processor), Clock, Reversi (board game), Clipboard and Calendar programs from the MS-DOS Executive shell.


The Windows 1.0 operating system is 40 years old Picture 2

You can see what Windows 1.0 looked like on this IBM PC emulator page. Click Full Screen to maximize that emulator's window. Try launching some programs from MS-DOS Executive and minimizing them to the program bar by double-clicking their window title bar. You can switch between programs by clicking their icons in the bar, just like on the current Windows platform.

The Windows 1.0 operating system is 40 years old Picture 3

The Windows revolution began… in 1995

Microsoft delayed the release of Windows 1.0 with a number of additional modifications and improvements. The history of Windows began when the first public version of Windows 1.0 appeared in November 1985, two years after Microsoft announced it. Microsoft launched Windows 1.0 in the US at an affordable price of 99 USD.

Users were really not impressed by Windows 1.0 when experiencing it firsthand. The original Windows operating system had some performance and software compatibility issues. Many people at that time considered Windows 1.0 a failure. So most users preferred to stick with MS-DOS commands throughout the remainder of the 1980s.


PCs of the 1980s were not quite ready for GUI operating systems. The much heavier system demands of a graphical operating system made performance issues inevitable with the limited hardware of the time. PC hardware took about 7 to 10 years to develop before the Windows revolution really began in 1995.

The Windows 1.0 operating system is 40 years old Picture 4

Windows finally hit the big time in 1995. Adding an official Start menu and taskbar to Windows 95 made all the difference. So PCs in the mid-1990s were also much better equipped to handle GUI platforms. After that, the Windows family of operating systems dominated the desktop computer market and the world switched to MS-DOS.