Introduction to Microsoft Windows

Microsoft Timeline

Windows 1.0 November 1985 Development began in September 1981
Windows 2.0 Fall of 1987 Overlapping windows
Windows/386 late 1987 Ran multiple applications
Windows 3.0 May 1990 Sold over 10 million copies
Windows 3.1 April, 1992 3 millions copies sold in the first two months
Windows for Workgroups 3.1 October 1992 Integrated Network Support
Windows 3.11 November 1993 Free upgrade to Windows 3.1
Windows for Workgroups 3.11 November 1993 Upgrade to WFW 3.1
Windows NT 3.1 August 1993 First version on Windows NT
Windows NT 3.5 September 1994 NT upgrade
Windows 95 August 1995 remake of windows with new GUI
Windows NT 4.0 August 1995 remake of NT with new GUI
Windows CE September 1996 operating system for hand-held PCs

Microsoft OS Requirements

Operating System Processor RAM Hard Disk
MS-DOS 8086 512KB Less then 1MB
Windows 3.11 386SX 16MHz 2MB 8(10)MB
Windows 95 386DX 20MHz 4(8)MB 40MB
NT Workstation 4.0 486DX 33MHz 12(16)MB 120MB
NT Server 4.0 486DX 33MHz 16MB 130MB

Values in parentheses indicate recommended values

The Current Flavors of Windows

Microsoft Windows 95

Windows 95 is a 32 bit operating system that takes advantage of newer technology while still providing a wide range of support for older software programs and hardware. Hardware is fairly easy to manage with the built in Plug and Play support.

The upgrade path for Windows 95 will be the Windows 98 operating system. Windows 98 will eventually merge with the NT product line.

Microsoft Windows CE

Microsoft Windows CE is an operating system platform for a broad range of communications, entertainment and mobile-computing devices. Windows CE is compact in size and does not require large amounts of memory.

Between the Windows CE debut in September of 1996 and Jan 8, 1998 over half a million handheld PCs using Windows CE have been shipped.

Microsoft NT 4.0

There are currently two different versions of Microsoft NT 4.0. NT Server and NT workstation. The basic difference between Workstation and Server is that Workstation is tuned for use as a desk top system and Server has additional components for Network services and user management.

The development of the NT operating system was lead by David Cutler. Before joining Microsoft Cutler worked for Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). Cutler lead the development of the VMS operating system for DEC's VAX computer line from it's inception in April 1975, through the release of the VAX in October 1977, until the spring of 1981. Cutler became a legend in the computer industry for this effort.

After several frustrating years, Cutler led an exodus from DEC to Microsoft. Bill Gates of Microsoft was very happy to employ Cutler and his team. At this time Microsoft broke off its relationship with IBM and the joint development of OS/2. The Microsoft OS/2 team was merged with Cutler's team to create the core of the NT development team with Cutler leading.

The original version of NT took five years to develop and cost 150 million dollars. At the peak there were over 200 staff members working on the project.

NT was designed to run on several different types of computers but does not support older hardware as well as 95 does. NT is much more robust then 95 and provides more scaleability. The security system of NT is another major enhancement.

The future of Microsoft Windows

Windows 98 will offer full integration with Internet Explorer 4.0. The tenative release date for Windows 98 in July 1998.

Microsoft plan to phase out the consumer-oriented 9x line of its Windows operating system in favor of the Windows NT line. In the future, after the release of NT 5.0, there will be three flavors of NT -- a high-end version, a business version, and a consumer version.