By Delia / Last update January 28, 2022

In 2021, Microsoft released a new generation of operating system, Windows 11, with a modern look and interface & functional changes that some users love and some users feel uncomfortable with. This kind of polarized feedback seems to be a regular phenomenon when new systems are released in recent years, and many people will not think about what it was like 35 years ago when the first version of Windows was released.

Now, let's review the 35-year history of Windows OS from Windows 1.0 to Windows 11.

1. Windows 1.0

Release date: November 1985

windows 1.0

When the world was still working in the black command line, Microsoft already considered the next generation of operating system based on graphical UI, so Windows 1.0 made its debut. Even though it was so rudimentary in today's eyes. But it was this version that laid much of the foundation for future Windows - the control panel, menus, windowed operations, multitasking. Especially the introduction of 256 colors and the mouse, directly introduced people to a new world, a completely different world from the previous DOS.

However, unlike the imaginary cheer, because Windows 1.0 is only a software under DOS, each time you enter to go to DOS to execute a command. The general public was not too keen on this "nesting" type of operation, and with almost zero Windows software available at the time, Windows 1.0 was not a success!

2. Windows 2.x

Release date: December 1987

windows 2.x

Two years later, Microsoft launched Windows 2.0, a new generation of operating systems that took advantage of the high speed of the Intel 286/386 processor and the large memory for inter-program communication. In particular, the graphics feature was introduced, allowing Windows to achieve the window overlay effect for the first time. It was also from this version that more and more manufacturers started to develop software for Windows and for the first time the market shares of Windows increased significantly.

3. Windows 3.x

Release date: May 1990

windows 3.x

With the great development of hardware and display technology, Windows 3.0 introduced 16-color icons with 32x32 pixels for the first time. Windows 3.x consisted of three sub-versions, 3.0, 3.1, and 3.2, each of which had memorable features. For example, 3.0 improved the memory management technology, 3.1 added multimedia and network support, and 3.2 launched the first Simplified Chinese version. It was from this version that Windows began to really come into the eyes of the Chinese people.

4. Windows 95

Release date: August 1995

windows 95

Windows 95 was released in 1995, which was the first standalone version of Windows that no longer depended on DOS. The Start menu was first introduced in Win95 and gradually became a Windows icon over the next 20 years or so.

But as a 16-bit and 32-bit hybrid system, along with Win95 came what would become known as the "Blue Screen of Death" (BSOD). After that, Microsoft released Win95-A, Win95 OSR2 and other fixes, in addition to adding IE4.0, USB, FAT32 and other support, another obvious change is to improve the stability of Win95.

5. Windows 98

Release date: June 1998

windows 98

Microsoft was thrilled by the scene of Win95's million people, and three years later, its sequel, Windows 98, came. Inheriting the graphical interface and operation logic of Win95, Win98 was optimized in terms of functions and details. To use a less appropriate analogy, if Win95 is to build a framework for the whole system, then Win98 is to start slowly carving on this framework.

Win98 is the first operating system developed by Microsoft specifically for the Internet, so in its interface, you can see a lot of functional modules related to it, such as Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, Microsoft Chat, NetMeeting. Active Desktop), which allows users to view website content directly without opening a browser.

In addition to networking features, Win98 also created many firsts. For example, it was the first to support multiple monitors, the first to support USB (USB support was also added later in Win95 OSR2), and the first to support DVD playback at, etc. Compared with Win95, Win98 is more excellent in hardware support, users can easily connect keyboard, mouse, audio, printer, scanner and other hardware. It is also due to this feature of Win98 that it was still able to rule the personal computer market for a long time afterwards. Even Microsoft had to make an exception for it - extending the technical support of Win98 for two years!

6. Windows 2000

Release date: February 2000

windows 2000

Unlike the aforementioned Win9X, Windows 2000 was part of Microsoft's NT product line, i.e. the business operating system. Win2000 is divided into four versions: Professional, Server, Advanced Server and DataCenter.

Although facing commercial use, Win2000 still absorbed many features of the then home operating system (Win9X). In addition, it also actively expanded in the business field, improving storage services, file encryption, NTFS 5, Active Directory, domain, remote computing and other features. It was this "all-you-can-eat" strategy that won Win2000 a good reputation among both home customers (mainly geeks who valued system stability) and business customers. And for a long time, it became the standard in the server market.

7. Windows Me

Release date: September 2000

windows me

Although Win2000 had one thing or another, it was not a home operating system after all. At that time, Microsoft was still troubled by the endless "blue screen" of Win98, and urgently needed a new home system to shift the pressure. In this background, Windows Me was born.

"Me" is the abbreviation of "Millennium Edition", which means "Millennium (2000)", but Microsoft obviously did not prepare too much material for this "cross-century" version. Like Win98, WinMe is also a 16-bit/32-bit hybrid operating system. Although the overall architecture is better than Win98 with the removal of DOS real mode, the system stability is still not ideal due to drivers and other reasons.

WinMe inherited the UI design of Win2000, making it more contemporary in appearance compared to Win98. WinMe greatly optimized multimedia functions, such as upgrading Media Player, adding Movie Maker, providing native USB plug-and-play, etc., many of which were very advanced at that time. Nowadays, many users still remember the classic "Space Cadet" game, which can be said to have carried the joy of countless people's childhood.

Of course, WinMe also has many problems, first of all, the high hardware configuration requirements, many of the original computer can run Win98 smoothly, after the change of WinMe began to appear lagging phenomenon. Secondly, the hardware manufacturers do not give a good performance, so WinMe's blue screen is even more serious than Win98. The last straw that crushed it was the game, WinMe was not compatible with many old games, which made the computer users very dissatisfied at that time. Eventually WinMe became the "shortest-lived Windows in history" and Microsoft did not launch a successor version for it.

8. Windows XP

Release date: October 2001

windows xp

Perhaps it was the success of Win2000 that made Microsoft happy, or it was the fiasco of WinMe that made the giant restless. Anyway, in October 2001, Microsoft released Windows XP, the first pure 32-bit desktop operating system, which added a new Luna graphical interface, different from the previous Win9X and Win2000. WinXP provided better WiFi support and added network QoS security mechanisms to make network management easier. It was also the first Microsoft home system to integrate firewall, remote desktop, file restore, automatic error reporting, NTFS and other features internally. It can be said that the technical changes of WinXP are no less than those of Win95.

Although WinXP has a number of built-in system features, but due to the unreasonable software design, there are still many vulnerabilities in the initial version. The most impressive one is the shockwave and shockwave viruses that used RPC vulnerabilities to spread widely, and the automatic shutdown interface that used to chill countless users still makes people palpitate. In addition, WinXP also put more requirements on computer hardware, and like now, people generally had an inexplicable fear of XP at that time. But with the introduction of the XP patch package (SP) and the spurt in computer performance, these problems have since slowly disappeared, and WinXP has become another "system wizard" that dominates the desktop after Win98!

9. Windows Vista

Release date: January 2007

windows vista

Windows Vista is the longest operating system in Microsoft's history, and it took 5 years from the previous generation of WinXP. Five years to sharpen a sword, the birth of Vista is also amazed the world. Aero, highlights, shadows, reflections, hairy glass, 3D interface, gadget sidebar, etc. Compared with XP, its improvements in the interface can be described as a sea change, so much so that many media at the time called it " luxury cruise ship".

Of course the cost of the luxury cruise is also very obvious, its harsh requirements on hardware (especially the graphics card, memory), almost more than all previous versions. The Windows 11 requirements for TPM2.0, which is now widely discussed, can only be considered small compared to the year of Vista.

Of course, it is undeniable that Vista also set a lot of precedents. Its advocacy of "glass" has not only affected itself, but also the entire operating system market. At the same time, Vista has also made many technical advances, including the first integration of IPv6, the addition of the SuperFetch preload mechanism, built-in DirectX 10, the provision of hybrid sleep (Hiber Sleep), the upgrade of Windows Mail, the addition of a window search bar, built-in voice recognition, and the provision of user account control (UAC).

10. Windows 7

Release date: October 2009

windows 7

Due to Vista's overly advanced hardware requirements and the lack of some features in its design, its market performance was extremely unsatisfactory. So Microsoft launched its improved version - Windows 7. Win7 inherited the cool appearance of Vista while concentrating on fixing some old problems, the more obvious ones are system resource usage, UAC (User Account Control), GDI acceleration, SuperFetch, the result The result is that Win7 has been significantly improved over Vista, both in terms of system fluency and user experience. In addition, due to the two-year gap, when Win7 was introduced, the mainstream computer configuration in the market had also been greatly improved, and all these contributed to the leap of Win7 in user reputation.

In terms of details, the changes of Win7 are also obvious, IE8, web page acceleration, library, taskbar progress bar, new version of Media Center, Ribbon introduced in a large scale, more powerful firewall ......, more abundant and more pragmatic than Vista.

11. Windows 8

Release date: October 2012

windows 8

Windows 8 is Microsoft's first tile-based operating system, with an innovative swipe-based approach to human-computer interaction.

Tiles are not only found on the home screen, but also on various applications, a special kind of software called Metro apps. Unlike traditional installation methods, Metro apps must be searched and downloaded through the Microsoft App Store. At the same time, in order to facilitate touch, File Explorer and other traditional modules, also began to change the Ribbon UI on a large scale, all these make Windows 8 looks very different from the past.

Everything has its advantages and disadvantages, the addition of tiles is the last big attempt, but also to a large extent affect the traditional user operating habits. One of the most obvious problems is that the desktop is much more cumbersome to enter and shut down than before. And because the traditional Start menu was eliminated, keyboard and mouse users had to find the content they wanted in the large Start screen, not to mention those who have long been accustomed to the right-click operation that can greatly improve efficiency.

After Win8 suffered the biggest freeze in its history, Microsoft released its improved version, Windows 8.1, which is optimized specifically for keyboard and mouse users. For example, you can enter the desktop directly after booting, the Start icon is still displayed in the lower left corner of the desktop, tiles can be reduced to icon size, and the Start screen has built-in traditional module entrance. But in general, it is not fundamentally different from Win8, especially when Win7 is still in its prime. In this case, many users would rather stick to Win7 than try the newer Win8/8.1.

To be fair, the Win8/8.1 series still added many of the latest software and hardware technologies available at the time. For example, the first operating system to support 3D printing, the first support for retina (Retina) high-resolution displays, the first inclusion of the children's corner feature, the first native support for USB 3.0, the first built-in Hyper-V virtualization technology, the first addition of Windows To Go (install the system into a USB device), and so on. However, the retail market did not buy it, making Win8/8.1 more or appear in OEM machines.

12. Windows 10

Release date: October 2014

windows 10

In 2014, a new comprehensive operating system, Windows 10, was born, which incorporated many new designs, such as a new version of the Start menu, notification panel, personal voice assistant (Cortana), virtual desktop, desktop Windows 10 includes many new designs, such as the new Start Menu, Notification Panel, Personal Voice Assistant (Cortana), Virtual Desktop, Desktop Search Bar, Time Line, Tablet Mode, etc., which effectively solved the problems encountered by Win8/8.1 before. At the same time, in Windows 10, Metro applications (called Modern in Windows 10) no longer appear in full-screen form, but in the same standard windowed style as traditional Win32, which not only satisfies the habits of keyboard and mouse users, but also takes into account the operating experience of touch screen.

In addition to the functional advances, Windows 10 also introduced the first "as a service" concept, that is, Windows no longer as a separate operating system, but regularly introduced new features in the form of cloud updates. The effect was immediate, as users were able to access new features with a simple system update, rather than a cumbersome manual installation. It is with this mechanism in mind that Windows 10 has undergone several major improvements in its 6+ years of iteration. Both the appearance and detailed features have been greatly improved from the initial generation. Most critically, this mechanism allows Windows 10 to be more responsive to changes in the market and user side in a way that previous versions could not.

Of course, as the latest version of Microsoft's operating system at this stage, Windows 10 is also very complete in terms of support for new technologies. Cloud services, smart mobile devices, natural human-computer interaction, seamless file delivery, biometric security recognition, and native support for NvMe SSDs have all established its position in the desktop market. However, in the late stage of Windows 10, the frequent bugs brought by the frequent updates made users complain a lot. In particular, the UI splitting problem that has not been solved for a long time has added fuel to the fire. So in June 2021, Windows 11 was born!

13. Windows 11

Release date: October 2021

windows 11

Out of consideration for the new working model and dissatisfaction with the performance of Windows 10, Microsoft released a new generation of Windows 11 on October 5, 2021. Compared with Windows 10, Windows 11 brings a lot of exciting changes. The first is the UI, the new version in addition to solve the current version of the problems, but also the innovative introduction of a lot of new design, such as new Explorer, new settings panel, new notification center, new operation center, new virtual desktop, new application store, etc., so that the whole system looks brand new.

Secondly, Windows 11 also has obvious improvements to touch, not only in the new tablet mode, but also in the traditional Explorer, context menu, start menu, settings panel, operation center, window layout, etc. Not just for aesthetics, but to consider how to better balance the touch screen and keyboard and mouse users.

Of course, there are many users think that these changes make the operation rather troublesome, such as the original directly displayed in the context menu some options were moved to the next level of the menu, making the user need to click the mouse one more time. Currently, Microsoft is also improving these issues based on user feedback.

Openness has also become a feature of Windows 11. During the conference, Microsoft demonstrated running Android apps directly in Windows 11. This also means that in the future we will be able to run mobile apps directly without the assistance of other software to improve productivity. Further narrowing the gap between computers and other smart devices.

The return of gadgets can be seen as a rebirth of Microsoft's efficiency tools. In the new gadgets panel, we cannot only arrange weather, road conditions, schedule and to-do at will like the negative screen of the phone, but also select any information we are interested in and set up an information center.

Finally, Windows 11 has also tried its best to improve the most criticized update problem in Windows. In addition to reducing the frequency of unnecessary updates, the size of the update package has also dropped significantly compared to Windows 10 (officially 40%). This will not only bring shorter update time, but also make the operating system faster and more power-efficient.

Write at the end

Throughout the history of Windows development, it is easy to see that it is actually recording the changes in people's needs for operating systems. From the very first Windows 1.0/2.0, to the later Win98, WinXP, Win7, and then Win8/8.1, which suffered from the Waterloo, the success or failure has given the industry a new vitality. So in the next era, what will Windows 11 become? We will wait and see.