Windows 1.0 The seminal version of Windows released on November 20, 1985. Users could run programs in multiple windows simultaneously, sparing them the nuisance of quitting one application before launching another one.


Windows 95 released on August 24, 1995, equipping users with their first Start menu, as well as minimize and maximize buttons. Roughly 8 in 10 of the world’s PC’s were running Windows at the time of its release.


Windows 2000 launched on February 17, 2000. Rocker Carlos Santana performed his song “Smooth” at the launch party, but the rollout proved bumpy due to several hack attacks that made headline news. Microsoft was forced into defense, releasing security patches throughout the product’s lifecycle.


Windows Vista released on January 30, 2007, on the heels of the massive success of Windows XP. Vista proved to be a harder sell. Despite security improvements and graphical flourishes, such as transparent window panes and smoother animations, corporate users blanched at the initial price tag and the onerous licensing requirements. Adoption rates flagged as users stuck to their older versions of Windows




Windows 7 released on October 22, 2009 to rave reviews and a palpable sense of relief that Microsoft had recovered from the missteps of Windows Vista. The system introduced a new “Snap” feature that enabled users to easily snap windows into place, side-by-side, for easy multitasking. It also debuted touch gestures in response to the burgeoning market for touchscreen devices.




Windows 8 released on October 26, 2012, attempted to radically redesign the start screen with “Live Tiles,” a grid of commonly used apps designed for easy touching. The vast majority of Windows users continued to use the desktop PC’s, however, and found the redesign, particularly the loss of the Start button, disorienting.






Windows 8.1 released on 17, 2013, attempts to bridge the chasm gap between touch and PC interfaces, offering users their choice of Start screens. By now, tech pundits have a theory: every release of Windows alternates between hits and misses, setting expectations high for the next version, Windows 10.




Windows 10 which released on July 29, 2015, blends the familiar layout of Windows 7 with touch features from Windows 8. The Start menu makes a grand reentrance, with Live Tiles discreetly tucked inside. Cortana, Microsoft’s speech-activated assistant for smartphones, will also debut across all devices.


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