The first truly successful Microsoft Windows operating system is twenty years old today; Windows 3.0 was launched on the 22nd of May 1990 and was the successor to Windows 2.1x.
The Graphics User interface (technically it was not an operating system) sat on top of MS-DOS and could run applications for the operating system from within a Window and many might fondly remember that it was available on 5.25-inch high density floppy disks.
More significantly, it proved to be the perfect partner for Intel's then-new range of 386 processor, which bought protected mode and extended memory capabilities to the market.
Windows 3.0 became more popular thanks to a completely rewritten application development environment, the ability to display 16-colours simultaneously and a new software development kit.
It also introduced the world to applications that are now part of the Windows experience; File Manager, Write, Paint Brush, Print manager and Program manager.
Windows 3.0 played an important part in convincing Microsoft to release Visual Basic which came one year later and competed with the likes of Borland (Remember them?)
The GUI is also widely regarded as the one reason why IBM killed its own operating system, OS/2. Microsoft launched Windows 3.0 despite the fact that it had signed a strategic partnership with Big Blue to support OS/2.
The rest, as they say, is history. Windows 3.0 was soon to be forgotten as Windows NT and Windows 3.11 were launched a few years later. For those looking to have a quick play at Windows operating systems from yesteryear, MS-DOS 6.0, 6.22 and Windows 3.11 are available on Technet (yep).