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Excited for Windows 10? You won't believe how far it's come since Windows 1.0

If you're excited for the launch of Microsoft's Windows 10 at 18:00 tonight (opens in new tab), we can completely understand. Is this the operating system that will finally bring Microsoft to the top of the software ladder?

After all, Windows 8.x is a flop. As much as I love it, I'm a realist. The operating system has taken 20 months to grab just 12.54 per cent market share. Windows Vista, the previously used example of a failed OS, was at 19.82 per cent in the same time frame. Windows 7, which followed Vista, has been a great success, and there's every reason to think Windows 9 will do much, much better than Windows 8.x has.

With all the changes happening to Windows over the next generation, it's easy to forget the humble origins of the ubiquitous operating system. Let's take a look back at where it all began: with Windows 1.

The development of Windows was spearheaded by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, after he saw a demonstration of Visi On, a graphical user interface software suite for IBM PC compatibles.

Microsoft first presented Windows to the public on 10 November 1983. Requiring two floppy disk drives and 192 KB of RAM, Microsoft described the software as a device driver for MS-DOS 2.0.

Windows 1.0 was released to mixed reviews. Most critics considered the platform to have future potential, but that Windows 1.0 had not fulfilled expectations. Many reviews criticised its overly demanding system requirements, especially noting the poor performance experienced when running multiple applications at once (one of the system's main advantages), and that Windows encouraged the use of a mouse for navigation, a relatively new concept at the time.

The New York Times compared the performance of Windows on a system with 512 KB of RAM to "pouring molasses in the Arctic" (sound familiar to anyone?), and that its design was inflexible for keyboard users due to its dependency on a mouse-oriented interface.

Garish colours, poor user interface and a lot of improvements to be made: remind anyone of Windows 8?


Paul has worked as an archivist, editor and journalist, and has a PhD in the cultural and literary significance of ruins. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, The BBC, The Atlantic, National Geographic, and Discover Magazine, and he was previously Staff Writer and Journalist at ITProPortal.