Microsoft Windows is a group of OSs manufactured by Microsoft. Windows is available in 32 and 64-bit versions and offers a graphical user interface (GUI), multitasking functionalities, virtual memory management capabilities, and support for several peripheral devices. Windows OSs constitute client as well as server versions.
Some of the well-known client versions include Windows 98, ME, XP, Vista, and 7. Windows 7 is the most recent client version, as of 2011. Some of Windows server versions include Windows NT Server, 2000 Server, 2003 Server, and Server 2008 R2. Windows Server 2008 R2 is the most recent server version, as of 2011.
Microsoft Windows started as a vision, but its development vastly shaped the world of IT, perhaps more than any other OS. In 1983, Windows was announced by Microsoft's founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen. At that time, it was codenamed as Interface Manager, but the Windows name triumphed since it suitably described the windows or boxes needed to view the new OS.
On November, 1985, Microsoft introduced Windows 1.0. Before Windows was unveiled, users had to type MS-DOS commands. With the introduction of Windows 1.0, users use a mouse to click through windows or screens. Windows 1.0 included scroll bars, drop-down menus, dialog boxes, and icons, which were very user friendly compared to the earlier MS-DOS platform. Users were also able to switch between multiple programs without quitting and restarting each program.
Desktop icons and expanded memory were developed in later versions of Microsoft Windows, along with the capabilities of downloading Windows by way of floppy disks. Microsoft Windows virtual memory improved graphical interfaces. Together with other applications designed for Windows, the OS became very popular.
Microsoft Windows 95 emerged in August, 1995 to include built-in Internet support and dial-up networking. It also included its own email client known as Microsoft Outlook. By then, those who wished to upgrade their Microsoft Windows applications could do so only through both floppy disks and CD-ROMs. Apart from the internet capabilities, Windows 95 offered multimedia functions, mobile computing features, and integrated networking features.
By mid-1995, Microsoft released its first version of Internet Explorer. In 1998, Windows 98 was introduced as the first software for personal computer usage. It included system-restore applications and the ability to record, play, and share digital music and movies with Microsoft Windows Media Player 7. The launching of Windows 2000 included online security updates, which helped to educate consumers about computer threats such as viruses. Windows 2000 also enabled solid usage of vastly improved desktop features. The plug and play hardware, often used in gaming, was introduced with Windows 2000, along with mobile and USB device compatibility.
Soon to follow were new Microsoft OSs, such as Windows XP (2001), Windows Vista (2006) and Windows 7 (2009). The latter included wireless and finger browsing compatibilities. With support to peripheral electronic devices, gaming possibilities have increased through Microsoft Windows software. Microsoft Windows has grown to accommodate streamed data, data saved on flash drives, and data saved in the cloud, which included an online space for file sharing.
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