It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long. I remember testing out windows 1.0 back in college. It was, at the time, a poor competitor against the leading program of the day, Desqview by Quarterdeck. Desqview was a desktop shell that ran on top of DOS, but it also put the new Intel 286 processor into protected mode, which allowed for the full addressing range of 16meg, where DOS was limited to 1meg or RAM.
I didn’t start coding in windows until Version 3. All of that code was written for a 16bit environment, and by the time we got to Windows 3.0, we had the full protect mode offered by the Intel 386 and the new and exciting 486 processors. DOS was quickly dying off at this point. The only thing lacking from Windows 3.0 was a WinSocket layer and a true TCP/IP stack. Corporate adoption of windows 3.0 was pretty slow as a result. Windows 3.1 changed that, and that’s where Microsoft’s dominance of the desktop began. The success of windows 95 solidified Microsofts success, and that OS finally killed off DOS for good.
Windows XP was a big release for Microsoft. The OS had been completely rewritten to handle the new 32bit “native” environments and laid out the foundation for the windows developer environment that we have today.
Vista wasn’t that great. I think the problem with Vista, was that everyone (quite rightly) freaked out over the serious bugs in Windows XP and the resulting security problems, and Microsoft gave J-Q-Public exactly the OS they demanded. Vista is a great example of “getting more than you wished for”. People demanded that Mircosoft protect the user, even if that user was an idiot. With Vista, you got what you demanded. I hate that OS… It’s a bitch to develop code for, and the security model is so “in your face” that it hurts. the only part of Vista I liked, was the menu bar. everything else, well… everyone has their own opinions of how bad Vista was.
Windows 7 is the “Vista” that everyone expected. This, I think, was the first really solid example of windows since V3.1. the in-your-face security model was toned down some, and the internal security was ramped up more.
Windows 8.x – OMG… I have only written a few apps for this OS, and it’s horrid. Windows 8 was released to soon.. It’s what happens when you let the lawyers and accountants design software. That’s a job best left to the experts.