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The Unusual History of Microsoft Windows

Part 1: The Dawn of Windows

By

Microsoft Windows
Microsoft logo used with permission
On November 10, 1983, at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, Microsoft Corporation formally announced Microsoft Windows, a next-generation operating system that would provide a graphical user interface (GUI) and a multitasking environment for IBM computers.

Introducing Interface Manager

Microsoft promised that the new product would be on the shelf by April 1984. Windows might have been released under the original name of Interface Manager if marketing whiz, Rowland Hanson had not convinced Microsoft's founder Bill Gates that Windows was the far better name.

Did Windows Get Top View?

That same November in 1983, Bill Gates showed a beta version of Windows to IBM's head honchos. Their response was lackluster probably because they were working on their own operating system called Top View. IBM did not give Microsoft the same encouragement for Windows that they gave the other operating system that Microsoft brokered to IBM. In 1981, MS-DOS became the highly successful operating system that came bundled with an IBM computer.

Top View was released in February of 1985 as a DOS-based multitasking program manager without any GUI features. IBM promised that future versions of Top View would have a GUI. That promise was never kept, and the program was discontinued barely two years later.

A Byte Out of Apple

No doubt, Bill Gates realized how profitable a successful GUI for IBM computers would be. He had seen Apple's Lisa computer and later the more successful Macintosh or Mac computer. Both Apple computers came with a stunning graphical user interface.

Wimps

Side Note: Early MS-DOS diehards liked to refer to MacOS (Macintosh operating system)as "WIMP", an acronym for the Windows, Icons, Mice and Pointers interface.

Competition

As a new product, Microsoft Windows faced potential competition from IBM's own Top View, and others. VisiCorp's short-lived VisiOn, released in October 1983, was the official first PC-based GUI. The second was GEM (Graphics Environment Manager), released by Digital Research in early 1985. Both GEM and VisiOn lacked support from the all-important third-party developers. Since, if nobody wanted to write software programs for an operating system, there would be no programs to use, and nobody would want to buy it.

Microsoft finally shipped Windows 1.0 on November 20, 1985, almost two years past the initially promised release date.

Continue>> Getting the Bugs out of Microsoft Windows

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