Thirty-one years ago on Monday, Microsoft introduced the first version of Windows, known as Windows 1.0.
The software wasn’t officially released until 1985, but Gates took the wraps off Microsoft’s first computer operating system during an event at New York City’s Plaza Hotel on Nov. 10, 1983.
We’ve come a long way since then — three decades later, the Windows ecosystem has gone through about 15 iterations.
Here’s a look at how Windows has changed throughout the years.
When Windows 3.0 debuted in 1990, it became the most widely used version of the software yet. Microsoft sold 10 million copies of Windows 3.0 in its first two weeks. With Windows 3.0, Microsoft significantly enhanced the software's performance, improved app icons, and added 16 colours to its graphics.
With Windows ME, or Millennium Edition, Microsoft added new media-focused features like Windows Movie Maker. It was also the first version of Windows to support System Restore, which allows you to reset your system's preferences to before a certain date. Windows ME faced some harsh criticisms when it hit the market, however. PCWorld listed it in their list of the Worst Tech Products of All Time countdown, and ABC's review criticised it for being difficult to install.
Windows XP was praised for its cleaner aesthetics and smooth performance. 'You'll hear few complaints about the operating system itself, especially when it's compared with previous versions,' David Pogue wrote in The New York Times' review back in 2001. 'No matter what you think of Microsoft, using Windows XP on a new or very recent PC feels sure, swift and satisfying. And that's a big deal.' Microsoft also says that it emphasised security with Windows XP.
Windows 8 was unveiled in October 2012. Microsoft completely changed the user interface of Windows 8 from the traditional desktop to a tiled, touch-friendly design. The goal was to optimise the OS for tablets, but Windows 8 was met with lukewarm reception at best. The software was criticised for its complicated interface and lack of a Start menu, which Microsoft brought back with Windows 10.
Microsoft recently unveiled the newest version of Windows, called Windows 10. The update will keep some of the elements Microsoft introduced in Windows 8 while also re-introducing older parts of the interface like the Start menu. Windows 10, according to Microsoft, is the first software update that is truly optimised to work across all different types of devices and screen sizes, from tablets to computers and smartphones. Expect it to launch in 2015.