The transformation of Microsoft Windows from 1985 to 2022


Windows 1.0 and 2.0 met with limited success, but with its next version of Windows, Microsoft’s fortunes would change. While version 3.0 was a significant upgrade over its predecessor, version 3.1 became the most widespread and popular version, so it was the most talked about. To reinforce its success, Windows 3.1 appeared just as the Internet was beginning to take hold, gaining users exponentially.

Some significant improvements in 3.1, according to PC World, were the program manager, file manager, use of TrueType fonts, control panel, and more. 3.1 introduced 3D-style buttons and greatly improved graphics capabilities that allowed them to display programs as icons in the Program Manager, a departure from the text-based MS-DOS executive it replaced. 3.1 added multimedia support which allowed users to significantly improve audio and video capabilities. Windows 3.1 also introduced the world to ctrl-alt-delete. We dug up these details and found that there was some controversy over this idea as Bill Gates wanted a dedicated button to do this task, but the developers prevailed.

3.1 paved the way for Microsoft to reside on the majority of computers today. And while modern users might find it frustrating, difficult, clunky, and finicky to do anything with, it was a major breakthrough and probably the first introduction to personal computers for tens of millions of people in its day.


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