A History of Windows: Windows Timeline

With the recent release of Windows 10, we thought it would be good to go back through the old versions of Windows to see how the operating system has changed over the years. Travelling back through time to the conception of Windows (in 1982 with Windows 1.0) proved a nostalgic, albeit a lengthy (!), experience. Instead, here we will look at Windows in more recent history, starting in 2001 with the release of Windows XP.

Windows XP

Release date: October 25, 2001

In 2001, Microsoft released Windows XP; Windows XP was released with a heavy focus on usability. The start menu, task bar and control panel were easier to navigate and far more intuitive then previous versions of Windows operating systems. General awareness of issues such as hackers and viruses became more prevalent among individuals in the public but Microsoft quelled these fears substantially by ensuring online deliverance of security updates and monitoring processes; combine this with the heavier emphasis on Help and Support meant Windows XP provided a more comprehensive user experience for Windows customers.

Windows Vista

Release date: November 8, 2006

Windows Vista (2006) is widely acknowledged to have had a mixed reception (to put it somewhat mildly) but there were elements of Vista which were held in high regard by reviewers; Vista was defined as having been designed for more powerful computers and users which resulted in many individuals feeling they did not get full use out of the system. Some individuals praise Vista highly, whilst others note that for the everyday users, Vista may not be an essential upgrade. Microsoft cited Vista as having the strongest security system to date, with enhancements to Windows Media Player and a rebranded look to search and the Windows start button.

Windows 7

Release date: July 22, 2009

2009 saw the introduction of Windows 7 and Windows Touch; new features such as snap, peek and shake improve Windows functionality and inspire a fun use of the interface. Windows Touch allow users with touchscreen devices to use the functionality for web browsing, picture viewing, file navigation etc.

Windows 8

Release date: October 26, 2012

Windows 8 was released in 2012 and included the biggest change to the Windows interface to date, which many argued was best suited to touchscreen users. A particularly appreciated version of Windows 8 was its lock screen. As well as the date and time, the lock screen displayed additional little nuggets of information such as how many emails users had. Gone was the start button, instead, the start screen operated as a full view of apps and programs and the live element allowed tiles to display live information from Apps; search was still available and required users to merely start typing to take advantage of this feature when in the Start screen. Many users found this feature frustrating, stating that it was not as user friendly or convenient.

Windows 8 also boosted some full screen apps with were very touch friendly, others that were not compatible for full screen were displayed in the desktop mode. Running apps side by side, thereby encouraging and complimenting multitasking was an exciting and much appreciated feature (certainly by those of us that spend our days multitasking!) which was particularly valued with the diverse range of apps available to individuals in the Windows Store.

Other features such as built-in antivirus (Windows Defender), a new task manager, windows explorer, cloud sync and the briefly mentioned Windows Store all made their début with Windows 8 as well.

Windows 8.1

Release date: October 17, 2013

Microsoft listened to users who wanted to start their device to a more familiar screen, and one of the biggest noted changes was the ability to be able to power up straight to the desktop start menu, as opposed to the live tiles start page. The start button itself was back, in a fashion, but didn’t quite fulfil what we expect was imagined by users. A snazzy new feature from Windows 8.1 was Search Heroes; this essentially let you preform action from your searches. An example of an action preformed through search hero is media based; searching for a destination would bring up a map, current weather and a list of attractions for the specified region.

When available through developer allowance, Windows 8.1 let you horizontally side windows to allow apps to run side-by-side; providing display resolution is adequate, you can also run up to four apps in unison. Windows 8.1 also benefits from a new, radically redesigned Store, a huge update of features and options in the new-style Settings page and Helps & Tips allow a user to fully get to grips with the new system with helpful animations and full tours of the operating system.

Windows 10

Release date: 28 July, 2015

The launch of Windows 10 assured Windows users around the world that Microsoft heard its follows and took note of the argument that Windows 8 was for touchscreen users; a smooth, more intuitive operating system has been designed, that includes elements of the Windows 8 interface (namely live tiles) next to more traditional elements including (drum roll please) the start bar!! It is back in all its glory!