|A release of the Microsoft Windows operating system|
Screenshot of Microsoft Windows 1.01
|Source model||Closed source|
|20 November 1985|
|Latest release||1.04 / April 1987|
|Succeeded by||Windows 2.0 (1987)|
|Unsupported as of 31 December 2001|
Windows 1.0 is a graphical personal computer operating environment developed by Microsoft. First released on 20 November 1985 as the first version of the Microsoft Windows line, Windows 1.0 runs as a graphical, 16-bit multi-tasking shell on top of an existing MS-DOS installation, providing an environment which can run graphical programs designed for Windows, as well as existing MS-DOS software. Its development was spearheaded by the company founder, Bill Gates, after seeing a demo of a similar software suite known as Visi On at COMDEX.
Despite positive responses to its early presentations and support from a number of hardware and software makers, Windows 1.0 was received poorly by critics, who felt it did not meet their expectations. In particular, they felt that Windows 1.0 put too much emphasis on mouse input at a time when mouse use was not yet widespread; not providing enough resources for new users; and for suffering from performance issues, especially on systems with lower hardware specifications. Despite this criticism, Windows 1.0 proved to be an important milestone for Microsoft, and in computer history in general. Windows 1.0 was officially declared obsolete and unsupported by Microsoft on 31 December 2001.
Microsoft first presented Windows to the public on 10 November 1983. Requiring two floppy disk drives and 192 KB of RAM, Microsoft described the software as a device driver for MS-DOS 2.0. By supporting cooperative multitasking in tiled windows when using well-behaved applications that only used DOS system calls, and permitting non-well-behaved applications to run in a full screen, Windows differs from both Visi On and Apple Computer's Lisa by immediately offering many applications. Unlike Visi On, Windows developers did not need to use Unix to develop IBM PC applications; Microsoft planned to encourage other companies, including competitors, to develop for Windows by not requiring a Microsoft user interface in their applications. Many manufacturers of MS-DOS computers such as Compaq, Zenith, and DEC promised support, as did software companies such as Ashton-Tate and Lotus. After previewing Windows, BYTE stated in December 1983 that it "seems to offer remarkable openness, reconfigurability, and transportability as well as modest hardware requirements and pricing … Barring a surprise product introduction from another company, Microsoft Windows will be the first large-scale test of the desktop metaphor in the hands of its intended users".
IBM was notably absent from Microsoft's announcement, and by late 1984 the press reported a "war of the windows" between Windows, IBM's TopView, and Digital Research's GEM. Microsoft meanwhile had promised in November 1983 to ship Windows by April 1984, but now denied that it had announced a release date, and predicted that Windows would ship by June 1985. Deemphasizing multitasking, the company stated that Windows' purpose, unlike that of TopView, was to "turn the computer into a graphics-rich environment" while using less memory. Windows 1.0 was officially released on 20 November 1985.
Version 1.02, released in May 1986, was an international release. Version 1.03, released in August 1986 included enhancements that made it consistent with the international release. It included drivers for European keyboards and additional screen and printer drivers. Version 1.04, released in April 1987, added support for the new IBM PS/2 computers, although no support for PS/2 mice or new VGA graphics modes was provided. At the same time, Microsoft and IBM announced the introduction of OS/2 and its graphical OS/2 Presentation Manager, which were supposed to ultimately replace both MS-DOS and Windows.
Windows 1.0 offers limited multitasking of existing MS-DOS programs and concentrates on creating an interaction paradigm (cf. message loop), an execution model and a stable API for native programs for the future. Due to Microsoft's extensive support for backward compatibility, it is not only possible to execute Windows 1.0 binary programs on current versions of Windows to a large extent, but also to recompile their source code into an equally functional "modern" application with just limited modifications.
Windows 1.0 is often regarded as a "front-end to the MS-DOS operating system", a description which has also been applied to subsequent versions of Windows. Windows 1.0 is an MS-DOS program. Windows 1.0 programs can call MS-DOS functions, and GUI programs are run from .exe files just like MS-DOS programs. However, Windows .exe files had their own "new executable" (NE) file format, which only Windows could process and which, for example, allowed demand-loading of code and data. Applications were supposed to handle memory only through Windows' own memory management system, which implemented a software-based virtual memory scheme allowing for applications larger than available RAM.
Because graphics support in MS-DOS is extremely limited, MS-DOS applications have to go to the bare hardware (or sometimes just to the BIOS) to get work done. Therefore, Windows 1.0 included original device drivers for video cards, a mouse, keyboards, printers and serial communications, and applications were supposed to only invoke APIs built upon these drivers. However, this extended to other APIs such as file system management functions. In this sense, Windows 1.0 was designed to be extended into a full-fledged operating system, rather than being just a graphics environment used by applications. Indeed, Windows 1.0 is a "DOS front-end" and cannot operate without a DOS environment (it uses, for example, the file-handling functions provided by DOS.) The level of replacement increases in subsequent versions.
The system requirements for Windows 1.01 constituted CGA/HGC/EGA (listed as "Monochrome or color monitor"), MS-DOS 2.0, 256 KB of memory or greater, and two double-sided disk drives or a hard drive. Beginning with version 1.03, support for Tandy and AT&T graphics modes were added.
Windows 1.0 runs a shell program known as the MS-DOS Executive, which is little more than a mouse-able output of the DIR command that does not support icons and is not Y2K-compliant. Other supplied programs are Calculator, Calendar, Clipboard Viewer, Clock, Notepad, Paint, Reversi, Cardfile, Terminal and Write.
Windows 1.0 executables, while having a similar .exe extension and initial file header similar to MS-DOS programs, do not contain the code that prints the "This program requires Microsoft Windows" message as newer Windows programs do. Instead, the executable file header has a newer C programming model specifying more memory, causing DOS to reject the executable with a "program too large to fit in memory" error message.
Windows 1.0 was released to mixed reviews. Most critics considered the platform to have future potential, but that Windows 1.0 had not fulfilled expectations. Many reviews criticized its demanding system requirements, especially noting the poor performance experienced when running multiple applications at once, and that Windows encouraged the use of a mouse for navigation, a relatively new concept at the time. The New York Times compared the performance of Windows on a system with 512 KB of RAM to "pouring molasses in the Arctic", and that its design was inflexible for keyboard users due to its dependency on a mouse-oriented interface. In conclusion, the Times felt that the poor performance, lack of dedicated software, uncertain compatibility with DOS programs, and the lack of tutorials for new users made DOS-based software such as Borland Sidekick (which could provide a similar assortment of accessories and multitasking functionality) more desirable for most PC users.
In retrospect, Windows 1.0 was regarded as a flop by contemporary technology publications, who, however, still acknowledged its overall importance to the history of the Windows line. Nathaniel Borenstein (who went on to develop the MIME standards) and his IT team at Carnegie Mellon University were also critical of Windows when it was first presented to them by a group of Microsoft representatives. Underestimating the future impact of the platform, he believed that in comparison to an in-house window manager, "these guys came in with this pathetic and naïve system. We just knew they were never going to accomplish anything." The Verge considered the poor reception towards the release of Windows 8 in 2012 as a parallel to Microsoft's struggles with early versions of Windows. In a similar fashion to Windows 1.0 running atop MS-DOS as a layer, Windows 8 offered a new type of interface and software geared towards an emerging form of human interface device on PCs, in this case, a touchscreen (software which, coincidentally, also could not run in overlapping windows, and only "snapped" to the side of the screen), running atop the legacy Windows shell used by previous versions.
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On November 10, in New York, Microsoft announced Windows… Microsoft says it will ship Windows to dealers in April (although a product like Windows is difficult to predict and may take longer), priced between $100 and $250,
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On November 20, 1985, two years after the initial announcement, Microsoft ships Windows 1.0.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Microsoft Windows 1.0.|
- Demo of Windows 1.01 running on VirtualBox, on The Non-Technical Technical Support
- Demo of Windows 1.04 running on an original IBM XT, on YouTube