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Initial release1993; 30 years ago (1993)
Final release
Operating systemWindows 3.x and 95

TabWorks is a replacement shell for Windows 3.x and Windows 95 developed by XSoft, a division of Xerox PARC. It organizes files and applications in a tabbed 3-ring notebook user interface, making it easier for novice users to navigate Windows.[1][2][3]

The software was created to replace Program Manager on Windows 3.x and the shell on Windows 95.[2][3] The user interface concept was a collaboration between IDEO and XSoft.[1] The concept was originally developed at Xerox PARC by Stuart Card, Robert Kincaid, Sonny Lundin, Kim Medrano, Ed Stitt, Gary Schoolcraft, Hal Schoolcraft, Steven Calwas, Steve Farrell, Kerry Kobashi, Janine Walters, Pat Gibberson, Rick Soriano, and David Ching.[citation needed]

TabWorks was shipped in 1993 and distributed with PCs from 1993 to around 1997 by several companies, including Compaq[1][2] and NEC.[4] Over 9 million copies of the software were installed worldwide.[5]

Microsoft did not like that Compaq was creating systems that replaced the primary Windows user interface.

"Since the release of Windows 95, Microsoft has become aware of instances in which OEMs are modifying the product as a method of differentiating their hardware. This has caused considerable confusion with our end user customers. As a result, Microsoft is taking this opportunity to define the requirements and restrictions of the preinstallation process, so that all of our end users have a consistent experience with our products."[6]

Compaq stopped bundling TabWorks with its machines in 1996, claiming it was no longer necessary given the improvements to the shell in Windows 95.[7]

TabWorks was later acquired in 1996 by Citadel Computer systems,[5][8] which integrated it into their line of network security and desktop utility product lines. Citadel discontinued selling TabWorks in early 2001.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c Moll-Carrillo, Hector J.; Salomon, Gitta; Marsh, Matthew; Suri, Jane Fulton; Spreenberg, Peter (May 7–11, 1995). "Articulating a metaphor through user-centered design". Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems - CHI '95. Denver, Colorado: Association for Computing Machinery. pp. 566–572. doi:10.1145/223904.223981. ISBN 0201847051. S2CID 17151515.
  2. ^ a b c Lewis, Peter H. (October 19, 1993). "Putting Everything in a Notebook, Neatly Tabbed". Personal Computers. New York Times. p. C12. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Metz, Cade (March 14, 1995). "TabWorks". Why Wait? Get More From Windows Now!. PC Magazine. p. 139. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
  4. ^ Pontin, Jason (September 11, 1995). "XSoft revs up TabWorks document manager for Win95". InfoWorld. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Astor, Will (September 10, 1996). "Xerox XSoft to sell TabWorks". Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  6. ^ Hlavenka, Gordon S. (January 18, 1998). "Re: The Microsoft Witchhunt". Telecom Digest. 18 (12). Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  7. ^ Lettice, John (February 17, 1999). "Compaq exec downplays MS threat to pull its Windows licence". The Register. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
  8. ^ "Short: Citadel to acquire utility software from XSoft". CNET. September 6, 1996. Retrieved April 28, 2018.