Windows is turning 35. Will he stay with us forever?

About the author

In late November 1985, Microsoft released (after years of promises) the first version of the Windows operating environment. Despite the intensive promotion and strong atmosphere of anticipation, this product did not achieve any particular market success due to many limitations. For several key years, Windows was merely an “emergency plan” for this reason. Another product, OS / 2, was to replace it. How is it that nobody remembers about OS / 2 today, and we still use Windows?

Writing extensive programs for PCs in the eighties was the so-called a moving target. The platform could do little, the memory was modest, so the software had to be small. More complex programs were available on hardware with better processors like the 286 and 386. But investing in developing software that could use them was a business hassle.

Vicious circle

Writing a software optimized for 286 required rewriting to the 386 processor, and most users had only the weaker 8088 anyway. So it would be best to write the program for 8088, but then it would have to be smaller accordingly … It’s a vicious circle. Microsoft decided to go by. common denominator. He created a product whose value was easy to challenge. But which ran on the cheapest hardware.

On a fragile foundation it was difficult to build. So a decision was made to create a successor together with IBM. It was supposed to be OS / 2. Due to dozens of organizational issues and a sudden revelation to the Windows development team, it has been found that it will be easier to sell a product that is less technically advanced and less stable, while delivering features, not promises. Market he didn’t want to wait.

There is nothing more permanent than a makeshift

In this way, genuine Windows has been improved to take advantage of some of the features of the new processors. Restricted Operating Environment has been reworked to an Intermediate Desktop that uses Protected Mode and Extended Memory. The (relatively) easy interface attracted newbies, and Word and Excel drove sales in the offices. Who would care if it was all one giant prosthesis?

Well, Microsoft. Windows developers were aware that their environment has limitations. That it will not be possible to add support for upcoming hardware to it and ensure stability. So they started writing the system from scratch. The NT project was to be “universal”: be able to behave like any system, through the layer of the so-called personality.

There is no sentiment in business

Initially, NT was supposed to offer personality for OS / 2 and Windows. In this way, OS / 2 would stop promising and start delivering, and Windows compatibility would be a bridge to migration. The problems with IBM did not go away during this time, however, and the NT architect did not like OS / 2. He also made fun of Windows, but preferred Windows for the two bad ones.

The result was a transition to a new base while retaining the old “personality”. The system looked like Windows and ran its programs, but technologically NT was Windows in name only. The fact is, the new OS was heavy and it was necessary to have the last one resurrection of the predecessor, in the form of Windows 95/98, but NT has ensured a smooth march into the future.

“Fake it till you make it”

Today we use NT in the form of Windows 10. This system does not know how to run programs for the first version of Windows, provides only partial compatibility with Windows 95 and provides completely new, modern programming environments. It doesn’t look like Windows 1.01 at all, yet it’s still Windows.

Two conclusions can be drawn here. Firstly, it doesn’t matter who is architecturally better and who makes money. The shaky Windows 3.1 provided Microsoft with the funds to create a decent successor. But when it wasn’t ready, crap was sold. Meanwhile, IBM promised that the next version of OS / 2 would be really great, you just have to wait.

Windows is not going anywhere

Second, the API counts. The system should look like Windows and run its programs. If it is a scratch wonder that runs applications in cloud simulators, or a Linux distribution with an added API, such a product will be called “Windows”. In this way, Windows will indeed stay with us forever, or at least as long as we use the applications for it. Then it will disappear.

It doesn’t look like it yet. It’s not Windows that makes money in Redmond today, but the average computer buyer (consumer or business), iPad, Android and Linux will be half measures. That is why Windows will develop slower, three Control Panels will accompany us for many years, with Windows it will easily live to at least fifty.


Leave a Comment