Happy Birthday Windows 95!

Happy Birthday Windows 95!

On August 24, 1995, Microsoft released Windows 95,

?ytk0z

I think most people would agree it was a major step forward. It drastically changed how many people thought about Windows, Microsoft, and PC computers.

First of all, to dispel a common myth, 95 was NOT a pure 32-bit operating system like Windows NT or Unix. It was built on the Windows 3.1 code base and still technically ran on top of DOS. For example, you can start Windows 95's DOS, load a DOS TSR program, start Windows, and that TSR will continue happily running the background. You can also load MS-DOS device drivers and the devices will still be available from inside Windows 95. The core parts of video and printer drivers remained "16-bit".

The upshot to this was it had excellent backwards compatibility with existing hardware and software compared to NT.

In early "Chicago" builds all of the applications were still 16-bit. The ability to run 32-bit programs was grafted on top of it similar to how Windows 3.1 could run "32-bit" programs via the Win32s add on. The difference was, Microsoft expanded the available Win32 API to include almost everything that Windows NT supported.

This meant that developers could release new applications for both Windows 95 and NT using the exact same binaries and have almost the same functionality. Developers who had only targeted OS/2 or NT now saw common Windows desktops as a serious platform.

From the user stand point, Windows 95 sported a new user interface, and many new features.

?ntrmm

A good deal of honest to goodness research when in to designing Windows 95. I mean, actually WATCHING users, and UNDERSTANDING the problems they were having. Not just automatically recording some shit metrics about what users clicked on like they do today.

It addressed many basic user interface issues.

For example, in Windows 2 and 3, if a larger window covered a smaller window, then the user would often perceive the smaller window as "gone". The Windows 95 Task Bar corrected this by always keeping a "task" button visible for each application window.

It redesigned the way you launched programs.

?ytvjo
(glad I don't still have to use this!)

I can't even begin to describe what a pain the Windows 3.x Program Manager was. Do you remember which program group the control panel is in? Open-close-open-close-open-close-open- oh, there it is. It was quicker to click File, Run, and type "control"! Be sure to put the program group windows back exactly the way they were if that wasn't your computer! And that is all assuming you could find the program manager in the first place if it wasn't hiding behind another window.

Windows 95 added the "start" menu to the task bar. A single button that was almost always visible.

Now, if you had to guide someone through configuring their computer you could simply tell them "click Start-Settings-Control Panel, click such and such icon, check such and such box, and click OK"

All properly installed programs would have icons under the Start-Programs menu. And this menu would behave the same on all Windows 95 computers. Annoyingly, most vendors kept organizing their program icons the same as under Windows 3.x, with a dozen useless icons stuffed under one or more groups.

As if those weren't enough features for you, the new desktop shell finally added the ability to place your files and folders as icons on the desktop. A feature that the Xerox Star, Apple Lisa, and Apple Macintosh, already had for ages!!!! This feature was in such demand that there already a number of popular commercial Windows 3.1 alternate desktop shells.

Besides what you could immediately see, Microsoft added many new features.

They included an optional network stack and the ability to share files and folders. This was basically the same network software included in Windows for Workgroups 3.1x. It was very popular for home and small business LANs as you no longer had to have an expensive file server or the more expensive "Workgroups" windows version. It also integrated nicely with the new desktop shell as you could now browse your entire "Network Neighborhood" as a series of files, folders, and objects.

They also included a dial-up program that let you connect to remote networks or a network service provider.

Windows 95 now supported "Plug and Play" - a feature that sometimes did not live up to its name. But when it worked, you could insert a new expansion card and Windows 95 would automatically configure it to prevent conflicts and install the driver software.

There were many other enhancements such as long file names, improved GDI resource usage, a new "3d" buttonized appearance inspired by NeXTStep and OS/2 2.x, document templates, improved printing support, and bundled fax software.

Windows 95 could run on as little as a 386sx with 4 megabytes of RAM, although really a 486 with at least 12 megabytes of ram was desirable.

Like Windows 3.x, Microsoft still viewed Windows 95 as a "bridge" to their NT products, with a switchover roughly planned for the far off "NT 5". The DOS base line that started with Windows 1 ended with Windows ME. But many features introduced with 95 continued on in the NT based OSes: XP, Vista, and Windows 7.

Despite Microsoft's best efforts in to kill off the start menu and desktop introduced with Windows 95, it keeps coming back because for most people it all worked quite well.

?zjk0m

Comments

  • Thanks for sharing. I like how you made the post from Win95.
  • That's very interesting. I didn't know how much effort they put into this unitll now. I also didn't know that they actually planed to migrate the NT and 9x series together. To my surprise as I look back now, I notice that Windows 2000 was more stable than Windows ME which had DOS version 8...
  • I may have been too young to grow up with this system, but nevertheless, it's a fun system to experiment with. It may have its problems, but I believe W98 fixed most of these. Thanks for posting this!
  • This was the first OS I actually used.
  • I was 10 years ago went Windows 95 came out, and in 2000 my high school have windows 95 run on computers.
  • emmanual wrote:
    I was 10 years ago went Windows 95 came out, and in 2000 my high school have windows 95 run on computers.
    My State School had Windows 3x, 95, 98se, not at the same time. :wink: My high school had Windows 98se then xp.
  • I actually like the fact that you wrote this post inside Windows 95 :D I really feel that you appreciate Windows 95 so much!
  • Happy birthday :lol:
  • garirry wrote:
    I may have been too young to grow up with this system, but nevertheless, it's a fun system to experiment with. It may have its problems, but I believe W98 fixed most of these. Thanks for posting this!


    Yeah garirry, I was either too young to grew up with Windows 95,
    but I knew stories of my mom in 1997 working on such a PC for her work.When she
    wanted to go online, she got headaches of the irritating noise. And the fax machine
    was slow as hell! And yet I like retro-stuff. 8) Even the noise.
  • About that start menu, Microsoft was so smart enough to bring
    it back Windows 10. Jeez, I hate Windows 8(.1)! :evil: :evil: :evil:
  • Arguably the only worthwhile consumer Windows Release? (98 has the IE SHELL!)
  • Arguably the only worthwhile consumer Windows Release? (98 has the IE SHELL!)
    Windows 95C version included the Active Desktop Update on the disc. Released in 1997, I understand it was only available to OEMs.
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