Windows 1.0x

Windows 1.0 is the first major release of Microsoft Windows, a family of graphical operating systems for personal computers developed by Microsoft. It was first released to manufacturing in the United States on November 20, 1985, while the European version was released as Windows 1.02 in May 1986.

Windows 1.0x
Version of the Microsoft Windows operating system
Logo of Microsoft Windows 1.0x versions
Screenshot of Microsoft Windows 1.01
OS familyMicrosoft Windows
Source modelClosed source
Released to
November 20, 1985; 37 years ago (1985-11-20)
Latest release1.04 / April 1987; 35 years ago (1987-04)
LicenseCommercial software
Preceded byMS-DOS (1981)
Succeeded byWindows 2.0x (1987)
Support status
Unsupported as of December 31, 2001

Its development began after the Microsoft co-founder and spearhead of Windows 1.0, Bill Gates, saw a demonstration of a similar software suite, Visi On, at COMDEX in 1982. The operating environment was showcased to the public in November 1983, although it ended up being released two years later. Windows 1.0 runs on MS-DOS, as a 16-bit shell program known as MS-DOS Executive, and it provides an environment which can run graphical programs designed for Windows, as well as existing MS-DOS software. It introduced multitasking and the use of the mouse, and various built-in programs such as Calculator, Paint, and Notepad. The operating environment does not allow its windows to overlap, and instead, the windows are tiled. Windows 1.0 also contains four releases, which contain minor updates to the system.

The system received lukewarm reviews; critics raised concerns about not fulfilling expectations, its compatibility with very little software, and its performance issues, while it has also received positive responses to Microsoft's early presentations and support from a number of hardware- and software-makers. Its last release was 1.04, and it was succeeded by Windows 2.0, which was released in December 1987. Microsoft ended its support for Windows 1.0 on December 31, 2001, making it the longest-supported out of all versions of Windows.

Development historyEdit

A Microsoft Windows 1.0 brochure published in January 1986.

Microsoft showed its desire to develop a graphical user interface (GUI) as early as 1981.[1] The development of Windows began after Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and the lead developer of Windows, saw a demonstration at COMDEX 1982 of VisiCorp's Visi On, a GUI software suite for IBM PC compatible computers.[2] A year later, Microsoft learned that Apple's own GUI software—also bit-mapped, and based in part on research from Xerox PARC—was much more advanced; Microsoft decided they needed to differentiate their own offering.[1] In August 1983, Gates recruited Scott A. McGregor, one of the key developers behind PARC's original windowing system, to be the developer team lead for Windows 1.0.[3][4][5]

Microsoft first presented Windows to the public on November 10, 1983.[6] Initially requiring 192 KB of RAM and two floppy disk drives, 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 differed 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 programs for Windows by not requiring a Microsoft user interface in their applications.[7]

Manufacturers of MS-DOS computers such as Compaq, Zenith, and DEC promised to provide support, as did software companies such as Ashton-Tate and Lotus.[6] After previewing Windows, BYTE magazine 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."[7] From early in Windows's history, Gates viewed it as Microsoft's future. He told InfoWorld magazine in April 1984 that "our strategies and energies as a company are totally committed to Windows, in the same way that we're committed to operating-system kernels like MS-DOS and Xenix. We're also saying that only applications that take advantage of Windows will be competitive in the long run."[8] IBM was notably absent from Microsoft's announcement,[6] and the corporation rejected Windows in favor of creating its own product called TopView.[9] By late 1984, the press reported a "War of the Windows" between Windows, IBM's TopView, and Digital Research's Graphics Environment Manager (GEM).[10] Steve Ballmer replaced McGregor after he left the team in January 1985.[9]

Microsoft had promised in November 1983 to ship Windows by April 1984,[6] although, due to various design modifications, its release date was delayed.[11] During its development and before its windowing system was developed, it was briefly referred to by the codename "Interface Manager".[12][13] De-emphasizing 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.[10] After Microsoft persuaded IBM that the latter needed a GUI,[1] the two companies announced in April 1987 the introduction of OS/2 and its graphical OS/2 Presentation Manager, which were supposed to ultimately replace both MS-DOS and Windows.[14]

Release versionsEdit

The first retail release, Windows 1.01, was released on November 20, 1985, to the United States, at the cost of $99.[15][16] The following release, 1.02, was published in May 1986 mainly for the European market, and it had also introduced non-English versions of Windows 1.0.[11][17] Windows version 1.03, released in August 1986, included enhancements that made it consistent with the international release like drivers for non-U.S. keyboards and additional screen and printer drivers, and superseded both version 1.01 in the US and version 1.02 in Europe.[18][19] Windows 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.[20] However, on May 27, 1987, an OEM version was released by IBM, which added VGA support, PS/2 mouse support, MCGA support, and support for the 8514/A display driver.[21] IBM released this version on three 3.5-inch 720k floppies and offered it as part of their "Personal Publishing System" and "Collegiate Kit" bundles.[22] Microsoft ended its support for Windows 1.0 on December 31, 2001, making it the longest-supported one out of all versions of Windows.[23][24]


MS-DOS Executive file manager.

Windows 1.0 was built on the MS-DOS kernel.[25] It also runs on MS-DOS as a 16-bit shell program known as the MS-DOS Executive,[26] and it 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.[13][15][27][28] Compared to MS-DOS, the operating environment also utilizes mice, which allow users to perform click-and-drag operations, although the mouse was not required.[15][29] Contradictory to modern Windows operating systems, the mouse button had to be kept pressed to display the selected menu.[11]

In the MS-DOS Executive, .exe files were used as programs that would open an application window.[15] Windows 1.0 came in with a few programs, such as the Calculator, Paint, Notepad, Write, Terminal, Clock, and utilities such as Clipboard and Print Spooler.[16][30] Paint only supports monochrome graphics.[15] The operating environment also has the Cardfile manager, a Clipboard, and a Print Spooler program.[31] Initially, Puzzle and Chess were supposed to appear as playable video games, although Microsoft scrapped the idea; instead, it introduced Reversi as a commercially published video game, which is based on the eponymous strategy game. It was included in Windows 1.0 as a built-in application, and it relies on mouse control.[15][32] The operating environment also introduced the Control Panel, which was used to configure the features of Windows 1.0. The operating environment does not allow overlapping windows, and instead, the windows are tiled.[13][15] When a program gets minimized, its icon would appear on a horizontal line at the bottom of the screen, which resembles the modern-day Windows taskbar.[11]

Windows 1.0 implemented the use of code segment swapping.[33] It also consists of three dynamic-link libraries, which are located as files in the system under the names KERNEL.EXE, USER.EXE, and GDI.EXE.[34] It includes kernels, such as task handling, memory management, and input and output of files, while the two other dynamic-link libraries are the user interface and Graphics Device Interface.[35][36] The operating environment is capable of memory management; in the memory, it could move program code and data segments, in order to allow programs to share code and data that are located in dynamic-link libraries.[37]

Microsoft Windows 1.01 .OVL library

Version 1.02 introduced drivers for European keyboards, as well as screen and print drivers. The last Windows 1.0 release, 1.04, introduced support for IBM PS/2 computers.[38] 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.[39]

In March 2022, it was discovered that the operating environment also includes an easter egg that lists the developers who worked on the operating environment along with a message that says "Congrats!".[40][41]

System requirementsEdit

The official system requirements for Windows 1.0 include the following.

Minimum system requirements
Windows 1.01[42][43][44] Windows 1.03[42][44] Windows 1.04[21][42][44]
CPU 8088 processor
RAM 256 KB of memory 320 KB of memory
Storage Two double-sided floppy disk drives or a hard disk
Video CGA, HGC, or EGA adapters CGA, HGC, EGA, or VGA adapters
OS MS-DOS 2.0 MS-DOS 2.0 or higher
Mouse A Microsoft-compatible pointing device is recommended, but not required

Besides the minimum system requirements, Microsoft has also published a note in which it recommended additional memory when using multiple applications or DOS 3.3.[45]


Windows 1.0 was released to lukewarm and mixed reviews.[15][46] Critics considered the platform to have future potential but felt that Windows 1.0 had not fulfilled expectations and that it could not compete with Apple's GUI operating system.[29] It was also criticized for its slowness and compatibility with very little software.[47] 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.[2] 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.[45]

According to the Computerworld magazine, Windows 1.0 received 500,000 sales from its release in 1985 up to April 1987.[48][49] 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.[2][50][51] 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."[52] 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, running atop the legacy Windows shell used by previous versions.[2]

A mock version of Windows 1.0 was created by Microsoft as an app for Windows 10 as part of a tie-in with the Netflix show, Stranger Things, aligned with the release of the show's third season, which takes place during 1985.[53]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Alsop, Stewart II (January 18, 1988). "Microsoft Windows: Eclectism in UI" (PDF). P.C. Letter. 4 (2): 6–7. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 8, 2021. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Hollister, Sean (November 20, 2012). "Revisiting Windows 1.0: how Microsoft's first desktop gracefully failed". The Verge. Vox Media. Archived from the original on December 1, 2019. Retrieved January 21, 2017.
  3. ^ Wallace, James; Erickson, Jim (June 1, 1993). Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire. Harper Business. ISBN 978-0887306297.
  4. ^ Hey, Tony; Pápay, Gyuri (December 8, 2014). The Computing Universe: A Journey Through a Revolution. Cambridge University Press. p. 157. ISBN 9781316123225.
  5. ^ Caruso, Denise (May 7, 1984). "An Update on Windows: Developers to get package later this month". InfoWorld. Vol. 6, no. 19. p. 52. Archived from the original on September 18, 2020. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d Markoff, John (November 21, 1983). "Microsoft Does Windows". InfoWorld. Menlo Park, CA: Popular Computing. 5 (47): 32–36. ISSN 0199-6649. 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,
  7. ^ a b Lemmons, Phil (December 1983). "Microsoft Windows". BYTE. p. 48. Retrieved April 17, 2022.
  8. ^ Caruso, Denise (April 2, 1984). "Company Strategies Boomerang". InfoWorld. pp. 80–83. Archived from the original on March 16, 2015. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  9. ^ a b Trower, Tandy (March 9, 2010). "The Secret Origin of Windows". Technologizer. Archived from the original on September 25, 2019. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  10. ^ a b Rosch, Winn L. (December 25, 1984). "The Curtain Rises On The War of the Windows". PC Magazine. p. 33. Archived from the original on July 4, 2021. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  11. ^ a b c d Hofer, Marc (December 16, 2004). "Windows to the world: a brief history of this popular user interface". Media Informatics and Human-Computer Interaction Groups of the Department of Informatics of the University of Munich. Archived from the original on July 2, 2022. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  12. ^ Hanson, Rowland. "Windows is named Windows: But Why?". The HMC Company. Archived from the original on March 28, 2019. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  13. ^ a b c "A Brief History of Microsoft Windows". Informit. August 3, 2009. p. 2. Archived from the original on March 19, 2022. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  14. ^ "A history of Windows". Microsoft Windows Support. Microsoft. 2012. Archived from the original on November 17, 2012. On November 20, 1985, two years after the initial announcement, Microsoft ships Windows 1.0.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h Edwards, Benj (August 24, 2021). "35 Years of Microsoft Windows: Remembering Windows 1.0". How-To Geek. Archived from the original on February 5, 2022. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  16. ^ a b "Windows 1.0 to 10: The changing face of Microsoft's landmark OS". ZDNet. November 19, 2015. Archived from the original on April 16, 2022. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  17. ^ Vaughan-Nichols, Steven J. (June 29, 2021). "Should your business upgrade to Windows 11?". Computerworld. Archived from the original on April 8, 2022. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  18. ^ Petzold, Charles (May 26, 1987). "OS/2: Multitasking DOS Slated for '88". PC Magazine. Vol. 6. Ziff Davis, Inc. p. 38. ISSN 0888-8507. Archived from the original on April 20, 2022. Retrieved June 4, 2022.
  19. ^ Johnsen, Niels (November 25, 2019). "Microsoft Windows 1.0 frigives". go64 (in Danish). Archived from the original on January 25, 2021. Retrieved June 4, 2022. Frigivet i August 1986 og var den første version som indeholdt driver til andre keyboard en US modellerne [Realased in August 1986 and was the first version which included drivers for other keyboards than the US models]
  20. ^ "Windows 1". (in German). Archived from the original on February 14, 2018. Retrieved March 12, 2013.
  21. ^ a b "IBM PS2 OEM Microsoft Windows 1.04 - 720k". June 1987. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  22. ^ "IBM's SolutionPac personal publishing system a serious addition to desk-top publishing". Tech Monitor. April 7, 1987. Archived from the original on May 19, 2021. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  23. ^ "Obsolete Products". Support. Microsoft. July 25, 2011. Archived from the original on August 14, 2005.
  24. ^ Cowart, Robert (2005). Special edition using Microsoft Windows XP home. Brian Knittel (3 ed.). Indianapolis, Ind.: Que. p. 92. ISBN 0-7897-3279-3. OCLC 56647752. Archived from the original on June 4, 2022. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  25. ^ Shinder, Thomas W. (2003). MCSA/MCSE managing and maintaining a Windows server 2003 environment : exam 70-290 study guide and DVD training. Debra Shinder Littlejohn, Jeffrey A. Martin. [Rockland, Mass.]: Syngress. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-08-047925-5. OCLC 55664320. Archived from the original on June 4, 2022. Retrieved April 23, 2022.
  26. ^ Gibbs, Samuel (October 2, 2014). "From Windows 1 to Windows 10: 29 years of Windows evolution". The Guardian. Archived from the original on April 14, 2022. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  27. ^ "Definition of Windows 1.0". PC Magazine. Archived from the original on April 16, 2022. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  28. ^ O'Regan, Gerard (2016). Introduction to the history of computing: a computing history primer. Switzerland. p. 220. ISBN 978-3-319-33138-6. OCLC 953036113. Archived from the original on June 4, 2022. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  29. ^ a b Nonis, Susith (August 30, 2021). "Different versions of Windows". MonoVM. Archived from the original on June 4, 2022. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  30. ^ Bangia, Ramesh; Singh, Balvir (2007). Operating Systems and Software Diagnostics. Firewall Media. p. 17. ISBN 978-8131802250.
  31. ^ Das, Sudipto (2010). A complete guide to computer fundamentals (1 ed.). New Delhi, India. p. 68. ISBN 978-8131805503. OCLC 913009741.
  32. ^ "PC Games Introduced with each Windows Release". Wizard IT. September 17, 2021. Archived from the original on June 4, 2022. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  33. ^ Chen, Raymond (March 16, 2011). "What's up with the mysterious inc bp in function prologues of 16-bit code?". The Old New Thing. Archived from the original on October 26, 2020. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  34. ^ Petzold, Charles (November 7, 2005). "Windows 1.0 and the Applications of Tomorrow". Charles Petzold. Archived from the original on November 24, 2005. Retrieved April 24, 2022.
  35. ^ Petzold, Charles (1996). Programming Windows 95. Charles Petzold (4 ed.). Redmond, Wash.: Microsoft Press. p. 87. ISBN 1-55615-676-6. OCLC 33947413. Archived from the original on June 4, 2022. Retrieved April 23, 2022.
  36. ^ McFedries, Paul (2006). Microsoft Windows Vista Unveiled. Sams Publishing. p. 66. ISBN 0132715368.
  37. ^ Petzold, Charles (December 12, 1989). "Windows and PM: Friendly Companions or Deadly Competitors?". PC Magazine. Vol. 8. Ziff Davis, Inc. p. 330. ISSN 0888-8507. Retrieved April 23, 2022.
  38. ^ TIMS/ORSA Bulletin. University of Michigan: Institute of Management Sciences. 1988. p. 276. Archived from the original on July 2, 2022. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
  39. ^ "Getting ready for Windows 95". PC Magazine. Vol. 14, no. 9. Ziff Davis, Inc. May 16, 1995. p. 150. ISSN 0888-8507. Archived from the original on June 4, 2022. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  40. ^ Nield, David (March 19, 2022). "Almost 37 years after its launch, someone found an Easter egg in Windows 1.0". TechRadar. Archived from the original on March 21, 2022. Retrieved March 21, 2022.
  41. ^ Litchfield, Ted (March 24, 2022). "This Windows 1.0 easter egg managed to stay hidden for nearly 37 years". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on April 16, 2022. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  42. ^ a b c "Windows Version History". Support (4.0 ed.). Microsoft. September 23, 2011. Archived from the original on November 7, 2006.
  43. ^ Deffree, Suzanne (November 20, 2019). "Microsoft ships Windows 1.0, November 20, 1985". EDN. Archived from the original on October 6, 2021. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  44. ^ a b c "Fast, Faster, Fastest: Selecting and Displaying Fonts in Windows NT". PC Magazine. Vol. 13, no. 12. Ziff Davis, Inc. June 28, 1994. p. 267. ISSN 0888-8507. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  45. ^ a b Sandberg-Diment, Erik (February 25, 1986). "Personal Computers; Windows Are Open At Last". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 4, 2021. Retrieved November 11, 2013.
  46. ^ Langshaw, Mark (November 20, 2015). "Microsoft Windows turns 30 years old today". Digital Spy. Archived from the original on April 17, 2022. Retrieved April 17, 2022.
  47. ^ Loguidice, Bill (2014). "PC Windows Computers". Vintage game consoles: an inside look at Apple, Atari, Commodore, Nintendo, and the greatest gaming platforms of all time. Matt Barton. Burlington, MA: Focal Press. p. 227. ISBN 978-1-135-00651-8. OCLC 874011835. Archived from the original on June 4, 2022. Retrieved April 17, 2022.
  48. ^ McCracken, Harry (May 7, 2013). "A Brief History of Windows Sales Figures, 1985-Present". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Archived from the original on April 18, 2022. Retrieved April 17, 2022.
  49. ^ "Computerworld: Few doing Windows". Computerworld. Vol. 21, no. 15. April 13, 1987. p. 42. ISSN 0010-4841. Archived from the original on June 4, 2022. Retrieved April 17, 2022.
  50. ^ Cooper, Charles (November 20, 2013). "Windows 1.0: The flop that created an empire". CNET. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on February 12, 2014. Retrieved March 18, 2014.
  51. ^ Calore, Michael (December 10, 2008). "A History of Microsoft Windows". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Archived from the original on June 24, 2021. Retrieved April 17, 2022.
  52. ^ Brodkin, Jon (2010-11-08). "Windows 1.0 turning 25: First experiences recalled". NetworkWorld. Archived from the original on November 10, 2010. Retrieved November 11, 2013.
  53. ^ Warren, Tom (July 8, 2019). "Microsoft's new Windows 1.11 app is a Stranger Things trip back to 1985". The Verge. Archived from the original on July 8, 2019. Retrieved July 8, 2019.

External linksEdit