Microsoft Windows

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An operating system from Microsoft Corporation that controls PC compatibles, mobile phones, tablets and increasingly embedded computers. It is by far the most common operating system being used in the world and dominates the desktop and laptop markets with over 96% share of the market and is also the biggest player in server operating systems by number of systems installed, although in that sector their market share is nowhere near the number that they enjoy in the PC sector. Also the second most shipped operating system on tablets and the third most popular mobile phone OS in the world leaving the embedded market as the only platform where they are not a major player, but even there there are specific market segments like POS and ATM (hole in the wall machines) where the Windows OS has a clear market lead or even near monopoly.


Originally announced in 1983 as to be available later that year under the name Interface Manager, it was a panicky response by Microsoft co-founder William Gates to a private conversation he had with Digital Research owner Gary Kildall about the plans that DR had of introducing a graphical shell for DOS and CP/M under the name of GEM. The first edition however did not hit the market until 1985 and then under the name of Microsoft Windows. The original release of Windows was a marketing disaster that caused the company a lot of grief, it was kept alive in the OEM sector by European companies ACT Computers and Tulip but had almost no sales in the retail channel.

Porting issues

As MS Windows and OS/2 have similar origins there is still a bit of compatibility between the systems, naming conventions, folder structures and handling of codepages for instance are either similar or identical. And while the systems have diverged greatly in the last few years, some developments have been in parallel, such as both systems having base support for 16 bit Unicode unlike the 8 bit Unicode offered by most Unix like systems.

The main problem remains that much of the current base of programming tools comes for OS/2 from the UNIX world with only Open Watcom being a current major cross-platform tool that offers Windows and OS/2 compatibility.

See also: Migrating Windows Applications to OS/2: Making it Work (old, but useful tips)


Original code base
  • Nov 1985: Windows 1.01
  • 1986: Windows 1.02
  • 1986: Windows 1.03
  • 1987: Windows 1.04
  • 1987: Windows 2.03
  • 1988: Windows/286 2.1
  • 1989: Windows/286 2.11
386 support
  • 1987: Windows/386
  • 1988: Windows/386 2.1
  • 1989: Windows/386 2.11
  • May 1990: Windows 3.0
  • Oct 1991: Windows 3.0a
  • Apr 1992: Windows 3.1
  • 1993: Windows 3.11
  • 1993: Windows 3.2
Windows for Workgroups
  • Oct 1992: Windows for Workgroups 3.1
  • Dec 1993: Windows for Workgroups 3.11
32-bit versions