As Support for XP ends we look back at the history of Windows

Today marks the end of support for Microsoft’s operating system Windows XP.

First released in 2001 Windows XP was one of Microsoft’s most popular operating systems. Reaching an estimated market share of over 80%  in 2007 (source:

As we say goodbye to Windows XP, it seems like an appropriate time to take a look back at the history of MS Windows for the home user market. We have a timeline showing the release dates of every major Windows release from Windows 1.0 to Windows 8.0.

Here are some of the highlights from the timeline:

The first version of Windows was Windows 1.0 released 1985; it was Microsoft’s fist graphical user interface (GUI).

Windows 3.0, released in 1990, was the first widely successful version of windows and a rival to other GUI operating systems such as Apple Macintosh and Commodore Amiga.

The next major update to the windows family was Windows 95, released in 1994, as it integrated the formerly separate MS-DOS and Windows Products. It also introduced many features which remained a core to the Windows experience, such as the start menu, task bar and the desktop interface. (At least until Windows 8, although things like the start menu will be returning in the next version of Windows)

Windows XP was released in 2001, it was the first home operating system to be built using Windows NT architecture instead of the previous MS-DOS based versions.

Following great success with Windows XP Microsoft released Vista in 2006 which received a lot of negative feedback, mainly due to performance issues. Microsoft addressed these issues with the release of Windows 7 just 3 years later in 2009.

Windows 8 was released in 2012, with probably the biggest change to the user interface since Windows 95. The hybrid operating system, which retained a desktop style interface, introduced the Metro tiled desktop as its primary user interface.

The drastic change in the interface was received with mainly negative feedback and subsequent updates (8.1 and the 8.1 update) have been focused on allowing users a more traditional experience.

Continuing the trend of undoing the damage done by Windows 8 it appears the next version of windows will bring back many of the traditional windows features (like the start menu) and allow the new modern apps to run in sizable windows instead of the full screen interface introduced in windows 8.

Explore the entire history of Windows operating for home computing on our interactive timeline

Sean McBirnie

Co-Founder at Histropedia

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