Happy birthday! It's been 35 years since the launch of Windows 1.0

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What you need to know

  • Today is the 35th anniversary of the launch of Window 1.0.
  • Windows 1.0 was the first graphical user interface for MS-DOS.

Windows 1.0 launched 35 years ago today. Two years after its announcement, Windows 1.0 started shipping on November 20, 1985. The world of Windows has changed quite a bit since then, but the operating system's launch was a major step in personal computing.

Windows 1.0 was the first graphical user interface for MS-DOS. In comparison to today's tech, Windows 1.0 doesn't look so user-friendly, but at the time, it was quite the accomplishment. Before Windows 1.0, using a PC was much more complex and was mostly left to experts.

When people talk about the start of Windows, they often refer to Windows 3.0 and 3.1. Combined, those versions of Windows sold ten million copies. These versions of Windows were also much more user-friendly. They were also the first versions of Windows that allowed hardware manufacturers to put Windows onto PCs. While Windows 3.0 and 3.1 were revolutionary, they wouldn't have come to be if it weren't for Windows 1.0.

At the time of publication, it's still early in Redmond, so we haven't seen anything about the birthday from Microsoft yet. We did find a birthday post from Microsoft (opens in new tab) in German from earlier this year. Steven Sinofsky, the former President of the Windows division at Microsoft, did share a tweet commemorating the occasion.

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Each version of Windows has a unique place in history, from the Start Menu of Windows 95 to the modern connectivity of Windows 10, but they all stem from Windows 1.0. For that, we wish Windows a happy birthday.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

  • I'm too young to remember even Win3.1, but the company really has come a long way. I suppose we could have avoided the monopolist/Ballmer era, but all is forgiven now that Windows is stable and Office doesn't freeze on me all the time. Also, MS is now among the most innovative companies out there - amazing turnaround. I even subscribe to MS 365 even though my institution offers it for free (long story - it's about control over my data). Could they even imagine offering such a service 35 years ago?
  • Might have been the first GUI from MS, or the most popular, but not the first. I worked on a project that added a GUI front end to a mainframe application, the initial release used DR GEM as the best environment available at the time, and this wasn't the only choice we had at the time.
  • I'm been a fan since Windows XP pro. I have to say. Windows has come a long way and I still love it. Nothing is perfect, but I don't regret the decision to stick around. Good job!