1987–1990 Windows 2.0–2.11 More windows, more speed
1990–1994 Windows 3.0–Windows NT—Getting the graphics
Windows now has significantly better performance, advanced graphics with 16 colors, and improved icons. A new wave of 386 PCs helps drive the popularity of Windows 3.0. With full support for the Intel 386 processor, programs run noticeably faster. Program Manager, File Manager, and Print Manager arrive in Windows 3.0.
Windows 95 The PC comes of age
in Internet support, dial-up networking, and new Plug and Play capabilities that make it easy to install hardware and software. The 32-bit operating system also offers enhanced multimedia capabilities, more powerful features for mobile computing, and integrated networking.
1998–2000 Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows Me | Windows evolves for work
Released on June 25, 1998, Windows 98 is the first version of Windows designed specifically for consumers. PCs are common at work and home, and Internet cafes where you can get online are popping up. Windows 98 is described as an operating system that “Works Better, Plays Better.
With Windows 98, you can find information more easily on your PC as well as the Internet. Other improvements include the ability to open and close programs more quickly, and support for reading DVD discs and universal serial bus (USB) devices. Another first appearance is the Quick Launch bar, which lets you run programs without having to browse the Start menu or look for them on the desktop.
2001–2005Windows XP—Stable, usable, and fast
On October 25, 2001, Windows XP is released with a redesigned look and feel that's centered on usability and a unified Help and Support services center. It’s available in 25 languages. From the mid-1970s until the release of Windows XP, about 1 billion PCs have been shipped worldwide.
For Microsoft, Windows XP will become one of its best-selling products in the coming years. It’s both fast and stable. Navigating the Start menu, taskbar, and Control Panel are more intuitive. Awareness of computer viruses and hackers increases, but fears are to a certain extent calmed by the online delivery of security updates. Consumers begin to understand warnings about suspicious attachments and viruses. There’s more emphasis on Help and Support.
Vista—Smart on security
Windows 7 | Introduces Windows Touch
Windows 7 is released for the wireless world of the late 2000s. Laptops are outselling desktops, and it's become common to connect to public wireless hotspots in coffee shops and private networks in the home.
Windows 7 includes new ways to work with windows—like Snap, Peek, and Shake—that improves functionality and makes the interface more fun to use. It also marks the debut of Windows Touch, which lets touchscreen users browse the web, flip through photos, and open files and folders.
2012Windows 8 | Features apps and tiles
is a reimagined operating system, from the chipset to the user experience, and introduces a totally new interface that works smoothly for both touch and mouse and keyboard. It functions as both a tablet for entertainment and a full-featured PC for getting things done. also includes enhancements of the familiar Windows desktop, with a new taskbar and streamlined file management.
features a Start screen with tiles that connect to people, files, apps, and websites. Apps are front and center, with access to a new place to get apps—the Windows Store—built right in to the Start screen.
Along with , Microsoft also launches , which runs on some tablets and PCs. is designed for sleek devices and long battery life, and exclusively runs apps from the Windows Store. It also comes with a built-in version of Office that's optimized for touchscreens.
2013Windows 8.1 | Expands the Windows 8
advances the vision of providing a powerful collection of apps and cloud connectivity on great devices; it’s everything people loved about , plus some enhancements.
combines Microsoft's vision of innovation with customer feedback on to provide many improvements and new features: more Start screen personalization options that sync across all devices, the option to boot directly to the desktop, Bing Smart Search so you can find what you're looking for across the PC or the web, a Start button to navigate between the desktop and Start Screen, and more flexible options for viewing multiple applications at once on one or all screens. There are also several new built-in apps such as Bing Food & Drink, Bing Health & Fitness, and great utility apps like Reading List, Calculator, and Alarms. Many of the great apps shipped in are back and even better, making your experience more enjoyable right from the start.
In addition to these user experience changes, includes new and improved features like Workplace Join and Work Folders that enable Windows devices to connect more easily to corporate resources.
Unlike previous versions of Windows, Microsoft has branded Windows 10 as a "service" that receives ongoing "feature updates".
Windows 10 introduces what Microsoft described as "universal apps"; expanding on Metro-style apps, these apps can be designed to run across multiple Microsoft product families with nearly identical code—including PCs, tablets, smartphones, embedded systems, Xbox One, Surface Hub and Mixed Reality. The Windows user interface was revised to handle transitions between a mouse-oriented interface and a touchscreen-optimized interface based on available input devices—particularly on 2-in-1 PCs; both interfaces include an updated Start menu which incorporates elements of Windows 7's traditional Start menu with the tiles of Windows 8. The first release of Windows 10 also introduces a virtual desktop system, a window and desktop management feature called Task View, the Microsoft Edge web browser, support for fingerprint and face recognition login, new security features for enterprise environments, and DirectX 12 and WDDM 2.0 to improve the operating system's graphics capabilities for games.