Windows 1.0: Wikis


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Windows 1.0
Part of the Microsoft Windows family
Windows 1.0 logo.svg
Screenshot of Windows 1.01
Release date 20 November 1985 (info)
Current version 1.04 (1987-04-08; 22 years ago) (info)
Source model Closed source
License MS-EULA
Support status
Unsupported as of 31 December 2001

Windows 1.0 is a 16-bit graphical operating environment that was released on 20 November 1985.[1] It was Microsoft's first attempt to implement a multi-tasking graphical user interface-based operating environment on the PC platform. Windows 1.0 was the first version of Windows launched. It was succeeded by Windows 2.0.



The box art of Windows 1.01, the first version Microsoft released to the public. The same box art was used in the subsequent minor releases.

The first release version of Windows 1.0 is actually numbered 1.01.[2]

Version 1.02, released in May 1986, was international and had editions in several European languages. Version 1.03, released in August 1986, was for the US- and international market, with enhancements making it consistent with the international release. It included drivers for European keyboards and additional screen and printer drivers. Version 1.04, released in April 1987, added support for the VGA graphics adapters of the new IBM PS/2 computers. At the same time, Microsoft and IBM announced the introduction of OS/2 and its graphical OS/2 Presentation Manager, which were supposed to ultimately replace both MS-DOS and Windows.

Windows 1.0 was superseded in November 1987, with the release of Windows 2.0. Windows 1.0 was supported by Microsoft for sixteen years, until 31 December 2001. Windows 1.0 was one of the longest supported operating systems of the Microsoft Windows family of operating systems.


Installation media

Windows 1.0 was available only on floppy disks. The user had to have DOS to install it. The same was true with all versions of Windows up to and including Windows 3.1x.


The history of Windows dates back to September 1981, when the project named "Interface Manager" was started. It was first presented to the public on 10 November 1983, renamed to "Microsoft Windows"; the two years of delay before release led to charges that it was "vaporware". The initially announced version of Windows had features so much resembling the Macintosh interface that Microsoft had to change many of them: overlapping windows, although supported by the GUI engine, weren't allowed for exactly this reason. The announcement of Windows' imminent arrival in 1985 probably did not help the sales of VisiCorp's VisiOn environment which debuted at the same time. However, even when finally released, Windows 1.0 aroused little interest.

Another GUI for the PC platform at the time was GEM. It used more aspects from the Macintosh GUI, for example the trash can concept (which Microsoft would later employ in future Windows releases) and more generally the desktop interaction. GEM was eventually used as the standard GUI for the Atari's ST range of 68k-based computers, which were sometimes referred to as Jackintoshes (the company being run by Jack Tramiel). GEM's resemblance to the Mac OS later caused legal trouble for the manufacturer, Digital Research, who was obliged to seriously cripple the desktop's appearance and functionality (applications were not affected).

GEM was not multitasking, so users had to close one program in order to run another one. Collections of related programs, like GEM Draw, had tricky File menu items like Close (to Edit) to facilitate switching.

An alternative multitasker released shortly before was DESQview, a successor of IBM's failed TopView from 1984. It did not have graphical capabilities initially, but is able to multitask DOS applications in windows as long as they are well-behaved or have a specially written "loader" to fix them on the fly.

Windows 1.0 market share grew very slowly, as there was no killer app (market-dominating software) that required the graphical shell. The killer apps at the time were generally only available on the Apple Macintosh platform (this statement was true even of Microsoft's Mac-OS-only Microsoft Office).

The Macintosh remained the platform of choice especially for high-end graphics and desktop publishing (DTP). Although Aldus PageMaker shipped in January 1987 with a Windows executable, it remained a curiosity due to poor support relative to the Mac version, and a steep $795 price tag.

PC-based DTP remained out of the reach of most Windows users until the release of $99 Serif PagePlus 1.0 in 1991. PagePlus won considerable praise from the prestigious Seybold Reports, not only for being the first sub-$100 DTP package capable of CMYK color separations but also because Serif backed up their customers with free 24-hour support. Nearly every desktop publishing magazine shootout review would include both programs side by side despite the price differences. In the real world however, the lack of a Mac version meant few prepress service bureaus would accept PC data or PC PostScript files. Corel Draw 1.0, Micrografx Picture Publisher, Paint Shop Pro, and Cool Edit also provided a Windows-only focus and provided capabilities previously only found in expensive applications.

Other shell programs for MS-DOS include Norton Commander, PC Tools, XTree. DOS Shell, and DOS Menu (in MS-DOS version 4.0). These applications attempted to be organizational and menu-driven tools, and did not try at all to be a 'desktop' shell.


Windows 1.0 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. 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.[3]

Windows 1.0 is often regarded as a "front-end to the MS-DOS operating system", a description which has also been applied to subsequent versions of Windows. Windows 1.0 is an MS-DOS program. Windows 1.0 programs can call MS-DOS functions, and GUI programs are run from .exe files just like MS-DOS programs. However, Windows .exe files had their own "new executable" (NE) file format, which only Windows could process and which, for example, allowed demand-loading of code and data. Applications were supposed to handle memory only through Windows' own memory management system, which implemented a software-based virtual memory scheme allowing for applications larger than available RAM.

Because graphics support in MS-DOS is extremely limited, MS-DOS applications have to go to the bare hardware (or sometimes just to the BIOS) to get work done. Therefore, Windows 1.0 included original device drivers for video cards, a mouse, keyboards, printers and serial communications, and applications were supposed to only invoke APIs built upon these drivers. However, this extended to other APIs such as file system management functions. In this sense, Windows 1.0 was designed to be extended into a full-fledged operating system, rather than being just a graphics environment used by applications. Indeed, Windows 1.0 is a "DOS front-end" and cannot operate without a DOS environment (it uses, for example, the file-handling functions provided by DOS.) The level of replacement increases in subsequent versions.

The system requirements for Windows 1.01 constituted CGA/Hercules/EGA (listed as "Monochrome or color monitor"), MS-DOS 2.0, 256K of memory or greater, and 2 double-sided disk drives or a hard drive.[4]

Windows 1.0 runs a shell program known as MS-DOS Executive. Other supplied programs are Calculator, Calendar, Cardfile, Clipboard viewer, Clock, Control Panel, Notepad, Paint, Reversi, Terminal, and Write.

Windows 1.0 does not allow overlapping windows. Instead all windows are tiled. Only dialog boxes can appear over other windows.

Windows 1.0 executables, while having the same .exe extension and initial file header as MS-DOS programs, do not contain the so-called MS-DOS stub which prints the "This program requires Microsoft Windows" message and exits when the program is run outside of Windows. Instead, the file header was formatted in such a way as to make DOS reject the executable with a "program too large to fit in memory" error message.

From the beginning, Windows was intended to multitask programs (although this originally only applied to native applications and for many versions the multitasking was co-operative, rather than preemptive).

Originally Windows was designed to have the pull-up menus at the bottom of windows, as it was common with the DOS programs of the time; however, this was changed before the first release.

See also


  1. ^ Chaitanya Sareen (20 November 2008). "The Windows 7 Taskbar". Microsoft. Retrieved 4 September 2009.  
  2. ^ Ben Armstrong (16 October 2004). "The other reason why I love Virtual PC". Microsoft. Retrieved 4 September 2009.  
  3. ^ Nathan Lineback (October 2007). "Misc. Windows Screen Shots". Graphical User Interface Gallery. Retrieved 4 September 2009.  
  4. ^

External links

Simple English

Windows 1.0
(Part of the Microsoft Windows family)
Release information
Release date: November 1985 info
Current version: 1.0 (November 20, 1985) info
Support status
Not Supported

Windows 1.0 was one of the first operating environments that used pictures instead of text. It was made by Microsoft. It was released in 1985 for microcomputers that were PC compatible.


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