|Part of the Microsoft Windows family|
|Screenshot of Windows 95|
|Release date||24 August 1995 (info)|
|Current version||4.00 OEM Service Release 2.5 (OSR2.5) (Build 950)
(November 26, 1997 ) (info)
|Source model||Closed source|
|Unsupported as of 31 December 2001|
Windows 95 is a consumer-oriented graphical user interface-based operating system. It was released on August 24, 1995 by Microsoft, and was a significant progression from the company's previous Windows products. During development it was referred to as Windows 4.0 or by the internal codename Chicago.
Windows 95 was intended to integrate Microsoft's formerly separate MS-DOS and Windows products. It features significant improvements over its predecessor, Windows 3.1, most visibly in the graphical user interface (GUI). There were also major changes made at lower levels of the operating system.
In the marketplace, Windows 95 was a major success, and within a year or two of its release had become the most successful operating system ever produced. It also had the effect of driving other major players in the DOS-compatible operating system out of business, something which would later be used in court against Microsoft. Some three years after introduction, Windows 95 was succeeded by Windows 98.
The initial design and planning of Windows 95 can be traced back to around May 1992, just after the release of Windows 3.1. At this time Windows for Workgroups 3.1 and Windows NT 3.1 were still in development and Microsoft's plan for the future was focused on Cairo. Cairo would be Microsoft's next-generation operating system based on Windows NT and featuring a new user interface and an object-based file system, but it was not planned to be shipped before 1994 (Cairo would eventually partially ship in July 1996 in the form Windows NT 4.0, without the object-base file system however, which would later evolve into WinFS).
Simultaneously with Windows 3.1's release, IBM started shipping OS/2 2.0. Microsoft realized they were in need of an updated version of Windows that could support 32-bit applications and preemptive multitasking, but could still run on low-end hardware (Windows NT did not.) So the development of Windows "Chicago" was started and, as it was planned for a late 1993 release, became known as Windows 93. Initially the decision was made not to include a new user interface, as this was planned for Cairo, and only focus on making installation, configuration, and networking easier. Windows 93 would ship together with MS-DOS 7.0 offering a more integrated experience to the user and making it pointless for other companies to create DOS clones. MS-DOS 7.0 was at that time under development under the code name "Jaguar" and could optionally run on top of a Windows 3.1-based 32-bit protected mode kernel called "Cougar" in order to better compete with DR-DOS.
The first version of Chicago's feature specification was finished on 30 September 1992. Cougar was to become Chicago's kernel.
Prior to the official release, the American public was given a chance to preview Windows 95 in the Windows 95 Preview Program. For US$19.95, users were sent a set of 3½" floppy diskettes that would install Windows 95 either as an upgrade to Windows 3.1x or as a fresh install on a clean computer. Users who bought into the program were also given a free preview of The Microsoft Network (MSN), the online service that Microsoft launched with Windows 95. The preview versions expired in November 1995, after which the user would have to purchase their own copy of the final version of Windows 95.
Several Windows 95 betas were released before the final launch:
|Build 58s||Build 58s introduced a Start menu prototype. It divided the functions of the Windows 95 Start menu up into three buttons. Future Chicago builds combined these three into the Start button still recognized today.
Build 58s included a new File Manager, Chicago Explorer, which remained relatively unchanged in the initial version of Windows 95 and in Windows NT 4.0. Build 58s still included Program Manager as found in Windows 3.1, although this application was supplemented by the new desktop and taskbar/Start menu designs.
|Build 73g||Build 73g is the next leaked build of Windows Chicago with a date stamp of November 1993. It is more of the same thing as Build 58 with a few UI tweaks and a network logon box at startup.|
|Build 81||Build 81 follows build 73g. There is not much information about this build as it seems unable to install on Microsoft Virtual PC. This may have been a minor build. The date stamp says it is from January 1994.|
|Build 122||Build 122 was the first version of Chicago to call itself a Beta edition. Again, there is not much info on this version, but there is a date stamp of June 9, 1994.|
|Build 189||Build 189 is the first version to call itself Windows 95. The date stamp is marked September 21, 1994. The UI has been completely re-done to where it looks and feels like the final version of Windows 95, though there still are numerous things left over from Chicago. The start menu also slightly differs from newer builds of Windows 95, as there is actually color along the side.|
|Build 224:||Build 224 is Windows 95 beta 2. Only a date stamp of November 8, 1994 can be found as information on this build.|
|Build 347||Build 347 is the Windows 95 "Final Beta Release". The build number refers to a German release, but seems to install in English. This version has a build stamp of March 17, 1995.|
|Build 468||Build 468 is the May Test Release version of Windows 95, with a date stamp of May 11, 1995. This version is so close to the final Windows 95, it can be mistaken for it.|
|Build 480||Build 480 is the May Test Release. It was released in two languages: English and German. According to the build number, this is Release Candidate 1.|
|Build 490 (RC1)||Build is dated June 8, 1995. The build number seems to indicate that this is Release Candidate 1.|
Windows 95 was released with great fanfare, including a commercial featuring the Rolling Stones' 1981 single "Start Me Up" (a reference to the Start button). It was widely reported that Microsoft paid the Rolling Stones between US$8 and US$14 million for the use of the song in the 95 advertising campaign. According to sources at Microsoft, however, this was just a rumor spread by the Stones to increase their market value, and Microsoft actually paid a fraction of that amount. A 30-minute promotional video, labelled a "cyber sitcom", featuring Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry, was also released to showcase the features of Windows 95. Microsoft's US$300 million advertising campaign featured stories of people waiting in line outside stores to get a copy.
In the UK, the largest computer chain PC World received a large number of oversized Windows 95 boxes, posters and point of sale material, and many branches opened at midnight to sell the first copies of the product, although these customers were far fewer in number than publicity had suggested.
In the United States, the Empire State Building in New York City was lit to match the colors of the Windows logo. In Canada, a 100-meter (328-foot) banner was hung from the top of the CN Tower in Toronto. Copies of The Times were available for free in the United Kingdom where Microsoft paid for 1.5 million issues (twice the daily circulation at the time).
Windows 95 was designed to be maximally compatible with existing MS-DOS and 16-bit Windows applications and device drivers, while under this constraint offering a more stable and better performing system. Architecturally, Windows 95 can be considered an evolution of Windows for Workgroups' 386 enhanced mode. The lowest level of the operating system is formed by a large number of virtual device drivers (VxDs) running in 32-bit protected mode and one or more virtual DOS machines running in virtual 8086 mode. The virtual device drivers can be responsible for handling physical devices (such as video and network cards), emulating virtual devices used by the virtual machines, or providing various system services. The three most important virtual device drivers are:
VMM32.VXD) can be considered the kernel of Windows 95 and is responsible for tasks such as memory management, event and interrupt handling, loading and initialization of all other virtual device drivers, the creation of new virtual machines, and scheduling of threads.
The Win32 API is implemented by three modules, each consisting of a 16-bit and a 32-bit component:
VWIN32.VXD) provides high level access to functions such as memory and process management, and access to the file system.
USER32.DLL) is responsible for managing and drawing the various user interface components, such as windows, menus, and buttons.
GDI32.DLL) is responsible for drawing graphics in a device-independent way.
MS-DOS was an underlying component of Windows 95. It was possible to prevent loading the graphical user interface and boot the system into a real-mode MS-DOS environment. This sparked an intense debate over the question of to what extent Windows 95 was a "real" operating system, as opposed to merely being a graphical shell running on top of MS-DOS.
The GUI, when started, took over all functionality from MS-DOS, which itself was demoted to a compatibility layer for 16-bit device drivers. This contrasted with earlier versions of Windows which relied on MS-DOS to perform file and disk access. (Windows for Workgroups 3.11 could also largely bypass MS-DOS when 32-bit file access and 32-bit disk access was enabled.) Keeping MS-DOS running allowed Windows 95 to use DOS device drivers if suitable Windows drivers were unavailable. MS-DOS also still handled some requests for allocating memory and parsing file names, issued by legacy Win16 applications, as Microsoft saw little benefit in replacing these helper functions with newly written 32-bit code.
A negative consequence of keeping MS-DOS around was that Windows had to do some work to keep DOS's internal data structures synchronized with those of Windows itself. When starting an application, even a native 32-bit Windows application, MS-DOS would momentarily execute to create a data structure (the program segment prefix) and it was even theoretically possible for MS-DOS to run out of conventional memory while doing so, preventing the application from launching.
The basic elements of the interface introduced in Windows 95—including the taskbar, Start button and menu, and the Windows Explorer file manager—remain fundamentally unchanged in later versions of Windows, such as Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7, nearly 15 years later. The word "Start" was dropped from the button in Windows Vista in 2006, with the company preferring to label the button with the Windows logo ("Start" is still present as a tooltip and in the classic GUI mode).
When released for Windows 95, Internet Explorer 4.0 came with an optional shell update known as Windows Desktop Update that changed the user interface significantly. That update gave Windows 95 (and Windows NT 4.0) features that would become the graphical user interface of Windows 98.
Windows 95 included support for 255-character mixed-case long filenames and preemptively multitasked pseudo-protected-mode 32-bit applications. Whereas earlier versions of Windows are optional "DOS extending shells" requiring an MS-DOS or MS-DOS compatible operating system (usually sold separately), Windows 95 incorporated MS-DOS into a consolidated operating system, which was a significant marketing change. The release of Windows 95 also marked wider acceptance of Plug and Play standards on the IBM PC platform.
32-bit File Access is necessary for the long file names feature introduced with Windows 95 through the use of the VFAT file system. It is available to both Windows programs and MS-DOS programs started from Windows (they have to be adapted slightly, since accessing long file names requires using larger pathname buffers and hence different system calls). Competing DOS-compatible operating systems released before Windows 95 cannot see these names. Using older versions of DOS utilities to manipulate files means that the long names are not visible and are lost if files are moved or renamed, as well as by the copy (but not the original), if the file is copied. During a Windows 95 automatic upgrade of an older Windows 3.1 system, DOS and third-party disk utilities which can destroy long file names are identified and made unavailable (Microsoft Anti-Virus for Windows indicated that the upgrade program was itself a computer virus). When Windows 95 is started in DOS mode, e.g. for running DOS programs, low-level access to disks is locked out. In case the need arises to depend on disk utilities that do not recognize long file names, such as MS-DOS 6.x's defrag utility, a program called LFNBACK for backup and restoration of long file names is provided on the CD-ROM. The program is in the \ADMIN\APPTOOLS\LFNBACK directory of the Windows 95 CD-ROM.
The introduction of 32-bit File Access in Windows for Workgroups 3.11 meant that 16-bit real mode MS-DOS is not used for managing the files while Windows is running, and the earlier introduction of the 32-bit Disk Access means that the PC BIOS is not used for managing hard disks. This essentially reduces MS-DOS to the role of a boot loader for the protected-mode Windows kernel. DOS can be used for running old-style drivers for compatibility, but Microsoft discourages using them, as this prevents proper multitasking and impairs system stability. Control Panel allows a user to see what MS-DOS components are used by the system; optimal performance is achieved when they are all bypassed. The Windows kernel uses MS-DOS style real-mode drivers in Safe Mode, which exists to allow a user to fix problems relating to loading native, protected-mode drivers.
Windows 95 originally shipped without Internet Explorer, and the default network installation did not install TCP/IP, the network protocol used on the Internet. At the release date of Windows 95, Internet Explorer 1.0 was available, but only in the Plus! add-on pack for Windows 95, which was a separate product. The Plus! Pack did not reach as many retail consumers as the operating system itself (it was mainly advertised for its add-ons such as themes and better disk compression) but was usually included in pre-installed (OEM) sales, and at the time of Windows 95 release, the web was being browsed mainly with a variety of early web browsers such as Netscape (promoted by products such as Internet in a Box).
Windows 95 OEM Service Release 1 was the first release of Windows to include Internet Explorer (Codenamed O'Hare) with the OS, including version 2.0. While there was no uninstaller, it could be deleted easily if the user so desired. The included version switched to Internet Explorer 3 when it came out. The installation of Internet Explorer 4 on Windows 95 (or the OSR2.5 version preinstalled on a computer) gave Windows 95 active desktop and browser integration into Windows Explorer, known as the Windows Desktop Update. The CD version of the last release of Windows 95, OEM Service Release 2.5 (Version 4.00.950C), includes Internet Explorer 4, and installs it after Windows 95's initial setup and first boot is complete.
Only the 4.x series of the browser contained the Windows Desktop Update features, so anyone wanting the new shell had to install IE4 with the desktop update before installing a newer version of Internet Explorer. The last version of Internet Explorer supported on Windows 95 is Internet Explorer 5.5 which was released in 2000. Windows 95 shipped with Microsoft's own dial-up online service called The Microsoft Network.
|Release||Code name||Release date||Version||Software components||Hardware support|
|System properties||System files||Timestamp||MS-DOS||Internet Explorer||DriveSpace||DirectX||FAT32||Infrared||UDMA||IRQ steering||USB||AGP||MMX||P6|
|Windows 95 (retail and OEM)||Chicago||24 August 1995||4.00.950||1995-07-11 09:50:00||7.0||N/A||2||N/A||No||No||No||No||No||No||Bugs||Bugs|
|Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95||Frosting||N/A||4.40.310||1995-07-14 04:40:00||1.0||3|
|Service Pack 1||N/A||14 February 1996||4.00.950a||4.00.951||1995-12-31 09:50:00||2.0||2||Yes|
|OEM Service Release 1||1996-02-02 09:51:00|
|OEM Service Release 2||Detroit||24 August 1996||4.00.950 B||4.00.1111||1996-08-24 11:11:11||7.1||3.0||3||2.0a||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|USB Supplement to OSR2||N/A||27 August 1997||4.03.1212
|OEM Service Release 2.1|
|OEM Service Release 2.5||26 November 1997||4.00.950 C||4.03.1216||1997-11-26 12:16:00||4.00||5.0||Yes|
While Windows 95 was originally sold as a shrink-wrapped product, later editions were provided only to computer OEMs for installation on new PCs. The term OEM Service Release is frequently abbreviated OSR, as in OSR1 or OSR2.1. Thus, for example, OSR1 was the OEM release that was identical to Windows 95 retail with Service Pack 1 applied (with the addition of Internet Explorer). In order to maintain compatibility with existing programs, Windows 95 has an internal version number of "4.00.950", regardless of the internal build number, thus reflecting Windows 95's alternative identity as "Windows 4.0" (similarly, the original edition of Windows 98 has an internal version number of Windows 4.10.1998.) Later versions are sometimes referred to by the trailing letter appended to this version string, such as Windows 95 B for OSR2 and OSR2.1.
Windows 95 partially supports USB as of OSR 2.1, though it is disabled by default and is limited by driver availability.
Official system requirements were an Intel 80386 DX CPU of any speed, 4 MB of system RAM, and 120 MB of hard drive space. These minimal claims were made in order to maximize the available market of Windows 3.1 converts. This configuration was distinctly suboptimal for any productive use on anything but single tasking dedicated workstations due to the heavy reliance on virtual memory. Also, in some cases, if any networking or similar components were installed the system would refuse to boot with 4 megabytes of RAM. It was possible to run Windows 95 on a 386 SX but this led to even less acceptable performance due to its 16-bit external data bus. To achieve optimal performance, Microsoft recommends an Intel 80486 or compatible microprocessor with at least 8 MB of RAM.
Windows 95 was superseded by Windows 98 and could still be directly upgraded by both Windows 2000 and Windows Me. On 31 December 2001, Microsoft ended its support for Windows 95, making it an "obsolete" product according to the Microsoft Lifecycle Policy. Even though support for Windows 95 has ended, the software still remains in use on some home and school computers because of budget issues, a lack of knowledge or lack of desire to upgrade to newer editions of Windows. In addition, some video game enthusiasts choose to use Windows 95 for their legacy system to play old DOS games, although some other versions of Windows such as Windows 98 can also be used for this purpose.
Windows 95 has been released on both floppy disks and on CD-ROM, as some computer systems at the time did not include a CD-ROM drive. The retail floppy disk version of Windows 95 came on 13 DMF formatted floppy disks, while OSR 2.1 doubled the floppy count to 26. Both versions exclude additional software that CD-ROM might have featured. Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95 was also available on floppy disks.
|Total Games||unknown (790 present)|
|← MS-DOS||(none) →|
Windows is the collective name for Microsoft's immensely popular line of operating systems. As well as being widely used by businesses, Windows is the primary operating system PC games are developed for. It is the successor to MS-DOS, which previously held a similar market share in both the home and business markets.
New versions of Windows generally maintain a high degree of compatibility with software developed for past versions of Windows (and limited compatibility with MS-DOS), and new software releases will often work on older versions of Windows. This changed with Windows Vista; some releases (such as Halo 2) are specifically designed to only work with Windows Vista, and so cannot be used on previous versions of Windows.
The following 200 pages are in this category, out of 790 total.
|(Part of the Microsoft Windows family)|
|Web site: [http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;148761 http://support.microsoft.com|
|Source model:||Closed source|
|Kernel type:||Hybrid kernel]|
Windows 95 added many new features to the last Windows operating system, which was Windows 3.x. Windows 95 was the first Windows with the "Start" button. Since then it has been used in all Windows operating systems.
Windows 95 was Microsoft's first operating system to support long file names. Before that, file names could only be eight characters (letters, numbers, or symbols) long, plus the file extension.
Although Windows 95 is thought of as a full operating system, it works over MS-DOS. Windows 95 is like a visual version of DOS. This means that Windows 95 can run both MS-DOS programs and Windows ones, but programs made just for Windows 95 will not work in DOS.