Windows 1.0, where it all began

Microsoft Windows 1.0, seen here, was released in November 1985. Unfortunately for Microsoft, it failed to inspire -- especially when compared with the more user-friendly graphical user interface developed by Apple for the Macintosh.
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Photo by: Screenshot by Remember the dot / Caption by:

Windows 2.0

Windows 2.0 was released two years later, in December 1987. The best that can be said for this incarnation was that Windows remained a work in progress.
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Windows 3.0

The 1990 Windows 3.0 desktop workspace. Apparently, three's a charm! The adage about Microsoft needing three times to get it right was never more true. It offered better multitasking of older MS-DOS-based apps through the introduction of virtual memory. For the first time, Windows also garnered serious support from the software development community.
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Photo by: Microsoft/Wikipedia user Tyomitch / Caption by:

Windows 95

Behold, the Start button -- a move that would stick around for years to come following its appearance in Windows 95.
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Windows NT

Windows NT was the first 32-bit version of Windows.
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Windows 98

Released on June 25, 1998, Microsoft called Windows 98 the first version of Windows designed specifically for consumers. Windows 98 was also the last version based on MS-DOS.
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Windows 2000

Windows 2000 was a renamed version of Windows NT that added extra speed and stability. It was aimed at large businesses.
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Photo by: Microsoft/Wikipedia user Astroview120mm / Caption by:

Windows ME

Windows Millennium Edition, or ME, was seen as a stop-gap release between Windows 98 and XP.
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Photo by: Micorsoft/Wikipedia user Koman90 / Caption by:

Windows XP

Windows XP was one of the most popular versions of Windows, and ditched the plain gray color scheme for blues and greens.
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Windows Vista

Windows Vista brought numerous improvements but also required beefier hardware and came with some stringent security that soured consumers and businesses alike.
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Windows 7

Windows 7 brought a more refined look and a trimmed-down user interface.
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Windows 8

Microsoft made an aggressive move with Windows 8, which was released in October 2012. The new interface and tiled Start screen came with a steep learning curve that prompted a backlash from some users.
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Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 brings a handful of new features that make the OS work better on smaller tablets and let desktop users boot straight to the "desktop" mode.
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