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Opening up 30 years of Windows (images)

Windows first arrived on the scene when Ronald Reagan was in the White House. Here's a look at how the interface has changed since then.

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James Martin
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1 of 16 Screenshot by Remember the dot
It's been almost 30 years since Bill Gates and Microsoft launched the first version of Windows 1.0, which provided a graphical user interface for computing. It's since been used by hundreds of millions of people around the world. Microsoft opened the latest chapter in the story of this venerable operating system this week when it released a test version of Windows 8 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
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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2 of 16 Screenshot by Microsoft
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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3 of 16 Wikipedia
Windows 2.1x, Windows/286 2.10, and Windows/386 2.10, were released in 1988 and designed to take advantage of Intel 80286 and Intel 80386 processors.
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4 of 16 Screenshot by Tyomitch
The 1990 Windows 3.0 desktop workspace--and apparently three's a charm! The old 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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5 of 16 Microsoft
Here's Bill Gates at the launch of the August 1995 debut of Windows 95. In the history of Windows, this was a big deal. Among other features, Win 95 offered a multitasked 32-bit architecture and ushered in the desktop metaphor that users would see through several generations of Windows updates. As Microsoft's current Windows chief Steven Sinofsky would later reminisce, "the last time we made a generational change was Windows 95."
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6 of 16 Screenshot by Microsoft
The workspace in Windows 1995.
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7 of 16 Screenshot by Microsoft
The Windows 95 desktop.
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8 of 16 Screenshot by Microsoft
A view of Windows 95 showing layered windows on the desktop.
9 of 16 Screenshot by Microsoft
The Windows 95 Start menu.
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10 of 16 Screenshot by CNET
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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11 of 16 Screenshot by Astroview120mm
Windows 2000 Professional Edition, launched to consumers in February 2000.
12 of 16 Screenshot by Microsoft
Windows Millennium Edition, or Windows Me, was released in 2000.
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13 of 16 Screenshot by CNET
A screenshot of Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 3 installed.
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14 of 16 Screenshot by JamesWeb
The Windows Vista Ultimate desktop.
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15 of 16 Screenshot by Microsoft
The current version of Windows, the Windows 7 desktop and Start menu.
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16 of 16 Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET
A view of the new Windows 8 start screen.

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