Chronology of
Microsoft Windows Operating Systems

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URL: https://pctimeline.info/windows/

This document is an attempt to bring various published sources together to present a timeline about Microsoft Windows Operating Systems.

References are numbered in [brackets], which are listed here. A number after the dot gives the page in the source.

Last updated: 2022 April 29.


1981

September
  • Microsoft begins work on a graphical user interface for MS-DOS, initially called Interface Manager, because it would effectively hide the interface between programs and devices like printers and video cards. (This is the beginning of Windows.) [346.175] [1648.51]

1983

  • Microsoft shows IBM a raw version of Windows. IBM is not interested as they are already developing what would be called TopView. [45]
April
  • Microsoft gives a "smoke-and-mirrors" demonstration of Interface Manager (later called Windows), which consists entirely of overlapping windows, appearing to be running programs simultaneously. [477.160] [1299.220]
(month unknown)
  • Microsoft marketer Rowland Hanson convinces Bill Gates to change the name of Interface Manager to Windows. [477.164] [1149.252]
November
  • Microsoft again shows Windows to IBM, and again IBM is not interested. [45]
November 10
  • At the Helmsley Palace Hotel in New York City, Microsoft formally announces Microsoft Windows for the IBM PC. This is the most elaborate product introduction in industry history. Windows is promised for release in April, 1984. Bill Gates predicts that by the end of 1984, Windows would be used on over 90% of all IBM compatible PCs. (The first version doesn't even ship until late 1985.) [9] [45] [123] [137] [228.53] [346.177] [389.28] [416.67] [477.158] [548.159] [909.228] [1149.258] [1299.241] [1639.108] [1648.52] [2605.170]

1984

May
  • Microsoft ships software developer kits for Windows. [909.229]
June
  • At Microsoft, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer write an internal applications strategy memo on the company's commitment to the graphical user interface, on the Macintosh and for Windows. [686.148] [1299.256]
October
  • Microsoft gives a demonstration of the final version of Windows to IBM. For the third time, IBM is not interested. [45]

1985

May
  • Microsoft demonstrates Microsoft Windows at Spring COMDEX. Release date is set for June, at a price of US$95. [346.187]
June
  • Microsoft announces Windows 1.0. [75] [150]
July
  • Micrografx releases In-A-Vision, the first application for Microsoft Windows from an independent software company. [346.191] [307.95] [1149.391] [1299.294]
  • Microsoft ships the "premiere edition" of Windows to software developers, OEM customers, and select press members. [1299.284]
November 20
  • Microsoft ships Microsoft Windows version 1.01 for the IBM PC, for US$100. It is delivered two years after the initial announcement of the product. [16] [107] [117] [120] [123] [130] [134] [136] [146] [346.192] [477.159] [548.159] [909.230] [1089.D3] [1133.22] [1280.46] [1299.292] [1629.34] [1631.40] [1639.109] [1648.52] [1799.3] [1897.124,128] [2605.171] (November 21 [1149.313]) (v1.03 [346.187,268] [1629.34])
November 22
  • Apple Computer and Microsoft sign a licensing agreement permitting Microsoft royalty-free rights to use graphical display technology of the Macintosh for Windows 1.0, and Macintosh versions of several Microsoft products. [309.256] [346.192] [477.170] [1149.314] [1205.34] [1299.292] [2605.171] (1984 [38])

1986

January
  • Lotus Development announces it would support Microsoft Windows with future product releases. [1133.22]
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  • Two months after releasing Microsoft Windows, Microsoft has shipped 35,000 copies. [1133.22]
February
  • Microsoft releases a French version of Microsoft Windows 1.02. [346.268]
  • Microsoft urges MS-DOS program developers to adopt the programming rules of Windows, to ensure they work under future versions of DOS and Windows. [1133.22]
(month unknown)
  • Microsoft purchases Dynamical Systems Research, maker of a TopView clone called Mondrian, for US$1.5 million in Microsoft stock. Microsoft makes the purchase for TopView compatibility in Windows. [45] [1299.314]
  • At Microsoft, Steve Ballmer tries to convince Bill Gates to abandon Windows and put full emphasis on Presentation Manager for OS/2. Bill Gates decides against it. [1149.348]

1987

April 2
  • Microsoft announces Microsoft Windows 2.0. [123] [137] [1299.328] [1648.52] (April 1 [909.231])
July
  • In New York, Microsoft's Steve Ballmer demonstrates Windows 2 for 600 software developers. [1095.127]
October 6
  • Microsoft announces Microsoft Windows 2.0, and Microsoft Windows/386, priced at US$195. [120] [130] [477.159] [1299.346] (September [909.231])
  • Microsoft unveils the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet software for Microsoft Windows 2.0, the first major application for Windows. Included is Microsoft Windows v2.01. [119] [123] [346.204] [389.28] [477.159] [909.230] [1049.147] [1299.293,346,359] [1559] [1631.40] [1639.110] (November [346.270])
December 9
  • Microsoft ships Microsoft Windows 2.01. It features overlapping windows, and can use protected mode on the 80286 processor. [75] [130] [346.193,206] [477.159] [909.231] [1639.110] [1897.128] (November [146] [346.270])
December
  • Microsoft ships Microsoft Windows/386 software. [909.231] [1629.34] [1639.110] [1897.128] (November [346.270])
  • Microsoft ships the one millionth copy of Windows. [346.270] [1897.128]

1988

January
  • Microsoft releases Microsoft Windows 2.03. [136] [1299.359] [1886.67] [2605.172]
March
  • Microsoft introduces the Microsoft SDK for Windows. [1049.133]
March 17
  • Apple Computer files an 11-page copyright infringement suit in federal court in San Jose, California, accusing Microsoft of stealing visual display features of the Macintosh computer for use in Microsoft Windows 2.0. Apple claims Windows violates 13 different copyrights. Hewlett-Packard is also named as a defendant, for copyright violations in its New Wave software. [38] [46] [75] [309.256] [328.15] [346.193] [346.270] [477.160] [548.337] [580.191] [909.231] [1149.352] [1886.67] [2142.31] [2605.172]
May 20
  • Judge Robert Aguilor agrees to split the Apple Computer - Microsoft case into two separate phases, to decide if Microsoft had been licensed to use Macintosh features in Windows 2.03, and, if necesssary, to determine if Microsoft had violated Apple's copyrights. [1299.363]
June
  • Microsoft ships Windows/286 2.1. [136] [146] [1897.129] (July [909.231]) (Windows 286 2.0 [1639.110]) (1987 [45])
  • Microsoft ships Windows/386 v2.1. [136] [146] (July [909.231]) (1987 [45])
October
  • Microsoft ships the 1 millionth copy of Microsoft Windows 2.0. [606.81]

1989

March 21
  • In San Francisco Federal District Court, Judge William Schwarzer rules that Microsoft Windows 2.03 is not covered in the Apple Computer / Microsoft 1985 technology licensing agreement. The judge rules that only Windows 1.0 as it appeared in November 1985 was covered, and that Windows 2.03 is fundamentally different. This allows the issue to proceed to trial, in the suit of Apple Computer against Microsoft filed in March 1988. [309.256] [1149.355] [1299.383] (April [346.195])
(month unknown)
  • Quote from a Lotus Development official, while demonstrating a new DOS version of Lotus 1-2-3: "We don't see Windows as a long-term graphical interface for the masses.". (Within a year, Microsoft will release Windows 3.0, firmly establishing Windows as a long-term graphical interface for the masses.) [312.14]
July 21
  • US Federal District Judge William Schwarzer tentatively rules that most visual features of Windows 2.03 are covered by the 1985 license agreement between Microsoft and Apple computer. Of 260 similarities claimed by Apple, ten remain to be decided. [2142.31]
November 13
  • At the fall COMDEX show, IBM strongly endorses Microsoft Windows for low end PCs, and Microsoft publicly endorses OS/2 as the future platform for higher-end PCs. IBM and Microsoft agree to jointly develop a consistent, full-range of systems software. [38] [45] [123] [389.29] [477.160] [1064.22] [1149.358]
  • IBM and Microsoft issue a joint statement that Microsoft would hold back features for Windows to help industry acceptance of OS/2. (This letter causes the Federal Trade Commission to begin an investigation of Microsoft for anticompetitive collusion.) [1149.373]

End of 1981-1989. Next: 1990.
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1981-1989 1990-1993 1994-1996 1997-1999 2000-end


A list of references to all source material is available.

Other web pages of interest:

  • Chronology of Personal Computers
  • Personal Computer References in Pop Culture
  • Chronology of Microprocessors
  • Chronology of Handheld Computers
  • Chronology of Workstation Computers
  • This Day in Personal Computer and Video Game History
  • This Day in History

  • Last updated: 2022 April 29.
    Copyright © 2007-2022 (email: ).
    URL: https://pctimeline.info/windows/
    Link to Ken P's home page.