The Windows operating system is one of the most popular and widely used in the world. It has been around for nearly four decades and has evolved over the years. With such a long history and varied versions, it’s easy to find interesting facts that many people have managed to forget or have never heard of.
Here we present 5 interesting facts from the history of Windows that (we bet) you don’t know about.
1. The first version of Windows was less than 1 MB in size and required as much as(!) 256 KB of RAM
The first version of Windows, Windows 1.0, was released on November 20, 1985. It was a graphical operating environment running on MS-DOS.
Windows 1.0 had relatively modest hardware requirements compared to modern operating systems, due to the technological limitations of the time. Among other things, it only needed 256 kilobytes (KB) of RAM, a graphics card supporting 640×200 pixel resolution to operate.
It is worth remembering because Windows 1.0 introduced several features that were groundbreaking at the time. It included a graphical environment with separate windows, drop-down menus, scroll bars, and dialog boxes. This version featured a control panel, which allowed users to customize system settings.
In addition, Windows 1.0 introduced the concept of keyboard shortcuts, allowing users to perform tasks quickly by pressing specific key combinations.
2. Selected users were able to receive a version of Windows with a windshield wiper and cloth
There is also an anecdote associated with the first version of Windows, showing that even a company as serious as Microsoft can occasionally show a fair amount of humor.
At the launch of Windows 1.0 in 1985, Microsoft sent out a press kit to journalists containing a squeegee and a cloth in a box with a note that said “For a Clear View on What’s New in Microcomputer Software.”
3. Along with Windows, Microsoft created one of the most popular games of all time
We’re talking, of course, about Solitaire (Solitaire), which was bundled with almost all versions of the system, starting from 1990 and Windows 3.0.
Despite the fact that Solitaire is more than 30 years old, it still enjoys considerable interest – in 2020, on the occasion of the game’s 30th anniversary, Microsoft reported that the number of active users exceeds 35 million per month, while more than 100 million Solitaire games are played daily around the world.
It is certainly interesting to note that the main task of the game was not to provide computer users with entertainment, but first and foremost to teach them the skills needed to efficiently use the new operating system, which was a major innovation in its time.
Microsoft used Solitaire to teach users the intuitive use of the mouse and the drag-and-drop method, instead of the command line that had been commonly used before. To this end, the game of repeatedly dragging and dropping tabs again and again worked perfectly.
4. The title of the most viewed image in history… belongs to the Windows XP wallpaper!
Accurate statistics are hard to come by in this regard, but it is estimated that the default wallpaper in Windows XP called “Bliss” has been viewed repeatedly by more than 1 trillion people worldwide in the 22 years that have passed since the system’s debut in 2001.
The photo shows undulating green hills and blue skies. It was taken in Sonoma County, California, by photographer Charles O’Rear.
According to data published on Petapixel, this photograph may also be the leader in another category. Most likely, for the exclusive rights to use it, Microsoft offered O’Rear at least $100,000, i.e. the second-highest fee ever paid to a photographer for a single photo.
5. Older versions of Microsoft products were full of hidden surprises – such as a flight simulator in Excel or a flipper in Word
It has been a long-standing tradition among developers creating Microsoft products to include so-called “easter eggs” – content hidden from the user that often had a humorous touch – in their code.
Examples of some of the more surprises that could be found in Microsoft programs include:
- a flight simulator hidden in Microsoft Excel 97, which featured a surreal purple landscape and a scrolling monolith of end credits in the middle;
- a pinball game in Microsoft Word 97,
- a Dev Hunter racing game in Microsoft Excel 2000 + Microsoft Office Web Components, where we sat at the controls of a car and were tasked with finding and eliminating the developers responsible for creating Office’s web components;
Extended versions of “easter eggs” known from older versions of Microsoft products are a thing of the past – due to concern for software stability and security, these practices have been curbed.
These are just a few of the tidbits about Windows systems that have accumulated in the nearly four decades that have passed since the debut of the first version of the software.
This post is also available in: Polski (Polish)