Home Technology Happy 20th birthday! Windows 95 and Start Menu

Happy 20th birthday! Windows 95 and Start Menu

Today marks the 20th anniversary of Microsoft’s Windows 95, which undeniably spawned a new era in personal computing. It was August 24, 1995, when the OS was released, a day that’ll go down in history books. Windows 95 laid down the solid foundations upon which the current versions of the OS are based. Essentially, it was a game changer for the company as well for the entire tech brethren.

As before Windows 95, the main players in the desktop market were essentially DOS, Mac OS and IBM’s OS/2 along with several other small players. However, the above-mentioned operating systems were restricted to 16-bit architecture which meant their functionality was limited, notably their inability to natively support Internet access along with multitasking.

Though Windows 95 changed all of that. It was apparently the first operating system offering 32-bit multitasking support and most importantly, supported Internet connectivity right out-of-the-box that made it significantly easier to get online.

Windows 95 created a legacy with the introduction of the Start button, for which the company acquired usage rights to the 1981 Rolling Stones classic ‘Start Me Up’, used as marketing campaign to promote Windows 95. Along with Start button, Windows 95 also added a taskbar to the desktop for the first time. The feature gave Windows 95 multitasking capabilities, a feature users had been looking forward to for quite a while, that too was rather easy to use and understand among users.

Windows 95 at first run

This eventually made Windows 95 most the dominant OS in the desktop market, ending the reign of several competing operating systems, notably IBM’s OS/2 that many still argue was most advanced OS at that time.

While there have been many attempts to end Windows dominance with the introduction of several competing operating systems, for instance, there had been attempts to make Linux as more of a mainstream OS. However, aside from a meager 5-10 percent market share that Apple’s OS X commands, Windows 95 and its predecessors have enjoyed their dominance over the past 20 years.

It could still be a matter of debate whether Microsoft’s dominance in the desktop market is justified, but one can’t deny that Windows 95 changed everything when it launched on the same day, twenty years back. Whether we like it or not, Windows still rules the desktop market.

Apart from the immense backlash the company received for the removal of the iconic ‘Start’ button from the initial release of Windows 8, the OS still commands its popularity among global users.

Microsoft released its latest iteration of Windows on July 29, via a massive upgrade process. The company did give good enough reasons to upgrade to the new OS, notably the introduction of Continuum feature, the digital voice assistant Cortana along with several additions based on the feedback it received from members of the Insider program.