Microsoft Windows turns 30: A brief retrospective..

Thirty years ago, on November 20, 1985, Microsoft released version 1.0 of its new graphical shell called Windows. Much has been written about how Microsoft copied the Macintosh and Lisa, and how in turn Apple had copied from Xerox PARC — feel free to watch Pirates of Silicon Valley for a quick refresher, or read some of the excellent books written about these companies like Accidental Empires or Hackers for more accurate details than what the movie offered.

Here’s where we’d normally say something like “and the world was never the same,” except that for the first several years, the world remained exactly as it was, because Windows 1.0 sucked. For example, it didn’t even let you overlap windows — that didn’t come until Windows 2.0 (then known as Windows/286 and Windows/386). Instead, you just tiled them on the screen. And as anyone from the time remembers, Windows still required DOS to run underneath, as it was DOS that was the operating system for the IBM-PC and compatibles at the time. (This was also true of successive versions until Windows 95.)

Windows 1.0 required a minimum of 256K of memory, two double-sided floppy drives, and a graphics card, while Microsoft recommended a hard disk and 512K memory, especially for computers running DOS 3.0 or higher.

windows 1.0

By that point, IBM PCs running Microsoft DOS were around for four years; owners were quite familiar with the C:\ prompt and setting up CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files. Windows 1.0 was Microsoft’s attempt at a friendlier, mouse-based user interface, one that let you switch between several programs simultaneously, and without having to quit and restart each one. This amounted to what’s known as cooperative multitasking, where all programs running in memory would cooperate to schedule processor time. The interface contained drop-down menus, colorful icons, and scroll bars, while dialog boxes would pop up and tell you important information.

Windows 1.0

In day-to-day use, assuming you were willing to put up with it, Windows 1.0 centered around MS-DOS Executive, within which you ran a bunch of utilities designed to make your life easier, including a basic paint program and word processor (Write), a notepad, a calculator, a card file, and a calendar. It also came with Reversi; Solitaire didn’t show up until Windows 3.0. There was even a clock, because hey, it still cost $20 or $30 to put one of those on your desk or on your wrist, so why not have one for free? Nonetheless, there wasn’t much else you could do within Windows 1.0, as Microsoft Office had yet to be released and there were few other compatible programs available.

Windows 2.0

Anyway, Windows 1.0 was not successful, so Microsoft was hard at work on a new version that it released in December 1987 called Windows 2.0 (above). This one supported expanded memory on 386 processor-equipped machines, in addition to the aforementioned overlapping windows. The latter are what led Apple to sue Microsoft, alleging copyright infringement. Windows/286 was the first version I actually purchased, while I was in high school, and ran it on my 286 PC. This version was actually semi-usable, although many people still opted for DESQview or a Macintosh if they needed a graphical interface.

Windows 3.0

But it wasn’t until Windows 3.0’s release (above) in 1990 that Microsoft got serious — and 3.0 was the first version that truly took off in sales, especially with the release of Microsoft Office in November 1990 and the Windows 3.1 update in 1992. Microsoft says that Windows 3.0 sold 10 million copies in the first two years, thanks to its improved graphics, virtual memory, and restructured Program Manager, File Manager, and Print Manager that together made for a makeshift pseudo-OS you could work all day in without dropping back to the DOS prompt — unless you were a gamer, in which case you still saw the DOS prompt all day long and didn’t bother running Windows while doing so.

I still remember owning and reading the June 26, 1990 issue of PC Magazine, which had a huge spread on the debut of Windows 3.0, cover to cover. Between that and the upcoming MS-DOS 5.0, I was hooked on PCs.

From there, Windows 95, NT, and the rest is history. But it was this exact day 30 years ago that Microsoft’s step into graphical user interfaces began in earnest. And regardless of which company copied the other, together Windows and Macs revolutionized desktop computing, and to this day hundreds of millions of machines sit on people’s desks with what amounts to more or less the same windowed interface.


Thanks for your reading…

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Another new innovation from DELL -Dell Optiplex 9020 Micro desktop for commercial use

Desktop PCs are a powerful and affordable computing solution for the office and at home, but the bulk and weight associated with traditional towers can be a real hassle. Whether you’re cramped in a cubicle, or looking for more space on your desk, you should definitely take a look at this quad-core OptiPlex 9020 Micro from Dell. It’s small, lightweight, and shockingly powerful.

Inside, this miniature desktop is packing a surprising amount of power. It’s sporting a quad-core 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-4785T processor, and that includes integrated Intel HD Graphics 4600. It also features 8GB of DDR3L RAM (1600MHz) and a 500GB 7200RPM hard drive. Considering this model is only 1.4 inches thick, that’s a lot of horsepower for such a small box.

With such a tiny footprint, you can stash this petite powerhouse just about anywhere. And since it only weighs in at about 2.82 pounds, you can easily pack it up for travel or mount it where you see fit. The options are nigh-on limitless, and the flexibility on offer here is hard to beat.

Typically, this tiny PC costs about $1270, but Dell is currently listing it for $889. And if you use coupon code “$BX8QWH7V$XDD6” at checkout, your subtotal will drop down to just $789. That’s a whopping $482 off the retail price! And when you look at Apple’s Mac Mini, even the top of the line model can’t be configured with a quad-core CPU. For this price and form factor, this configuration is a steal.

Dell Optiplex 9020 Micro mini desktop for $789 (Retail: $1270 — Coupon code: $BX8QWH7V$

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Intel Announces 5th Gen Core Mobile Processors, 14nm Cherry Trail At CES..

Intel 5th Gen.has released… Only for mobile market.

The Consumer Electronics Show is about to get underway, and Intel is leading the pack with a set of CPU announcements. It has been six months since the company took the lid off its first 14nm processor, the Core M, but that CPU is designed for the ultramobile, low-power market. Consumers who wanted to tap Intel’s 14nm products in more mainstream notebook hardware had to wait a bit longer until the Q1 2015 time frame.

This new SoC is a “tick” in Intel’s tick-tock plan, which means it’s mostly a die shrink of the existing Haswell architecture — at least, on the CPU side. On the GPU side, there’s a bevy of improvements and advances, and the video decoder block has been beefed up with dual bit stream decoders in the high-end (GT3) hardware. Other feature improvements and capabilities are expected, though Intel has been quiet on exactly what it has tweaked and changed to date.

Intel is going to hit the drum on this launch from multiple angles. First, there’s die size. At a time when TSMC’s 20nm has been characterized as a modest improvement on die size and power consumption, Intel is positioning these new Broadwell cores as a full 37% smaller — in line with what we’d expect from a standard die shrink.

Similarly, the company is arguing that it can boost battery life by 1.5 hours, speed video conversions, and offer a whopping 22% improvement to 3D performance — a gain on par with what we saw when moving from Ivy Bridge to Haswell. The 4% productivity jump isn’t going to light up the sky, but productivity gains have been stalled for years thanks to macro trends in the semiconductor industry. Intel’s “ticks” generally don’t deliver much in the way of improved CPU performance in any case, that’s what the larger “tock” is for.

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Alienware Area-51: Triad, Tri-SLI GTX 980, Haswell-E –

A new beginning of the PC designing form factors.

Dell’s Alienware division has a knack for making a splash with PC system design, whether it’s with their big, bad unapologetic notebooks, unique X51 small form-factor PCs, or their no-holds-barred Area-51 killer gaming rigs. In fact, for some folks, Alienware designs can be an either “you love it or hate it” affair. Full disclosure: personally, we tend to be cut from the former affectionate group of performance enthusiasts that generally favor Alienware’s outside-the-box design efforts — and oh boy, Alienware’s recent redesign of the Area-51 is way outside the box.

In fact, it’s not really even a box at all, it’s what Dell’s Alienware design team calls a “Triad” design.

With 45-degree angled front and rear face plates, that are designed to direct control and I/O up toward the user, in addition to better directing cool airflow in, while backside warm airflow is directed up and away from the rear of the chassis, this machine grabs your attention right away. There’s nothing else like it on the market currently. Alienware might call it Triad, but we’d actually call it pretty bad-ass.

Processor: Intel Core i7-5930K @3.5GHz Six-Core
Memory: 16GB DDR4-2133 (4x4GB)
Graphics: 3 x NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 – Tri-SLI
Motherboard: Custom Alienware Area-51, Intel X99 Chipset
Storage: 1 x 256GB Samsung SSD 850 Pro Solid State Drive
Optical: Slot-Loading 6X Dual Layer Blu-ray DVD-RW Drive
Power Supply: Custom Alienware 1500 Watt
Chassis: Custom Alienware Triad Chassis
Cooling System: Self-Contained Liquid CPU Cooler
Connectivity: Gigabit LAN, Killer NIC e2200, Intel Dual Band Wireless AC-7260, Bluetooth 4.0
Front Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, Headphone/Mic, SD-Card Slot,
Rear Ports: 4 x USB 3.0, 4 x USB 2.0, Audio, 3 x DVI, 3x HDMI, 12x DP
Operating System: Windows 8.1 64-bit
Dimension/Weight 25.16″x10.74″x22.41″ (DxWxH) – Approx. 61.7 Lbs.
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