The Windows operating system

Other operating systems attempted to overcome the shortcomings of DOS during the late 1980s including the IBM Operating System/2 (OS/2), and UNIX. Both were moderately successful, but it was the release of Microsoft Windows 3.0 in 1990 which triggered the beginning of the end of the dominance of DOS. Windows 3.0 used a graphic user interface (GUI) based environment. The first microcomputer providing a GUI interface was the Apple Macintosh, first manufactured in 1984.

A GUI based operating system makes life much easier for the user because rather than typing commands from the keyboard, the user can perform tasks by clicking graphical icons, or other controls with the use of the mouse. In the Microsoft Windows environment, application programs such as a calculator program could be invoked, by clicking the calc icon (see Figure 1.3). This application would then appear in a program window (hence the name 'Windows' given to the operating system). Notice how the calculator application window has appeared below the Calculator icon in the illustration (this is not always the case). Windows 3.0 sold over 30 million copies worldwide - a huge success! However, it contained many program bugs, and a more stable and successful version called Windows 3.1 was released in 1991. Windows 3.1 was the forerunner to Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows XP, which was released in late 2001.

During the mid-1990s, when the Windows operating system software began to replace the DOS operating system, the term IBM compatible became synonymous with Windows compatible. The personal computer market segmented between Windows compatible and Macintosh compatible systems. However, Windows systems maintain market dominance with more than 90 per cent market share as of the time of writing this book.

Figure 1.3 Opening an application program in the Windows operating system
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