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Microsoft Windows history: A 30-year timeline

Microsoft celebrates 30 years of the Windows operating system when it ships Windows 10 this fall. Here's a look at Windows history -- bumps and all.

Three decades ago, Microsoft introduced the Windows operating system, and though there have been some stumbles throughout its evolution, the technological changes it brought forth have been monumental.

When Windows 1.0 first shipped, it was panned by the critics for using a mouse when, well, a mouse just wasn't popular as an input device.

It wasn't until Windows 3.0's graphical user interface came along that businesses and consumers began to see how helpful a mouse is. Between Windows 3.0 and 3.1, Microsoft sold over 10 million copies -- not too shabby with the personal computing industry still in its early stages.

Microsoft's 30-year history of Windows

By the time Microsoft unveiled Windows XP in 2001, the company's OS and software were fully entrenched in businesses and in homes. An entire ecosystem of app developers surrounding Windows had been born, and Windows XP and later Windows 7 became the standard operating system for business.

Microsoft would probably rather forget the debacle of its initial Windows 8.0 launch, but the company regrouped and is now slated to ship Windows 10 this fall. New features such as a tighter integration between the traditional desktop interface and Windows tiles, as well as containers, could make the new OS attractive to businesses.

While the industry awaits Microsoft's Windows 10, Microsoft is reorganizing its ISV program to entice more developers to create apps for Windows mobile devices in the hopes that apps will drive sales of devices, software and services.

This coming year will be crucial for Microsoft in this mobile-only and cloud-first-only world, and only time will tell whether the company prevails.

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