Windows has been around for longer than a lot of you have been alive. Established in 1985, the popular operating system has gone through many iterations since then.
It’s one of the most widely used operating systems out there and chances are that some of you have been running it since the beginning. Windows certainly has changed since the first version, but some elements remain consistent.
This list is a run down of some of the signs that you’re a seasoned Windows user – old features that have since been discontinued, introduction of new features, and more. Be sure to leave your own thoughts in the comments section at the end.
You Played Space Cadet Pinball
Games have been built into Windows since it launched. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, after all. We all know about Minesweeper and Solitaire, but do you remember playing pinball? 3D Pinball: Space Cadet was first included in Microsoft Plus! 95 (enhancement software) and went on to be included in the NT 4.0 operating system.
The game offered a single pinball theme, a funky purple and blue affair, on which players could use the two flippers to send the ball flying. The aim, of course, was to rack up as many points as possible and score a place on the leaderboard. Though since it was all offline, you were often just trying to beat yourself!
Sadly, 3D Pinball was last included with Windows XP and didn’t appear in Vista onwards. Though some suspected this was for legal reasons, since the game was developed by an outside company called Cinematronics, it was actually because the game wasn’t compatible anymore and folks at Windows couldn’t make heads or tails of the code – so they took the decision to just scrap it rather than invest vital time that was needed elsewhere.
Jennifer Aniston Taught You About the Start Bar
Back when Windows 95 was released in 1995, Microsoft released a video starring Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry as they meet a “wacky bunch of propeller heads” in “the world’s first cyber sitcom”. As you can probably guess, nothing in the video has aged well, but it’s worth watching.
Windows 95 was the first time that the now-famous Start button and taskbar were introduced. It now seems strange to think about them actually being a new features, but previously program groups had to be launched from a Program Manager. The new menu in 95 allowed applications to be nested in folders and also allowed access to other functions like searching and shutting down.
Controversially, Windows 8 changed focus to the Start screen, a full page display where applications could be launched. After much public outcry Microsoft relented and reintroduced the more classic Start button in Windows 8.1, which will tellingly also be present in the upcoming Windows 10.
You Knew The Genius
“It looks like you’re writing a letter.” Having being parodied many times over since its inception, many people know that Clippy was the helpful (though that word is used loosely and would be hotly debated by some to be switched to ‘annoying’) virtual assistant that would offer tips in Office, the software package that recently celebrated 25 years.
However, did you know that Clippy could be switched out for an entirely different assistant? The advice would be the same, but you could have other characters like a robot, a superhero dog, and a genius (who bore a strong resemblance to Albert Einstein).
The characters changed depending on what version of Office you had, with The Genius being introduced in Office 97, and with some being removed and switched out for new ones. You’d also find them elsewhere on the operating system, like when performing a system search. Sadly, Clippy and his pals have long gone from Windows.
You Remember the Original Use of the A: and B: Drives
Have you ever wondered why the C: drive is the default for your data to be stored on? The A: drive was first used for floppy disks, with the B: drive later coming into use when those with enough cash could afford to have two floppy drives. Motherboard hardware had built-in support for two floppy drives, so the same support was built into operating systems. As such, another drive attached to the system would be assigned the C: drive.
The A: and B: drives weren’t reassignable because it wasn’t considered important to do so. A lot of software, like BIOS, was then developed with the expectation that it’d be stored on the C: drive. Of course, times have now changed and Windows will let you assign A: and B: to volumes – though it still can’t handle boot drives.
Overlapping Windows Were Innovative for You
The first version of Windows used a tiling windows manager. This meant that you couldn’t overlap any windows; they all had to be placed alongside each other. This changed with Windows 2 thanks to the implementation of a stacking window manager. It’s something we take for granted now, but at the time it was considered an innovative feature.
Although it might seem simple in concept, the stacking process has actually been improved over time. You may remember a common bug from early Windows versions (particularly XP) where if a window stopped responding and you dragged it around the screen then it’d leave a trail behind. This was because the stacking manager was unable to redraw the windows and show what needed to be displayed.
You Know All the Ways to Open the Task Manager
The Task Manager first came about, as we know it now, in Windows NT 4.0. While a program called tasks did exist beforehand that displayed the current programs running, the Manager implemented more advanced features.
Task Manager has been a long-standing feature of Windows, but do you know all of the ways to get it open? Different methods have been introduced over the years and another one has been created in Windows 8. Here’s a quick rundown:
- Ctrl + Shift + Esc
- Ctrl + Alt + Del and select Task Manager
- Right click an empty space on the taskbar and select Task Manager
- Win + R to launch the run command and then input and enter taskmgr
- On Windows 8 press Win + X (or right click the Start button on 8.1) and select Task Manager
You’ve Heard and Seen All Startup Screens
The Windows startup screen has not only been seen the world over, but also heard. While they’ve become less relevant over the years as boot times improve, it’s still something that a lot of people will see every day when they turn on their computer.
Brian Eno is considered an innovator in ambient music and he was paid $35,000 to compose the Windows 95 startup sound, which lasts just over 3 seconds. Check out the playlist of startup screens and sounds above and let us know in the comments which brings back the most memories. If you’ve seen them all and heard them all from your past computer use then you’re definitely a seasoned Windows user.
What Do You Remember?
With Windows 10 scheduled for release later this year, it doesn’t look like Microsoft’s operating system is going away anytime soon. Gone are the days when you could only run Windows on a desktop – tablets, phones and more have since been introduced.
Have you been using Windows for a long time? What historical knowledge do you have to impart that’ll impress newbies?
Image Credits: Skull with old computer Via Shutterstock
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