Microsoft Releases Windows Version 1.0

On November 20, 1985, two years after the initial announcement, Windows ships Windows 1.0. Now, rather than typing MS‑DOS commands, you just move a mouse to point and click your way through screens, or “windows.” Bill Gates says, “It is unique software designed for the serious PC user…”

There are drop-down menus, scroll bars, icons, and dialog boxes that make programs easier to learn and use. You're able to switch among several programs without having to quit and restart each one. Windows 1.0 ships with several programs, including MS‑DOS file management, Paint, Windows Writer, Notepad, Calculator, and a calendar, card file, and clock to help you manage day-to-day activities. There’s even a game—Reversi.

Windows 1.0 is a 16-bit graphical operating environment that was released on 20 November 1985. It was Microsoft's first attempt to implement a multi-tasking graphical user interface-based operating environment on the PC platform. Windows 1.0 was the first version of Windows launched. It was succeeded by Windows 2.0.

Version 1.02, released in May 1986, was international and had editions in several European languages. Version 1.03, released in August 1986, was for the US- and international market, with enhancements making it consistent with the international release. It included drivers for European keyboards and additional screen and printer drivers. Version 1.04, released in April 1987, added support for the VGA graphics adapters of the new IBM PS/2 computers. At the same time, Microsoft and IBM announced the introduction of OS/2 and its graphical OS/2 Presentation Manager, which were supposed to ultimately replace both MS-DOS and Windows.

Windows 1.0 was superseded by Windows 2.0 in November 1987, but supported by Microsoft for sixteen years, until 31 December 2001.

As a new product, Microsoft Windows faced potential competition from IBM's own Top View, and others. VisiCorp's short-lived VisiOn, released in October 1983, was the official first PC-based GUI. The second was GEM (Graphics Environment Manager), released by Digital Research in early 1985. Both GEM and VisiOn lacked support from the all-important third-party developers. Since, if nobody wanted to write software programs for an operating system, there would be no programs to use, and nobody would want to buy it.

Microsoft finally shipped Windows 1.0 on November 20, 1985, almost two years past the initially promised release date.