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Legendary Windows 95 turns 25


Day 24 August 1995 was marked by the official presentation of the legendary Windows 95, thanks to which operating systems with a graphical user interface went to the masses, and Microsoft gained wide popularity. After 25 years, let’s try to figure out what Windows won the hearts of billions of users around the world.

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One of the most important features of Windows 95 was that the operating system allowed you to use your computer without having to interact with the command line. Unlike its predecessor, Windows 3.11, the new OS booted directly into the graphical interface, despite the fact that the same DOS kernel was hidden under the hood, albeit significantly improved. Recall that prior to Windows 95, users had to buy MS-DOS and Windows separately and then install a shell on top of the OS. “Ninety-fifth” combined the graphical interface and the actual operating system into one complete product. In addition, for most users the upgrade was completely painless, as Windows 95 offered backward compatibility with all software written for DOS.

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On the other hand, due to the use of the DOS kernel, Windows 95 suffered from nasty glitches, often related to memory management conflicts, which Windows NT did not. However, the popularization of NT systems among ordinary users began only five years later, with the release of Windows 2000, and the full transition was completed a year later, with the release of the legendary Windows XP.

Among other things, Windows 95 first introduced elements such as the Start menu and taskbar, which are hard to imagine working without. Microsoft has positioned Start as a key element of the system, an easy way to get started with a PC, even for an untrained user. And the taskbar for the first time provided users with a convenient way to manage programs open in several different windows, which at that time could not boast of any of the popular operating systems.

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Among other important innovations in Windows 95, it is worth noting the emergence of the file manager “Explorer” (Finder), which compares favorably with what could be seen in previous versions of Finder and was very similar in functionality to its counterpart from Mac OS. Also, right-click context menus, file shortcuts, trash can, device manager, system-wide search, built-in support for Win32 and DirectX applications, which allowed playing in full-screen mode, appeared here.

Windows 95 did not originally include a web browser, which needed to be installed separately. In December 1995, the legendary Internet Explorer, originally called Internet, was included in Windows 95. By the way, this angered the developers of third-party browsers so much that in 1998 Microsoft became a defendant in a major antitrust hearing.

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In addition, the launch of Windows 95 was accompanied by the most expensive advertising campaign at the time. Its cost was about $ 300 million. The OS was advertised everywhere: in newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and billboards.

The effect was impressive. Microsoft sold one million copies of Windows 95 in its first week. The total number of copies sold of the system was about 40 million in the first year. Windows 95 has become a truly outstanding product in the operating system market, and many of the functions and features introduced with it 25 years ago are still alive in the current Windows 10.

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