Microsoft next week officially rolls out Windows 7, the latest iteration of its PC operating system. The company is hoping this release will help people forget its predecessor, the Windows Vista OS, and possibly boost the depressed sales and stock price of Microsoft.
The nomenclature of Windows 7 harkens back to the first decade of the software. Windows 1.01 officially debuted in 1985, followed two years later by Windows 2.0. Older PC users may remember Windows 3.0 and Windows 3.1, which were rolled out in 1990 and 1992, respectively. After that, the naming and marketing of new Windows versions took some odd turns.
Many in the PC industry fondly recall Windows 95 – which, naturally enough, came out in 1995. It proved to be a boon for business and consumer sales of Windows-based PCs. It featured the “Start” button on the graphical user interface that later became a staple Windows feature. To market Windows 95, Microsoft licensed the Rolling Stones song, “Start Me Up,” for use in TV commercials, which unofficially ended rock ‘n roll’s rebel status after four decades.
Three years later, there was Windows 98, which wasn’t as spectacularly successful as Windows 95. Then there was Windows Me (for Millennium Edition) in 2000, followed the next year by Windows XP, which was built on the Windows NT kernel and architecture. XP is the version most familiar to many Windows users, and there were protests when Microsoft tried to obsolete the XP version by rolling out Windows Vista in 2006 and 2007. Nearly three-quarters of all desktop PCs in the world run on Windows XP (including my Dell unit at Hoover’s, which operates under Windows XP Professional). Microsoft’s Windows accounts for about 93% of desktop PCs worldwide; Apple Macintosh computers are a very distant second in market share.
Microsoft dearly wishes to put the unfortunate Vista experience behind it through the release of Windows 7, including the odd “Mojave Experiment.” Corporate and government enterprises were reluctant to upgrade to Vista, especially after the scathing negative publicity the OS gathered from bloggers, and the global recession soon provided an economic disincentive to replace PC assets. Since it’s been three years or more since many companies upgraded their IT infrastructure, Windows 7 may present an opportunity for Microsoft to redeem its tattered reputation.