- Windows OS
computer operating system (OS) developed by Microsoft Corporation to run personal computers (personal computer) (PCs). Featuring the first graphical user interface (GUI) for IBM (International Business Machines Corporation)-compatible PCs, the Windows OS soon dominated the PC market.The first version of Windows, released in 1985, was simply a GUI offered as an extension of Microsoft's existing disk operating system, or MS-DOS. Based in part on licensed concepts that Apple Inc. had used for its Macintosh System Software, Windows for the first time allowed DOS users to visually navigate a virtual desktop, opening graphical “windows” displaying the contents of electronic folders and files with the click of a mouse button, rather than typing commands and directory paths at a text prompt.Subsequent versions introduced greater functionality, including native Windows File Manager, Program Manager, and Print Manager programs, and a more dynamic interface. Microsoft also developed specialized Windows packages, including the networkable Windows for Workgroups and the high-powered Windows NT, aimed at businesses. The 1995 consumer release Windows 95 fully integrated Windows and DOS and offered built-in Internet support, including the World Wide Web browser Internet Explorer.With the 2001 release of Windows XP, Microsoft united its various Windows packages under a single banner, offering multiple editions for consumers, businesses, multimedia developers, and others. Windows XP abandoned the long-used Windows 95 kernel (core software code) for a more powerful code base and offered a more practical interface and improved application and memory management. The highly successful XP standard was succeeded in late 2006 by Windows Vista, which experienced a troubled rollout and met with considerable marketplace resistance. Despite Vista's disappointing adoption rate, by that point Windows commanded approximately 90 percent of the market for PC operating systems.
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