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Microsoft Windows Technology

The Software That Failed To Compete With Windows 347

Posted by kdawson
from the rear-view-mirror-of-history dept.
harrymcc writes "When Microsoft shipped Windows 1.0 back in November 1985 — it turned 25 on Saturday — it wasn't clear that its much-delayed windowing add-on for DOS was going to succeed. After all, it was a late arrival to a market that was already teeming with ambitious competitors. A quarter-century later, it's worth remembering the early Windows rivals that didn't make it: Visi On, Top View, GEM, DESQview, and more."
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The Software That Failed To Compete With Windows

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  • OS/2 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Monday November 22, 2010 @01:30PM (#34307764) Journal

    They left out the most viable competitor.

    • Re:OS/2 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by VGPowerlord (621254) on Monday November 22, 2010 @01:36PM (#34307826) Homepage

      They left out the most viable competitor.

      Given that this is a list of "Windows' Failed Rivals", OS/2 rightfully isn't on that list... IBM continued to release new OS/2 versions for nearly a decade after its initial release.

      • Re:OS/2 (Score:5, Funny)

        by BrokenHalo (565198) on Monday November 22, 2010 @01:58PM (#34308124)
        OS/2 rightfully isn't on that list...

        ...but then, of course, OS/2 was 1/2 of an operating system.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by RDW (41497)

      This site is generally more comprehensive, and has lots of screenshots (though can't see TopView, which is maybe just as well):

      http://toastytech.com/guis/ [toastytech.com]

    • Re:OS/2 (Score:4, Informative)

      by gstoddart (321705) on Monday November 22, 2010 @01:37PM (#34307846) Homepage

      They left out the most viable competitor.

      I don't believe OS/2 was ever a competitor to the Windows 1.0 that the article is about. Maybe windows 3.x, but I believe Windows 1.0 predates OS/2 by a bit.

      TFA indicate that IBM's Top View would have been around at the same time though.

      • Actually the last PC in the article compared PC/GEOS to Windows 3.0.

      • Re:OS/2 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by interval1066 (668936) on Monday November 22, 2010 @01:49PM (#34307998) Homepage Journal

        "I believe Windows 1.0 predates OS/2 by a bit."

        You're right, but OS/2 is worth mentioning anyway. I tried it back in the day, and really liked it. It was a 32 bit os when Windows was still only 16 bit and REXX was a really powerful shell language, much more so than Batch. I'm really sorry it couldn't survive. Although it gave it quite a go. I think I've read comments from /. readers who still use it.

        • by perpenso (1613749) on Monday November 22, 2010 @02:19PM (#34308386)

          "I believe Windows 1.0 predates OS/2 by a bit."

          You're right, but OS/2 is worth mentioning anyway. I tried it back in the day, and really liked it. It was a 32 bit os when Windows was still only 16 bit ...

          OS/2 2.0 was 32 bit but OS/2 1.0 was a 16-bit protected mode text based replacement for DOS. OS/2 1 eventually had a GUI called Presentation Manager, the API was very similar to MS Windows. I think OS/2 1 + PM is the actual first competitor to WIndows, not OS/2 2.

          In the early MS Windows 3 era MS told developers that Windows was just a temporary GUI for DOS to satisfy existing installations that will eventually be migrated to OS/2 1 + Presentation Manager. They emphasized how source compatible WIndows and Presentation Manager were and that porting would not be a major issue.

          IBM and MS were partners in OS/2. IBM was developing OS/2 2.0 while MS was developing OS/2 NT in parallel. While both were 32-bit and GUI based, OS/2 2 was the more expedient reworking of OS/2 1 and ran only on x86 CPUs. OS/2 NT was to be to the complete rewrite that would run on various CPUs. At some point MS decided to ditch IBM and renamed OS/2 NT to Windows NT. Its interesting to note that Windows NT offered OS/2 1 support.

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by eln (21727)
      They seem to be referring to competitors of Windows 1.0 specifically, not just any old Windows. OS/2 wasn't a competitor of Windows 1.0, if was supposed to be the successor to Windows, developed by IBM and Microsoft jointly. OS/2 didn't really become a competitor to Windows until around Windows 3.0/3.11 after IBM and Microsoft parted ways on the project.
    • Re:OS/2 (Score:5, Informative)

      by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday November 22, 2010 @01:42PM (#34307920) Journal

      From the article: "I considered only environments which were designed to run on IBM-compatible PCs, and which (like pre-1995 versions of Windows) ran on top of DOS rather than replaced it. (That's why the Mac OS and OS/2, for instance, aren't here.)"

    • My memory may be dim, but I don't think that OS/2 even existed in the Windows 1.0 time frame. It wasn't until much later that OS/2 was even started as a project. You cannot compete if you don't exist. This article was about pre-existing projects that existed before Windows was dumped on the market.

    • by Jugalator (259273)

      They left out the most viable competitor.

      Even later than Windows though. They're mentioning competing desktop managers at the time of Windows' inception.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by confused one (671304)
      One legacy of OS/2 is NT 3.5. After the IBM/Microsoft split, the Microsoft team turned out the first NT versions... So, in a somewhat obtuse way, if you want to map out the code legacy, OS/2 lives on.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drsmithy (35869)

        So, in a somewhat obtuse way, if you want to map out the code legacy, OS/2 lives on.

        No it doesn't. NT was not developed from OS/2.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tablizer (95088)

      They left out the most viable competitor [OS/2].

      TFA: "For the purposes of this roundup of Windows rivals, I considered only environments which were designed to run on IBM-compatible PCs, and which (like pre-1995 versions of Windows) ran on top of DOS rather than replaced it. (That’s why the Mac OS and OS/2, for instance, aren’t here.) I also cover only products released in 1990 or before..."

  • So, is this supposed to be a story of victory for MS or a tale of woe for the rest of us?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bolthole (122186)

      Both.
      The "woe" part being, that no replacement for microsoft will succeed, unless it has the same blinding ambition and greed that microsoft had, and the others lacked. This was proven by the fact that the other competitors were "nice", but did not have those qualities, so were dominated.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by erroneus (253617)

        A windows replacement can succeed if it's pushed out by Microsoft. The factors at play were nothing to do with quality of the product. Microsoft "skillfully" pushed its stuff out in such a way that no one else could play in the same market for long. And yeah, OS/2 was effectively stolen by Microsoft and made into Windows NT. I miss OS/2... it was way too good. I wonder what it would be like today if they continued to develop it.

      • Re:So ... (Score:5, Informative)

        by mikael (484) on Monday November 22, 2010 @02:11PM (#34308290)

        Thought it was more the "lock-in" provided by the Window API. Microsoft didn't conquer the workstation market until around 1995 with Windows NT/95. One by one they got the workstation vendors to replace their UNIX OS's with Windows NT using a "UNIX is LEGACY" advertising campaign; DEC, Digital, then HP and SGI caved in, as application developers could really only support the three most popular OS's that their customers use. As Windows NT took over one vendor after another, they gradually reached No.1 position and forced customers and vendors to use Windows.

        UNIX competitors didn't help themselves by charging "UNIX" prices for components like monitors and RS232 cables as well as having totally different API's for everything - remnants of this can be seen when reading Linux man pages - there will be references to POSIX behavior, parameters or result codes.

        At this time, Microsoft Mail was the dominant E-mail server software, but even they had to adopt "sockets" in order to connect to web servers. Sun came out with this little PC on a board solution that ran a Windows desktop in a window in order to allow users to use Microsoft Office, before buying up StarOffice (renamed to OpenOffice) and released it to break the Microsoft stranglehold, then went on to provide JAVA as a rival to MFC, .NET and C#

        You can stand up to Microsoft, but only through co-operation, quality and reliability. Make sure that whatever you develop is to an internationally agreed standard that literally leaves no bit unspecified (even in an API function call). Otherwise, Microsoft will just find a way of embracing, extending and extinguishing that specification through a patent on the use of that single bit. Similarly with "extension" based API's and formats.
        Tie down every single bit and avoid any sort of "extension format"

    • >>>a tale of woe for the rest of us

      Yes. Woe. Windows was complete crap prior to 95, which is why I mostly used Mac OS and Amiga OS. Hell even the lowly Commodore=64 had a better "windowing" system called GEOS. I only moved to windows 98 because atari died, commodore died, and apple looked like it was heading the same direction.

  • I still have a copy of DesqView/X which I know came afterward but was a much better alternative. I remember a friend showing me it running on top of DOS and Windows 3.1(or maybe it was '95) running on DVX. That was better multitasking than Windoze ever brought.

    • by Rifter13 (773076)

      RIP Desqview/X. I remember running it, and loving it. I was able to get a few other friends to try it, too. I agree with you on this.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Safety Cap (253500)

      Windows 3.1(or maybe it was '95) running on DVX.

      It would've been Win 3.1. DV/X was released in the early 90s, well before Win95.

  • OS/2 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Markvs (17298) on Monday November 22, 2010 @01:33PM (#34307792) Journal
    As someone who in 1991 ordered his 386/SX (4MB RAM, 80MB hard drive and 256k VGA card) with MS DOS 5.0 and Windows 3.0, I'm amazed that OS/2 isn't mentioned in the article since it was the other OS option at the time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gstoddart (321705)

      I'm amazed that OS/2 isn't mentioned in the article since it was the other OS option at the time.

      Both the summary and the article are discussing the 25th anniversary of Windows 1.0 which shipped in 1985.

      OS/2 was not available "at the time" in question, which was 1985, and wasn't an "option" to Windows 1.0.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by VGPowerlord (621254)

      As someone who in 1991 ordered his 386/SX (4MB RAM, 80MB hard drive and 256k VGA card) with MS DOS 5.0 and Windows 3.0, I'm amazed that OS/2 isn't mentioned in the article since it was the other OS option at the time.

      OS/2 being a failure would be news to IBM, who sold it for a combined total of 19 years (1987-2006) across all versions.

    • by Binestar (28861)
      Perhaps you should read the article... OS/2 was mentioned, along with MacOS.
  • GEM was pretty good but Ventura was the only app I ever came across for it.

    DesqVIEW was useful but really just as a fancy menu / full screen task switcher.

    For a while were were an OS/2 shop, it really was better than Windows but Windows did the dirty with Word and here we are.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MrEricSir (398214)

      I remember that when you ran DOS apps when GEM, it would open a dialog asking how much RAM you wanted to allocate for the program. Hardly a user-friendly desktop.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Malc (1751)

      GEM Desktop was great (I had it on an Amstrad 1512, with dual 360K 5.25" floppy drives!), but crippled compared with the version running on Atari STs because they removed the "trash can" thanks Apple being predatory.

    • by HBI (604924) <kparadine@@@gmail...com> on Monday November 22, 2010 @02:35PM (#34308616) Homepage Journal

      You didn't use Desqview appropriately, then.

      With QEMM loaded on a 386 platform and lots of available memory, Desqview was a superior multitasker that would run raw DOS applications simultaneously. No special coding required, though if you did code to TopView/DV then more applications could be run simultaneously.

      I ran 4 nodes of a DOS multinode BBS, along with door applications, on a single 386-20 DV box with 4MB of RAM. Searchlight, then Wildcat, if you are interested.

      Easily kept up with the modems. In fact, the lack of a multiport serial board was more the reason why I didn't run more nodes than any inherent limitation of DV. There was plenty of CPU to spare.

      The only limitation DV really had was that it didn't arbitrate hardware misconfigurations. Therefore, if you tried to use the same ports/IRQ lines from different windows, you could lock the system hard. Assuming you weren't doing anything stupid, though, it was great stuff. Also, doing BIOS video output made it easier for DV to control the output. Most applications did direct screen writes, so you were kind of stuck with the overhead unless you wrote your own code. I did, so using BIOS output was an option for me.

  • X-Windows? (Score:3, Funny)

    by mozumder (178398) on Monday November 22, 2010 @01:36PM (#34307834)

    Half the audience here is still running it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This was perhaps the Enabler for Windows. It addressed the primary multi-tasking via
    a terminate-and-stay-resident pop-up that had a calculator, todo list, and the like.
    By solving this problem for Word Perfect, Lotus and DB3 users, it delayed the
    adoption of windowing environments for another 2-3 years till Windows 3.0

    • DESQview gave you some of the same capability by making entire user environments swappable. I used both, SideKick and DESQview.
  • by pugugly (152978) on Monday November 22, 2010 @01:38PM (#34307870)

    "Twenty-five years and two days later, it’s not just hard to remember an era in which Windows wasn’t everywhere"

    Bullshit - As a C64 and Atari ST veteran, twenty-five years later it's painful to remember the extraordinary effort it took to lose to windows. I had better graphics playing Neuromancer on the C64 than windows managed for a decade, and let's not even talk about comparing Star Flight on the ST vs the DOS version.

    Jack Tramiel should be strung up for crimes against computing.

    {sigh} - Pug

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tuan121 (1715852)

      Your solid and detailed argument of "Neuromancer on C64 had better graphics than on Windows" is such a solid argument I'm just not sure where to start attacking it...

    • by Mike Buddha (10734) on Monday November 22, 2010 @01:50PM (#34308012)

      So many people have posted that what you need to succeed against Microsoft is simply greed. I think Jack Tramiel is evidence that this is not true. Greed != Business Acumen.

    • by Angst Badger (8636) on Monday November 22, 2010 @01:58PM (#34308126)

      Bullshit - As a C64 and Atari ST veteran, twenty-five years later it's painful to remember the extraordinary effort it took to lose to windows. I had better graphics playing Neuromancer on the C64 than windows managed for a decade, and let's not even talk about comparing Star Flight on the ST vs the DOS version.

      Seriously. I never had one -- I was an Apple II fanatic for reasons (obviously) unrelated to its graphics capabilities -- but the Atari ST was an amazing piece of hardware, way ahead of its time, and in retrospect, I can see that it was clearly the best of the 8-bit era. This was a machine with three microprocessors: one general purpose CPU and separate processors for both sound and video. And it was cheaper than most of its competitors. It probably would have been vastly successful if the Atari name hadn't been so firmly associated with games.

      I wonder how old the author of TFA is. It's not hard to remember life before Windows at all. I remember life before DOS, back when the first pull-down menus were implemented in WordStar -- a text editor by today's standards -- solely as an aid to learning the key commands.

      Hardware and software have come a long way since then, but it came at the expense of losing the rich variety of the early personal computer era, to the point that people now have passionate arguments about the barely perceptible differences between Mac and PC GUIs.

      Hm, if I'm not mistaken, this is where I should tell someone to get off my lawn. ;)

      • by radish (98371) on Monday November 22, 2010 @02:36PM (#34308638) Homepage

        Agreed, except that the ST was 16-bit (actually parts were 32-bit). There's a rumor (not sure how true it is) that the letters "ST" came from "Sixteen/Thirtytwo".

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by master_p (608214)
        You are wrong on most of your accounts. It's amazing that memory has faded so fast. 25 years is not that of a big period of time to forget all those things.

        but the Atari ST was an amazing piece of hardware,

        It wasn't. It was a shitty piece of hardware, bolted on the superior cpu of the time (the MC68000). The sound chip of the ST as an FM modulator with 3 channels and only one hardware channel, and there was no graphical acceleration. Graphics were limited to 320x200 with 16 colors, 640x200 with 4 colors and 640x400 with 2 colors. It had MIDI ports, but the

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by H0p313ss (811249)

      "Twenty-five years and two days later, it’s not just hard to remember an era in which Windows wasn’t everywhere"

      Bullshit

      My thoughts exactly, it makes me wonder how old this kid was (and will he stay off my lawn?)

      Given just how retarded Windows 1 was compared the original Mac we should be more surprised just how successful they've been. Even Win 3.1 only competed with Apple on price. If nothing else Microsoft has my respect for putting lipstick on that pig and finally delivering XP and Win 7 which are pretty damn good.

      (Disclaimer: my personal machines run OSX, iOS, Win7, Vista, XP and Linux ... as an oldschool Linux junkie wh

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Stuntmonkey (557875)

      Jack Tramiel should be strung up for crimes against computing.

      I wouldn't call them crimes necessarily. Tramiel was just misguided: He thought of computers as an extension of the calculators he made before, which were an extension of the typewriters before that. In this mindset the computer is a widget that is undifferentiated from any other, where price and distribution are all-important and the engineering details don't matter. This fundamental mistake spelled doom for Commodore, but on the other han

  • I used GeoWorks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by David Gerard (12369) <slashdot AT davidgerard DOT co DOT uk> on Monday November 22, 2010 @01:41PM (#34307904) Homepage

    I was working as a paperwork generator for a school funding appeal in 1994. They wouldn't pay the bucks for Windows 3 (why spend $45 when you're only trying to make $3 million), but I did get GeoWorks to run on my 386SX (which I had only because when my 286 died, they couldn't get a replacement 286 motherboard; they were very annoyed). It was very nicely designed, ridiculously usable and very fast. Fatal problem? It was ridiculously unstable and would crash if you looked at it funny. Windows with Wordpad would have beaten it as a productivity tool. Oh well.

  • Desqview (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheDarkener (198348) on Monday November 22, 2010 @01:41PM (#34307908)

    was awesome. I used it to run multiple nodes on my Renegade BBS. Of course, back then nothing was truly multitasking, but this was pretty darn stable for its time. We moved to Windows '95 when we were told that it would provide better multitasking abilities.

    It was at that point I started truly despising Windows/Microsoft. "What are all of these files in my root directory?" I remember exclaiming. I always kept a very organized filesystem, and now my operating system was telling me I couldn't do that anymore.

    It was all pretty much downhill from there.

    • Re:Desqview (Score:5, Informative)

      by gstoddart (321705) on Monday November 22, 2010 @01:48PM (#34307988) Homepage

      Of course, back then nothing was truly multitasking, but this was pretty darn stable for its time.

      Well, except for UNIX and a couple of others. There was real multi-tasking in 1985, don't let anybody tell you that Windows '95 was first with it.

      MS was actually late to the game when it came to multi-tasking.

      • Well, except for UNIX and a couple of others.

        Sure - I should have clarified, no real multitasking in MS-based operating systems =)

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by cbhacking (979169)

          NT came out in 1993 and was true 32-bit with full pre-emptive multitasking. It wasn't the first OS with those features, but it handily beat Win95.

    • Re:Desqview (Score:4, Insightful)

      by elbobo (28495) on Monday November 22, 2010 @01:51PM (#34308032)

      Same experience here. Nothing at the time other than DESQview was offering decent multitasking for tasks like BBSes. Windows was a joke in comparison.

      Eventually I gave up DESQview, but it was a painful transition and I bitterly resented Microsoft for winning in the market with their inferior product.

    • Re:Desqview (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Monday November 22, 2010 @01:54PM (#34308058) Homepage Journal

      Lord I miss those days. I ran Renegard multinode until I bought MajorBBS (which was really efficient, but proprietary).

      Remember the Extended versus Expanded memory hub-bub way back when? 640K is enough for anyone!

  • DESQview (Score:5, Informative)

    by elbobo (28495) on Monday November 22, 2010 @01:44PM (#34307946)

    DESQview was brilliant. It was completely workable on the hardware of the time, functional, did what the box said, fast... It was the right solution for the time. It just happened that hardware moved on and left the phase in time that DESQview occupied behind.

    I was running multinode BBSes under DESQview back in the day and getting fantastic performance. None of the graphical competitors were in any way workable alternatives for that sort of performance on the hardware available.

    • Re:DESQview (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Tanktalus (794810) on Monday November 22, 2010 @02:11PM (#34308282) Journal

      I started running my BBS under DESQview. However, I then wanted to learn to program C++, and went out and bought Borland C++ for Windows. Silly me. At least it was the student edition (read: cheap). So I thought, well, Windows 3.1 claims to multitask DOS apps, so why not try it? Well, just running the single DOS app under Windows, not even having anything else loaded, on a 486dx2/66 w/16MB RAM, resulted in users complaining about speed - on their 2400 baud modems. So I knew that was a no-go.

      Then, someone at work (I was a co-op student at the time) suggested OS/2. After buying a student copy of that, too, I installed it. I could run two nodes of the BBS at 33.6kbps PLUS compile under Windows, or I could run one node AND use the other modem to connect to the internet via the university, and load up a web browser and do all of that stuff while the DOS BBS continued to run just fine.

      Later I switched from Renegade to Maximus which had a native OS/2 version. Used a lot less resource that way, but even then, Renegade for DOS still *worked* under OS/2, which is more than I could say for the same machine running DOS 5.0 / Windows 3.1.

      I continued with OS/2 for years, and avoid Windows still, just because it has never, in my estimation, been able to handle what I threw at OS/2, or now throw at Linux. I still miss the OO desktop OS/2 had, that and the Extended Attributes. They were really really useful things - metadata attached to a file that when you removed the file, the metadata automatically went away. Brilliance. Copy the file, the metadata copies along. Move the file, the metadata moves with it. Absolute brilliance. The 64KB limit might have been a bit low to continue on into today, but the idea was still awesome.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by elbobo (28495)

        Well, just running the single DOS app under Windows, not even having anything else loaded, on a 486dx2/66 w/16MB RAM, resulted in users complaining about speed - on their 2400 baud modems.

        Yep. Same here. I gave it a try, and wow was it ever bad - completely unworkable.

        I never got into OS/2, having no copy available to me (I just couldn't afford it). I did my C in Borland's DOS based Turbo C++ inside DESQview and was blissfully ignorant of what life under OS/2 might be like.

        By all accounts I heard soon after

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *

        Then, someone at work (I was a co-op student at the time) suggested OS/2. After buying a student copy of that, too, I installed it. I could run two nodes of the BBS at 33.6kbps PLUS compile under Windows, or I could run one node AND use the other modem to connect to the internet via the university, and load up a web browser and do all of that stuff while the DOS BBS continued to run just fine.

        My OS/2 moment was formatting a floppy in one DOS box while playing Wing Commander in another. Windows would effe

    • DESQview/X (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lophophore (4087)

      DESQview/X was even cooler than DESQview, which was a remarkable piece of software.

      This could display MS-DOS character cell and Windows 3.0 apps onto an X-Terminal, could run X apps locally, could display X apps from Unix onto your pc.

      It was too late to market. Windows 3.11 came out soon after, with reasonable networking, and that was the end... Sadly, even the X window system is now a niche player...

  • GEM (Score:4, Interesting)

    by blind biker (1066130) on Monday November 22, 2010 @01:50PM (#34308016) Journal

    GEM was a damn good piece of software. It was actually multiplatform (CP/M on 8088 and 68000, DOS (any CPU), and I think I saw floppies of GEM for the Commodore 64.

    Incredibly powerful considering the tiny resources it needed. One of the first DTP softwares, Ventura, was based on GEM for its user interface.

    Like X, GEM isn't quite an operating system. It's a graphical shell. Well... more or less what Windows 1.0 was!

  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday November 22, 2010 @01:51PM (#34308028) Homepage Journal

    Windows 1.0 was a total failure. Nobody used it. I worked at a computer store at the time and people would ask us to take it off the drives of the compter because they had no use for it.
    Windows 2.0 was also a total failure.
    Only when Windows 386 and WIndows 3.0 came out was Windows usable. Even then most people didn't use it. It just slowed down their dos programs.
    Only when Windows 3.11 came out did WIndows become popular. Mostly to run DOS apps. Windows won because Microsoft just gave it away for the longest time. Almost nobody would have paid for it. That is why all the others failed. Most people wouldn't pay for a program to run programs!
    Microsoft used the drug dealer method to win market share. But to call any version of Windows before 3.0 as not a failure is just not valid.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sconeu (64226)

      Windows 1.0 was a total failure. Nobody used it. I worked at a computer store at the time and people would ask us to take it off the drives of the compter because they had no use for it.

      I call bullshit. Microsoft didn't get into the pre-installed Windows until 3.0. Hell, in 1985, PCs didn't even come with DOS pre-installed -- you had to FDISK, FORMAT/S, and copy the DOS floppy onto the hard drive yourself.

      Some machines came bundled with Windows 1.0x (I owned one), but they came with a box of 6 360K floppi

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by LWATCDR (28044)

        Kaypro and Zeniths did.
        Kaypro didn't come with Windows but it come with a lot of preinstalled software.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Markvs (17298)

      Windows 1.0 was a total failure. Nobody used it. I worked at a computer store at the time and people would ask us to take it off the drives of the compter because they had no use for it. Windows 2.0 was also a total failure. Only when Windows 386 and WIndows 3.0 came out was Windows usable. Even then most people didn't use it. It just slowed down their dos programs. Only when Windows 3.11 came out did WIndows become popular. Mostly to run DOS apps. Windows won because Microsoft just gave it away for the longest time. Almost nobody would have paid for it. That is why all the others failed. Most people wouldn't pay for a program to run programs! Microsoft used the drug dealer method to win market share. But to call any version of Windows before 3.0 as not a failure is just not valid.

      I call shenanigans!
      * Windows 1.0 was MS-DOS EXEC. It didn't have an installation. Also, what drives are you referring to? As I recall hard drives were pretty scarce in 1985 (heck, even into 1988 when IDE really got going), as most XTs (and early ATs) were dual floppy systems!
      * Yet Windows 2.0 manged to be successful enough that Apple sued Microsoft (in a 189 point lawsuit) over the same look & feel they "borrowed" from Xerox.
      * Also, Windows/386 was a version of Windows 2.1. So much for it being

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by LWATCDR (28044)

        Actually we sold a lot of machines in 85/86 with Hardrives Kaypro 16s, Z-151's Z-158s. We also did a lot of business adding hard drives. 30 mb RLL was very popular.
        Windows 386 was 2.1 but it was sold as Windows 386 and only ran on 386. Again very few people bought it.

        Why run DOS apps under Windows 3.11? Really simple. So you could run more than one at a time. That was Windows 386 and Windows 3.0's big feature.
        You could actually run a something like ACT! and your application at the same time!
        Formatting a flo

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ThreeGigs (239452)

      Windows won because Microsoft just gave it away for the longest time.

      I'll disagree with you there. MS kinda had to give away Windows 3.0, but one change from 3.0 to 3.1 made all the difference in the world: TrueType fonts with WYSIWYG printer output. That was truly the birth of the desktop publishing revolution. The new simplicity of being able to create good looking documents, handouts and brochures *without* having to know any arcane printer commands meant you no longer needed the WordPerfect Guru secreta

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drsmithy (35869)

      Only when Windows 386 and WIndows 3.0 came out was Windows usable. Even then most people didn't use it. It just slowed down their dos programs.
      Only when Windows 3.11 came out did WIndows become popular. Mostly to run DOS apps. Windows won because Microsoft just gave it away for the longest time. Almost nobody would have paid for it. That is why all the others failed. Most people wouldn't pay for a program to run programs!

      Actually, Windows 3.0 was the (surprising to everyone, including Microsoft) turning

  • by PPH (736903) on Monday November 22, 2010 @01:52PM (#34308034)

    ... is to own everything from the application down to (and in some cases including) the hardware. It was inevitable that add-ons to DOS were not going to be allowed to survive. The only viable UIs have been those on top of other (non Microsoft controlled) O/Ss. And they have been viable only because Microsoft hasn't been able to kill them off. Yet.

    Captcha: penguin

  • Revisionist history (Score:4, Informative)

    by Stumbles (602007) on Monday November 22, 2010 @01:56PM (#34308100)
    What a load of shit. It is pretty hard to compete when PC vendors were tied by jackbooted licensing deals with Microsoft and they sabotage their own software so competing software won't or runs "poorly" compared to their own. What's that? Oh yeah, Microsoft was sued just for that; sabotaging their own software.
  • Wayfarer (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gallenod (84385) on Monday November 22, 2010 @01:57PM (#34308104)

    My favorite Windows alternative back in the early 1990's was Wayfarer, a freeware replacement for the Windows v3.x Program Manager. Long before Microsoft figured out how to do tabbed and nested windowing, Wayfarer did both.

    My favorite trick as to post a screenshot of the Windows Program Manager as the screen background and then turn off Progam Manager completely and replace it with Wayfarer, which would minimize to a single desktop icon. People would click on what looked like Program Manager icons with no result.

    (Including the tech support guy who showed up unannounced at my desk one day to install software while I was out and was five minutes away from wiping and reinstalling my entire PC because he couldn't figure out why it wasn't working. I told him the next time he wanted to hijack my PC during the work day he needed to schedule an appointment so he didn't interfere with my work day.)

    Ah, those were the days when we could still have some fun with customization. Now it's all "safe choices" or lock-downs, depending on how you look at it.

  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Monday November 22, 2010 @01:59PM (#34308132) Homepage

    There are plenty of motor car manufacturers, and most people don't just drive a Ford (or whatever). So why is the computing market so different ? I don't believe that it is down to manufacturing capacity, ie s/ware is so much easier to make many of once you have the first copy; if that was so then the many smaller manufacturers, the list is huge [wikipedia.org].

    I think that the key is standards, everyone wants the same - especially file formats. The way that MS got to where it is was by taking everyone else's standards and keeping its own as secret as it could. Whatever reasons: it is something that we should learn from and stop from happening again.

    Disclaimer: my desktop has always been Unix based since 1986, Linux for the last 15 years.

  • Deskmate (Score:4, Interesting)

    by coolmoose25 (1057210) on Monday November 22, 2010 @02:00PM (#34308148)
    I had a Tandy 1000 (still do actually) and ran Deskmate during the Windows 1.0 days... It is hard for people to understand just how messy things were in those days... printer drivers were essentially non-existent and you had to embed printer commands in documents if you were doing anything fancy (meaning different fonts or sizes). There were a plethora of TSR programs (Terminate-Stay Resident) like Sidekick. There were all kinds of hacks to make your machine use memory above 640k. Deskmate was basically something more similar to the Office suite than a real Windows replacement. There were all kinds of menuing programs at the time, many of them shareware, that would essentially allow you to build a simple application launch screen. Deskmate did a pretty fair job of documents and rudimentary spreadsheets... It was the MS Works of its day. Other applications like Lotus 123 and dBase (or Clipper) were the norm - and you ran one of them at a time. (No multitasking) So Windows 1.0 was basically a fancy menu program and as TFA points out, it had many competitors... It wasn't until Windows 2.1 came out that it advanced any farther than that...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      " TSR...hacks to make your machine use memory above 640k..."
      " It is hard for people to understand just how messy things were in those days..."

      No, things were NOT that messy in those days. They were that messy in the DOS/Windows world.

      Other systems of the time had device drivers that abstracted printing details from apps. They had no 640K barriers. They had preemptive multitasking. They had device independent APIs, and abstracted container file formats.

      Don't confuse the mess that was DOS and early Window

  • XTree? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bughunter (10093) <bughunter@noSPaM.earthlink.net> on Monday November 22, 2010 @02:07PM (#34308230) Journal

    Given the particulars of the DOS environment, and the capabilities of the displays at the time, I found XTREE much superior to anything prior to Win95.

    (Excluding the Macintosh and Amiga GUIs, of course.)

  • CP/M (Score:3, Informative)

    by formfeed (703859) on Monday November 22, 2010 @02:08PM (#34308242)
    CP/M? Features almost like *nix but could run on a 32kB computer
    Ah, now you remember!
    No? Anybody?
  • by mpapet (761907) on Monday November 22, 2010 @02:08PM (#34308248) Homepage

    I think sometimes the geeks forget the Marketing adage that most enduring products are functionally "just okay." Typically a successful product uses lots of cash to drown their competitors. Might makes right.

    Someone somewhere said "Early to bed. Early to rise. Advertise Advertise Advertise"

  • by rickb928 (945187) on Monday November 22, 2010 @02:17PM (#34308350) Homepage Journal

    A spectacular opportunity, dommed to failure for all the same reasons as the others.

    Nice trip down memory lane... I used DeskMate at home for a while, got into configuring DesqView for clients, and talked clients out of most of the rest.

    I used DR-DOS for a long time to generate bootable floppies for stuff like patches and Norton Ghost, avoiding some of the unpleasentness of the various MSDOS problems. Ultimately, didn't DR-DOS go to Caldera? I have some of those disks still.

    But Windows was pretty much unstoppable. My old buddies from then still lament that Apple never wrote Mac OS for Intel processors, but that would have gotten Apple into DLL and driver hell, trying to support even the worst drivers from the worst writers, and then getting tarnished with the reputation of unreliablility.

    Still, Windows seems to have come out of that ok.

    Did anyone else get a MACH board for Christmas, and drool over that awful mouse?

    Anyone else ever play Balance Of Power? Damn, I miss that.

  • Visi On (Score:3, Interesting)

    by linebackn (131821) on Monday November 22, 2010 @02:49PM (#34308806)

    In my opinion, there was an additional reason why Visi On failed (As if there weren't enough reasons already)

    Visi On used copy protection. You either had to have your original floppy disk in the drive at boot or have a genuine Visi On mouse attached (the software would check the mouse for a serial number). Now, tell me you don't see the problem with disks or mice wearing out quickly!

    From a historical preservation perspective, the worst part was since few people want to preserve old software besides games, it almost "protected" itself out of existence!

  • by MasterOfGoingFaster (922862) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @11:52AM (#34318262) Homepage

    I've owned and used Top View, GEM, DESQview and Windows 1.0 and all later editions. And I think the real reason Windows won was simple - Drivers.

    I was running Lotus 123, Word Perfect, Ventura Publisher, and AutoCAD. I had expensive ($3000+) graphics cards, a 21" monitor and a laser printer (when they were $5000 beasts). Every time a new software release came out, I had to wait months for drivers to appear for the graphics card and printer. Sometimes they never arrived.

    When Windows appeared, it wasn't very useful. But they always seemed to have drivers. I switched to Ami Pro, Excel and PageMaker because they all ran on a system (Windows) that had drivers for all my equipment. It was wonderful to be out of the waiting-for-drivers quandary. When Windows 386 appeared, I could run my DOS apps in a Window and not have to switch back-and-forth to DOS.

    I'm pretty sure the younger crowd would have no idea what we went through. Every single app either ran at 640x480 (pretty bad on a 21" monitor) or had to have custom drivers. And you only had text printing - no graphics - without drivers. And you only had text printing if your printer emulated the IBM Graphics Printer.

    Pretty soon, the hardware vendors started noticing that the availability of Windows driver became a binary decision for consumers - graphics boards with just Windows drivers would sell, while devices without became hard to sell. Companies that focused on Windows-only got the jump on those that had to write dozens of drivers.

    Stop and think about the effort of keeping track of drivers for graphics, printer, mouse, modem, keyboard, sound card for EVERY app. And then do it again for each new release of every app. This is why Windows won - at least in my opinion.

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