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Microsoft Windows 1.0

Updated 15 September 2022

Microsoft Windows 1.0, the original Windows, before Windows 11, before Windows NT, and Windows 3.1 came Windows 1.0. Legend has it that it was so behind the Commodore Amiga and Apple Macintosh that Microsoft quietly recalled this version of the Operating System and started again. Wikipedia says otherwise and history has surely demonstrated the popularity of the Microsoft Windows platform.

Microsoft Windows 1.0 Logo

There is so little information available about the grand-daddy of all Microsoft Windows operating systems. We thought that we should start a page on the information we have gathered over time. It is alleged that Bill Gates saw competitors running graphics windows systems and decided that Microsoft need to take a slice of that pie. Wikipedia describes how Bill Gates was wondering around COMDEX 1982 and saw VisiCorp's Visi On graphical interface and spied a new business opportunity. Microsoft Windows 1.0 was launched to the public in November 1983 to mixed reviews. Technology press at the time declared the War of the Windows on the IBM was on. Critics at the time felt that Windows 1.0 was too demanding of electronic equipment of the time but considered the platform to have potential!

Running Microsoft Windows 1.0

It is difficult to obtain an original boxed copy of Windows 1.0 on the auction market. You can, however, load up a virtual Windows 1.0 PC in your browser. Or alternatively, watch the video.

Notice: Video is served by Internet Archive. Please refer to the Internet Archive copyright and privacy policies.

Microsoft Windows 1.0 GUI programs

Windows 1.0 runs a shell program known as the MS-DOS Executive and mainly provides mouse functionality. Interestingly, it is claimed that Windows 1.0 is not Y2K proof. As with more modern versions of this ubiquitous operating system, a number of programs were supplied, including Calculator, Calendar, Clipboard Viewer, Clock, Notepad, Paint, Reversi, Cardfile, Terminal and Write. We are not aware of any third-party developer applications that ran exclusively on Microsoft Windows 1.0.

Microsoft Windows 1.0 Source Code

Microsoft officially ended support for Windows 1 on 31 December 2021. We believe in the power of digital preservation to save our software heritage. So much of our digital heritage in the form of software, websites and personal data gets destroyed or washed away in the current Internet digital tsunami that it is easy to lose our heritage. Jason Scott gives a good interview with VICE on personal digital archiving.

It is our opinion that the Windows 1.0 source code is of cultural importance and the source code should be made public and possibly even released under an open source license. We are also hopeful that the Apple Lisa source code will be released as well. We would like to see the Microsoft Windows 1.0 source code, all development files and records, software development kits, documentation and marketing material re-released in a heritage pack.

There is precedence for releasing the source code for Microsoft software. The Computer History Museum is our preferred source for many historical source code archives. It was the Computer History Museum that released the source code for MS-DOS v1.1 and V2.0. The link to the source code can be found in Computer History Museum announcement. Once these files were release, Microsoft made the MS-DOS source code and executable files available on GitHub. We can imagine that the purist wanting to build the code from the fully original source would start with a fresh compile of MS-DOS to run Windows 1.0 from.

If you are not in need of compiling the code direct from the source, then we think the best place to download the production version is from the WinWorld Windows 1.0 software collection.

Microsoft Windows 1.01 Disks

Microsoft Windows 1.01 was the first public release of MS-Windows. There is a stunning project where you can run Microsoft Windows 1.01 directly within your browser at PCjs Machines. The website contains the complete directory listings across the five distribution disks. These disks are listed below.

Microsoft Windows 1.0 Applications

As with every Windows distribution since 1985, Microsoft has distributed a standard set of applications. These applications promote the desktop concept and are orientated towards general computer productivity. The standard applications are listed below.

Source Code to Windows 3.1 Kernel

A friend on Twitter guided me to this tantilizing post on BetaArchive boasting, "The source code to Windows 3.1 KERNEL has been sitting under our noses since 2004." This post is on the BetaArchive that holds the motto, Collect, Learn, Preserve!

Microsoft Windows 1.0 Screenshots

Microsoft MS-DOS Executive screenshot
Microsoft MS-DOS Executive
Microsoft Windows Calculator screenshot
Microsoft Windows Calculator
Microsoft Windows Calendar screenshot
Microsoft Windows Calendar
Microsoft Windows Cardfile screenshot
Microsoft Windows Cardfile (discontinued)
Microsoft Windows Notepad screenshot
Microsoft Windows Notepad
Microsoft Windows Paint screenshot
Microsoft Windows Paint (discontinued)
Windows 1.0 Reversi screenshot
Microsoft Windows Reversi (discontinued)
Windows 1.0 MS-DOS Executive screenshot
Microsoft Windows shutdown
Windows 1.0 Control Panel set date time
Microsoft Windows 1.0 startup screen

Article tags: vintage computers

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