updated 12:04 pm EDT, Mon May 21, 2012
Microsoft shows evolution from Windows 1 to Metro
Microsoft has blogged about the history of Windows user interface changes in preparation for the expected Windows 8 release later this year. The post explains how Windows has morphed from the original release in 1985 through to present day, and the jump from "Aero" UI elements in Windows Vista and 7 to "Metro" in Windows 8.
Starting from the Windows 1 release 27 years ago, Microsoft initially viewed mouse input as a gimmick, rather than the future, before the first commercially successful version, Windows 3, was released in 1990. Windows 3 and 3.1 introduced the File Manager and Program Manager tools, and effectively forced the adoption of mice on its users. Windows 95 introduced the Start menu along with a redesigned user experience, influencing future OS releases.
Windows XP in 2001 and Windows Vista in 2006 are also covered, both influencing the design of Windows 7, which is described as the first mainstream non-phone OS to introduce multitouch support into its core. The company admits, however, that the Aero UI has reached the end of its practical lifetime.
"[The Aero] style of simulating faux-realistic materials (such as glass or aluminum) on the screen looks dated and cheesy now, but at the time, it was very much en vogue," writes Microsoft user experience director Jensen Harris.
Trends that are said to have influenced Windows 8 and its Metro interface include constant Internet connections, cloud storage availability, mobile computing becoming more of a focus, and an aim to make the user central to the experience by being more socially aware.
Windows 8 is expected to be released later this year, with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview available to download.