Why Was Windows 95 Such a Game Changer?

In its time, the operating system was a neophyte by comparison. Its nascent architecture, based on DOS, was designed for nerds. The new software still had compatibility with older CPUs, but introduced several other exciting new features. Users could now name files up to 250 characters, use multitasking, and play games. The internet was still in its infancy, but Windows 95 changed all of that.

In 1995, Microsoft released Windows 95, an operating system that integrated MS-DOS with Windows and matched the ease-of-use of Mac OS. As a result, Windows grew to become the dominant platform for productivity software, outpacing longtime rivals such as Atari ST and Lotus. It also spawned the popularity of the Microsoft WordPerfect and Lotus software brands. Today, nearly 90 percent of all PCs in the world run some type of Microsoft operating system.

Windows 95 introduced the document-oriented desktop shell that was similar to the Macintosh Finder. This new interface allowed users to use long descriptive file names to make finding files easier. The new system also brought networking capabilities to the desktop. It was a revolution in computing, but there were still some flaws, but Windows 95 made it a definite game changer. These features are just a sample of what made Windows 95 such a revolution.

MS-DOS compatibility was an important factor. Unlike other operating systems, DOS could not be booted with a 32-bit OS. In addition to DOS compatibility, MS-DOS would require a Program Segment Prefix to start a program. In contrast, Windows 3.x allocated fixed segments in conventional memory first, and could not move them later. This meant that a Windows 95 computer would require 32-bit drivers for most peripherals.

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