We’re all familiar with the phrase “History repeats itself.” This also applies to the world of tech and gadgets. For example, the original design of the laptop is still largely intact, albeit thinner. But when it comes to the Windows operating system (OS), sometimes you need to look a little bit deeper into proving that statement correct.
People are reporting all sorts of problems with Windows 8 right now—from criticism of its user interface to random phone reboots, the problems have piled up so much that Windows division chief Steven Sinofsky, the man who was widely expected to succeed current CEO Steve Ballmer, left the company following a lukewarm reception to Windows 8.
Microsoft isn’t exactly new to having versions of its OS fall short of expectations—Windows ME was widely panned and its successor, Windows XP, became at one point the most used OS in the world. Windows Vista went through the same fate, and Windows 7 had more success than its predecessor. The problem even goes all the way back to Windows 1.0, Microsoft’s first operating system that was announced in November 1983 and released two years later to similar lukewarm reviews.
“Windows provides unprecedented power to users today and a foundation for hardware and software advancements of the next few years. It is unique software designed for the serious PC user, who places high value on the productivity that a personal computer can bring,” the Windows 1.0 press release said. At the time, Microsoft was a relatively new player in developing an OS that had a graphical user interface (GUI)—just as it is today in 2012 with developing an OS that can be used on tablets. Microsoft had experimented with using its OS on tablets before Windows 8, but didn’t make much of an impact as Apple’s iPad continued to be on top of tablet sales.
The same problems came up back then as well—InfoWorld writer John Markoff noted that certain programs were “misbehaving”, and many companies were skeptical about using Windows 1.0. One of the major similarities between Windows 1.0 and Windows 8 is that windowed programs no longer overlap, a function that is available on every Microsoft OS that we are familiar with. Windows 1.0 was criticized for being notoriously slow, and although the same thing cannot be said about Windows 8, it surely took a big step backward when it came to user interface design. So, history did repeat itself, possibly in the most blatant way possible: in its GUI.