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Windows – still here despite the breakages

Posted by on November 20, 2015.

Speaking of anniversaries – though this one doesn’t have much to do with security – Microsoft Windows is, in a sense, 30 today. (It’s OK, I’m not going to sing Happy Birthday.)

That is, Windows 1.0 was unveiled (as the Register puts it) on the 20th November, 1985. Not that I noticed at the time: we didn’t use computers in the wood mill where I was working. Although I abandoned wood-machining for IT a year later, my earliest experiences didn’t include Windows. They did include MS-DOS, the Commodore PET, CP/M+ and TurboDos, even Unix, but I only saw enough of GUIs like GEM and TAXI to realize how far they lagged behind Apple at that time. (Command line operations were often far more efficient, if less intuitive.)

In fact, I never saw Windows 1.0 until the early 90s, when I was called out to help someone who was having trouble installing Microsoft Office on – you guessed it – Windows 1.0. And frankly, being well acquainted by then with Windows 2.x and 3.x, I think maybe 1.0 should have stuck with its veil.

The 80s seems a long way off, now. Most people didn’t own a computer, and the average user’s level of understanding of technical issues was probably higher because if they used one at work, they probably received some training even if they didn’t have a computer science background. Malware and security breaches existed, but most people had no direct experience of them. It’s very different today, and I sometimes wonder whether what we’ve gained in terms of slick data processing and colourful graphics altogether compensates for the hugely increased attack surface. And I sometimes think we got a lot more done when we had to generate many of our own (often simplistic) tools rather than rely on bulky apps intended to make full use of the complex operating environments in which we find ourselves working nowadays.

Batch file, anyone?

David Harley


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