As we introduce the Windows environment, it's worth expanding on what we said in Chapter 2 about how windows differ from Windows. A window (lowercase "w") is a portion of the video display area dedicated to some specified purpose. An operating system (or operating environment) can display several windows on a computer screen, each showing a different applications program, such as word processing and spreadsheets. However, Windows (capital "W") is something else. Windows is an operating environment made by Microsoft that lays a graphical user interface shell around the MS-DOS or PC-DOS operating system. Like Mac OS, Windows contains windows, which can display multiple applications.
Note: It's important to realize that Windows 3.X ("3.X" represents versions 3.0, 3.1, and 3.11) is different from Windows 95 (discussed shortly), which is not just an operating environment but a true operating system.
Microsoft's Windows 3.X is designed to run on IBM-style microcomputers with Intel microprocessors—the '386 and '486 chips. Earlier versions of Windows could not make full use of '386 and '486 chips, but later versions can. To effectively use Windows 3.X, one should have a reasonably powerful microcomputer system. This would include a '386 microprocessor or better, much more main memory than is required for DOS (a minimum of 4 megabytes), and a hard-disk drive
Microsoft released Windows 3.0 (the first really useful version) in May 1990 and promoted it as a way for frustrated DOS users not to have to switch to more user-friendly operating systems, such as Macintosh. Indeed, Windows has about 80% of the Macintosh features. Although Windows is far easier to use than DOS, its earlier versions have not been as easy to use as the Mac operating system. This is because Windows sat atop the 11-year-old command-driven DOS operating system, which required certain compromises on ease of use. Indeed, the system had something of a split personality. In handling files, for example, after passing through the Macintosh-style display of icons the user had to deal with the DOS file structures beneath. In addition, many users complained that installing peripherals, such as a hard-disk drive, was somewhat difficult with DOS and Windows.
Date: 2015-04-20; view: 278