Windows 95

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Windows 95

Windows 95 was Microsoft first consumer hybrid 32bit OS. While many of its internals were 16 bit, and a significant amount of it was based on the older Windows 3.1, Windows 95's capabilities surpassed those of say Windows 3.1 with Win32s.

Windows 95 also revolutionized the PC interface by switching from the program manager, to the explorer desktop shell. While it wasn't an object desktop like OS/2's presentation manager, it was a good enough facsimile. Windows 95 was significantly easier for first time users to operate, and it was wildly popular for the UI alone.

Windows 95 was able to execute threads, shipped with TCP/IP, and IPX/SPX stack for Novell Netware, and had a variety of 32bit drivers. However for compatibility it could 'fall back' and use various 16 device drivers.

Windows 95 was limited to the FAT 16 filesytem, so partitions could not go beyond 2 gigabytes. At the time Windows 95 shipped this was not an issue however late into the Windows 95 life cycle this started to become an issue, that was resolved with FAT 32 in Windows 98.

Microsoft also started to sell addons for it's consumer operating systems starting with the Plus Pack! that included Internet Explorer and various system enhancers in the form of better disk compression, a system agent (think of cron) and themes.

It is worth noting that this was the most significant upgrade ever delivered into the PC market place. The transition of going from the 16 bit environment of Windows 3.1, to a 32bit environment has allowed for a far greater user experience. This is because of the combination of faster CPUs and larger memory spaces.