The Operating System Microsoft History Timeline: Releases of Hardware and Software

  • 1972-The First Company

    1972-The First Company
    In 1972, Bill Gates and Paul Allen first created Traf-O-Data, which sold a rudimentary computer to track and analyze automobile traffic data. This product only existed until 1975.
  • Period: to

    The Very Beginning of the Founding of Microsoft

    Childhood friends Bill Gates and Paul Allen sought to make a business using their skills in computer programming.
  • 1975-Creation of Microsoft

    1975-Creation of Microsoft
    As a result of Microsoft's founding, Traf-O-Data became defunct. They released their first product called the Altair BASIC. A new hobby is being explored in garages across America: microcomputers. These early personal computers are not much more than kit-assembled metal boxes that perform basic math and a few simple games. Inspired by an article about the Altair 8800 computer from MITS, the two develop the first microcomputer programming language, Altair BASIC, and begin a revolutionary journey.
  • 1976-First Microsoft Office

    1976-First Microsoft Office
    Microsoft rents its first office in an Albuquerque, New Mexico office building.
  • 1978-First International Office

    1978-First International Office
    The company's first international office was in Japan, entitled "ASCII Microsoft" (now called "Microsoft Japan").
  • 1979-New Location

    1979-New Location
    At the end of this year, Microsoft packs up its headquarters for the move to Bellevue, Washington and year end sales exceed $1 million.
  • 1980-Microsoft Formed it's Consumer Products Division

    1980-Microsoft Formed it's Consumer Products Division
    Adapting software like Adventure, Typing Tutor and Olympic Decathlon for various microcomputers like the TRS-80. Microsoft also signs a contract with IBM to develop an operating system for IBM's first personal computer. This was the beginning for both the Bundling of Microsoft Windows, and Wintelism, as IBM personal computers and Intel were also bundled with each other.
  • The Production of the Apple II RAMCard

    The Production of the Apple II RAMCard
    An accessory card for its Z80 SoftCard. The RAMCard plugged into one of an Apple II's free slots and provided 16KB of additional system memory (brining the total to 56KB) for CP/M programs running on the SoftCard. Certain traditional Apple II programs like VisiCalc could also utilize the extra RAM if specifically programmed to do so.
  • The Launch of the Microsoft SoftCard

    The Launch of the Microsoft SoftCard
    A plug-in card for the Apple II PC. The card contained a Zilog Z80 CPU that allowed the Apple II to run the popular CP/M disk operating system and software written to work with it. The Z80-CP/M platform was the closest thing to a Wintel-like standard in PCs at the time. The SoftCard sold well and became Microsoft's most well-known hardware product until it introduced its mouse two years later. However, it did mark the very beginning of Microsoft's involvement in hardware.
  • Release of MS-DOS: The first Microsoft Operating system introduced on the IBM Personal Computer.

    Release of MS-DOS: The first Microsoft Operating system introduced on the IBM Personal Computer.
    It supported the x86 platform computer and was not discontinued until Sept 2000. IBM announced the release of the IBM PC. As DOS was the only operating system available on the PC when it was introduced in New York City, this paves way to the future domination by the MS-DOS operating system. IBM ships its new PC running MS-DOS, Microsoft Basic and Microsoft Cobol, and other software is also available, which becomes the new standard for the industry.
  • 1982-Microsoft RAMCard for IBM PC

    1982-Microsoft RAMCard for IBM PC
    When plugged into a PC, it served as both a general memory expansion and a solid state RAM disk. When coupled with Microsoft's RAMDrive software, the card emulated a traditional disk drive that operated at a much faster speed (50 times faster, according to the ad) due to its solid state nature. The RAMCard for IBM PC was available in sizes from 64KB to 256KB—not too bad at a time when the typical IBM PC floppy disk held 360KB.
  • 1982-Microsoft Flight Simulator version 1.0 released

    1982-Microsoft Flight Simulator version 1.0 released
    This marks the beginning of one of the longest-running PC video game series of all time.
  • 1983-Microsoft Word launches

    1983-Microsoft Word launches
    Microsoft announces Multi-Tool Word, which later becomes Microsoft Word. Microsoft enters the business productivity category with Multiplan which happens to work with the new Microsoft Mouse released in early 1983.
  • 1983-Microsoft SystemCard: Extended its line of IBM PC upgrade boards

    1983-Microsoft SystemCard: Extended its line of IBM PC upgrade boards
    A multifunction ISA card that saved a user's precious internal slots. With only one card, you could replace the functions of at least four separate plug-in cards and still have six slots free. The SystemCard contained 64KB~256KB of RAM that could serve as a RAM disk. It also included a parallel printer interface, print spooler (queue multiple print jobs to be executed as the printer), RS232 serial port (with a terminal emulator program in ROM), and a real-time calendar/clock chip.
  • 1984-Microsoft launches the PCjr Booster with Mouse

    1984-Microsoft launches the PCjr Booster with Mouse
    A sidecar expansion box that added 192KB of RAM and a Microsoft mouse interface an IBM PCjr system. As the product's name implies, it also included an actual Microsoft mouse to use with the expansion box. With the PCjr booster, an IBM PCjr would have 256KB of RAM, allowing it to use significantly more powerful programs than would otherwise run in the PCjr's limited 64KB memory.
  • 1984-Microsoft incorporated in Apple's Macintosh Computer

    1984-Microsoft incorporated in Apple's Macintosh Computer
    The graphical user interface (GUI) begins to take hold when Apple releases its Macintosh computer, and Microsoft ships several applications for it as a key partner at release time.
  • 1985-Microsoft MacEnahncer

    1985-Microsoft MacEnahncer
    Microsoft was a big supporter of the Macintosh platform throughout the 1980s. As a part of that support, Microsoft released a very useful expansion peripheral, the MacEnhancer, which plugged into a Mac's modem or printer port and added one IBM PC-compatible parallel port and two IBM PC-compatible serial ports. With the MacEnhancer and its custom software, Mac users could utilize many printers, modems, and accessories designed for the IBM PC.
  • 1985-Microsoft Excel

    1985-Microsoft Excel
    Microsoft releases Microsoft Excel, which would compete with, and later overtake, Lotus 1-2-3.
  • 1985-Windows 1.0 GUI launched

    1985-Windows 1.0 GUI launched
    The first version of its Windows operating system hits the market, Windows 1.0, which was a program environment that runs on top of MS-DOS and had a primitive GUI. It featured a word processor, calendar, and painting options.
  • 1986-Microsoft announced a new mouse input interface called InPort

    1986-Microsoft announced a new mouse input interface called InPort
    The interface specified a custom, Microsoft-designed integrated circuit (the InPort Graphics Input Chip) and a new, compact 9-pin connector. Microsoft created the new interface as a way to free up system serial ports (commonly used with serial mice) and to create less expensive mice, since the Microsoft's InPort chip offloaded much of the interface's intelligence onto the PC end. Microsoft announced a new mouse input interface called InPort.
  • 1986-Microsoft Mach 10

    1986-Microsoft Mach 10
    Microsoft found that a majority of IBM PCs in users hands were not powerful enough to run it smoothly. That led to the creation of the Mach 10 accelerator board, which nearly doubled the speed of IBM PC and PC XT computers with 4.77-MHz 8088 CPUs. The Mach 10 included a 9.54-MHz 8086 CPU and a Microsoft InPort mouse interface on one plug-in card. It provided an impressive increase in speed for original PC owners at a time when the next step up, an IBM PC AT, cost quite a bit of money.
  • 1987-Microsoft announces OS/2.

    1987-Microsoft announces OS/2.
    The name stands for "Operating System/2" because it was introduced as part of the same generation change release as IBM's "Personal System/2 (PS/2)" line of second-generation personal computers.
  • 1987-Microsoft releases Windows 2.0

    1987-Microsoft releases Windows 2.0
    A 16-bit Microsoft Windows GUI-based operating environment and the successor to Windows 1.0. Windows 2.0 allowed application windows to overlap each other, unlike its predecessor Windows 1.0, which could display only tiled windows. Windows 2.0 also introduced more sophisticated keyboard-shortcuts and the terminology of "Minimize" and "Maximize", as opposed to "Iconize" and "Zoom" in Windows 1.0.
  • 1990-Microsoft launches Windows 3.0

    1990-Microsoft launches Windows 3.0
    The third major release of Microsoft Windows. It was the first widely successful version of windows and created competition for Apple Macintosh on the GUI front. It allowed for users to multitask much easier by offering increased virtual memory, and included improved graphics. The free and addicting game of solitaire along with other games were introduced to teach and familiarize the window users with the drag and drop feature.
  • 1990-Microsoft releases Microsoft Office

    1990-Microsoft releases Microsoft Office
    The first version of Microsoft Office, Office 1.0. It contained a bundle of programs that are still popular today. These programs include: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
  • 1993-Microsoft releases Encarta

    1993-Microsoft releases Encarta
    The first digital multimedia encyclopedia. Encarta's standard edition includes approximately 50,000 articles, with additional images, videos and sounds. The premium editions contain over 62,000 articles and other multimedia content, such as 25,000 pictures and illustrations, over 300 videos and animations, and an interactive atlas with 1.8 million locations.
  • 1993-Microsoft Windows NT

    1993-Microsoft Windows NT
    Windows NT was an operating system designed and released by Microsoft in 1993. It was a powerful high-level-language-based, processor-independent, multiprocessing, multiuser operating system. It was designed to be a more user friendly version of MS-DOS, but later became a version in and of itself.
  • 1995-Microsoft Windows 95

    1995-Microsoft Windows 95
    An operating environment that integrated the new 32-bit programming capabilities. Windows 95 and Office 95 ship this year in a whirlwind of mainstream publicity. MSN as a Windows 95 option, and Internet explorer 1.0 as part of Windows 95 Plus! Pack. This was the first version of Windows to include Internet Explorer, the company’s preferred way to access the Internet. By October, 7 million units of Windows 95 have sold, and by November, more than 500,000 users have signed up for MSN.
  • 1995-MSNBC

    Microsoft announces partnership with NBC (National Broadcasting Company) to create a new 24-hour cable news television station, MSNBC.
  • 1996-Internet Gaming Zone

    1996-Internet Gaming Zone
    Microsoft launches the Internet Gaming Zone, which would later become the MSN Gaming Zone. It's an Internet-based game site that allows gamers from around the world to come together to play against each other.
  • 1996-Office 97

    1996-Office 97
    Microsoft ships Office 97 and the first version of Exchange Server, acquires FrontPage and Internet Gaming Zone, and launches MSNBC.
  • 1997-Microsoft Visual Studio 97 (Boston)

    1997-Microsoft Visual Studio 97 (Boston)
    Bundled many of its programming tools together for the first time. An integrated development environment from Microsoft. It is used to develop computer programs, as well as websites, web apps, web services and mobile apps.
  • 1998-Windows 98 launched simultaneously in more than 40 countries.

    1998-Windows 98 launched simultaneously in more than 40 countries.
    Half way through 1998, Microsoft released Windows 98. This operating system was the successor of Windows 95. Windows 98 operating system was a focus on the internet and online capabilities that a computer could have. It also featured support for a new technology-a more robust USB support system, many people didn’t really use since floppy disks were still popular.
  • 1999-Microsoft releases MSN Messenger

    1999-Microsoft releases MSN Messenger
    MSN Messenger, later rebranded as Windows Live Messenger, is a discontinued cross-platform instant-messaging client developed by Microsoft. It connected to the Microsoft Messenger service and, in later versions, was compatible with Yahoo! Messenger and Facebook Messenger.
  • 1999-Internet Explorer 5.0

    1999-Internet Explorer 5.0
    Launches with more than one million downloads in the first week. Office 2000 is also released and mediation begins in the antitrust suit filed a year before.
  • 2000-Microsoft Windows 2000

    2000-Microsoft Windows 2000
    It was an operating system used by both client and server computers. This version was used to improve the device manager program, Windows Media Player, and DirectX.
  • 2000-Windows ME

    2000-Windows ME
    It has improved support for digital media. Windows ME was the last version of Windows that was based on the Windows 95 kernel. Designed for home users and backward compatible with Windows 98, it had updated shell features as well as an updated graphical user interface.
  • 2001-Microsoft Windows XP

    2001-Microsoft Windows XP
    A little over a year after the success of Windows 2000, Microsoft released its next operating system, Windows XP. The name XP is short for eXPerience. Microsoft Windows XP focused on highlighting the enhanced user experience. Since its release, Windows XP is the second most used version of Windows.
  • 2001-New Microsoft Xbox Gaming Console Released with a five-game line-up including Halo.

    2001-New Microsoft Xbox Gaming Console Released with a five-game line-up including Halo.
    It was Microsoft’s first attempt at a video game console, and was very successful. It competed against other sixth-generation consoles including the PlayStation 2 and the Dreamcast. In addition, the launch of the Windows XP Operating System and the Office XP office suite.
  • 2002-Microsoft launches .NET initiative

    2002-Microsoft launches .NET initiative
    This creates an entirely new API for Windows programming, and includes a new programming language C#.
  • 2003-Microsoft Office 2003

    2003-Microsoft Office 2003
    Microsoft Office 2003 was a collection of Microsoft software’s that were sold as a bundled product. Office 2003 is one of the most successful Office Packs sold by Microsoft. The pack included: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access.
  • 2005-Microsoft Xbox 360 released

    2005-Microsoft Xbox 360 released
    It competed against consoles like the Nintendo Wii and the Sony PlayStation 3. It was an improvement upon the online capabilities of the original Xbox. Newer versions of the Xbox 360 continue to release around every year.
  • 2007-Microsoft Windows Vista

    2007-Microsoft Windows Vista
    Windows Vista and Office 2007 are released to continue the evolution of both Operating System and office productivity suite. It was released to include an updated graphical user interface and a new visual style. Windows DVD maker and a new search component, called Windows Search, was also included in the release.
  • 2007-Microsoft Onedrive

    2007-Microsoft Onedrive
    Users can upload Microsoft Office documents to OneDrive. OneDrive offers 5 GB of storage space free of charge, with 100 GB, 1 TB, and 6 TB storage options available either separately or with Office 365 subscriptions.
  • 2008-Windows Azure

    2008-Windows Azure
    A cloud computing service operated by Microsoft for application management via Microsoft-managed data centers. It provides a range of cloud services, including compute, analytics, storage and networking.
  • 2009-Search Engine Bing launched

    2009-Search Engine Bing launched
    Microsoft's replacement for Live Search. The Bing homepage includes a new beautiful image daily, information hotspots embedded in the image, popular searches, and links to video, news, shopping, travel, images, entertainment and maps.
  • 2009-Microsoft Windows 7

    2009-Microsoft Windows 7
    Two years after the release of Windows Vista, Microsoft released another operating system, Windows 7. Windows 7 sought to become one of the most successful operating systems of all time. Microsoft introduced a new graphical layout and a cleaner user experience.
  • 2010-Windows Phone 7 released

    2010-Windows Phone 7 released
    Microsoft released their Windows Phone line, with the release of the Windows Phone 7. The phone ran off an updated version of Windows 7. The phone operating system was developed to compete with Apple’s IPhone, although the sales would never rival that of the IPhone’s.
  • 2011-Microsoft buys Skype

    2011-Microsoft buys Skype
    The Microsoft Corporation purchased Skype Communications for $8.5 Billion dollars. This became one of Microsoft’s largest ever acquisition. Microsoft purchased the company so that they could have a great built in way that people could communicate between computers.
  • 2011-Microsoft 365

    2011-Microsoft 365
    Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise includes exclusive intelligent capabilities like Ideas in Excel, Researcher in Word, real-time collaboration, Teams as the hub for teamwork, and advanced security features. As a user-based license, you can deploy Office on up to five PCs or Macs, five tablets, and five mobile devices
  • 2012-Google Drive

    2012-Google Drive
    Google Drive allows users to store files in the cloud (on Google's servers), synchronize files across devices, and share files. In addition to a web interface, Google Drive offers apps with offline capabilities for Windows and macOS computers, and Android and iOS smartphones and tablets.
  • 2012-Microsoft Windows 8

    2012-Microsoft Windows 8
    It was developed to work with both computers and tablets/phones. Windows 8’s main focus was on improving user interface, which was successful because it was the biggest change in Microsoft operating systems to date. This was the first operating system designed by Microsoft to work with both PC’s and Tablets.
  • 2012-Windows Phone 8 released

    2012-Windows Phone 8 released
    Three days after the release of Windows 8, with a new user interface and the first Surface laptop to go with it, Microsoft released their updated Windows Phone. Windows Phone 8 runs off the Windows 8 operating system, which was also designed by Microsoft. The interface is similar to the interface that runs on the PC version, running Windows 8. Microsoft also purchases Yammer, the enterprise social networking service.
  • 2013-Microsoft Office 2013

    2013-Microsoft Office 2013
    Office 2013 includes extended file format support, user interface updates, and support for touch. Microsoft Office 2013 released in five different sets. Each set adds more applications, but is increasingly more expensive.
  • 2014-Microsoft buys Mojang for $2.5B

    2014-Microsoft buys Mojang for $2.5B
    Although Microsoft's own run in the gaming industry has been great, buying Minecraft allowed Microsoft to earn revenues from its own competitors – Sony PlayStation, Nintendo etc. That's something Microsoft could not do with Halo as it's an Xbox exclusive game.
  • 2014-Cortana

    Cortana is a virtual assistant developed by Microsoft which uses the Bing search engine to perform tasks such as setting reminders and answering questions for the user.
  • 2015-Microsoft Edge

    2015-Microsoft Edge
    Microsoft Edge is the browser created for Windows 10; Edge replaces Internet Explorer (IE), the browser that debuted with Windows 95 and was a part of Windows operating systems for the following two decades. Edge is a smaller, more streamlined browser built on Web standards and designed for Web services.
  • 2015-Microsoft releases Windows 10

    2015-Microsoft releases Windows 10
    Describes as its "last operating system" - and which acts as a "universal" application architecture across multiple Microsoft product families.
  • 2015-The release of Windows 10

    2015-The release of Windows 10
    This was built from the ground up to power a cloud-first world. In the Windows Devices event in October, Microsoft announces Surface Book, Surface Pro 4, Band 2 and two Lumia phones with Continuum.
  • 2016-Microsoft HoloLens

    2016-Microsoft HoloLens
    The Hololens is Microsoft's take on augmented reality, which they call “mixed reality”. Using multiple sensors, advanced optics, and holographic processing that melds seamlessly with its environment, These holograms can be used to display information, blend with the real world, or even simulate a virtual world.
  • 2016-Microsoft Dynamics 365

    2016-Microsoft Dynamics 365
    Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a cloud-based business applications platform that combines components of customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP), along with productivity applications and artificial intelligence tools.
  • 2016-Microsoft Teams launched

    2016-Microsoft Teams launched
    As part of Office 365, a new chat-based workspace and cloud-based team collaboration tool.
  • 2017-The Surface Laptop and new Surface Pro become available in 25 markets worldwide

    2017-The Surface Laptop and new Surface Pro become available in 25 markets worldwide
    A Surface-series 2-in-1 detachable hybrid notebook computer, designed, developed, marketed, and produced by Microsoft
  • 2018-Dynamics NAV 2018

    2018-Dynamics NAV 2018
    A complete enterprise resource planning (ERP) software solution for mid-sized organizations that is fast to implement, easy to configure, and simple to use: assists with finance, manufacturing, customer relationship management (CRM), supply chains, analytics, and electronic commerce for small and medium-sized companies and local subsidiaries of large international groups.
  • 2019-Office 2019

    2019-Office 2019
    Office 2019 is available for both Windows and macOS, and includes classic versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. The Windows version also includes Publisher 2019, Access 2019, Project 2019, and Visio 2019.
  • 2020-Surface Book 3

    2020-Surface Book 3
    The 2-in-1 laptop has received a big performance upgrade, starting with Intel's 10th-generation processors and Nvidia GPU options. The 15-inch model has 50% more performance than the Book 2, making it Microsoft's most powerful laptop ever, according to the announcement.
  • 2020-Surface Go 2

    2020-Surface Go 2
    The latest generation of our lightest 2-in-1 to empower your employees. Surface Go 2 has faster multitasking, a larger ( 10.5” touchscreen) and brighter screen, better resolution, portable, in the same compact size, a long battery life designed to keep up with you and your family, and eSIM to help get the job done, wherever employees need to work.
  • 2020-Surface Earbuds

    2020-Surface Earbuds
    The large circular earbuds are tuned for both music and voice performance. Microsoft is including dictation for use with Office apps, and it’s pitching these earbuds at both workers and consumers. Each earbud has two microphones built in, which aid in noise reduction when you’re using them for calls. Both of the earbuds also have touch areas that can be used with tap and swipe gestures to control music or other audio.
  • 2020-Xbox Series X

    2020-Xbox Series X
    Microsoft opted for a tower-cube design that will primarily sit vertically but can be used horizontally. It also has LED at the top. Launched alongside Halo Infinite and includes a custom-designed CPU based on AMD’s Zen 2 and Radeon RDNA architecture. Microsoft is also using an NVMe SSD, which promises to boost load times. Also supports 8K gaming, frame rates of up to 120 fps in games, ray tracing, and variable refresh rate support. “Two times” the GPU performance of the Xbox One X.
  • 2021-Surface Hub 2X

    2021-Surface Hub 2X
    It slots into the back of the Surface Hub 2 to upgrade the GPU and enable up to four of these displays to tile together. This upgrade cartridge holds the processor, RAM, and GPU inside — basically the entire computer, save for storage — so there could be additional upgrades once the cartridge is available.
  • 2021-Microsoft Office 2021

    2021-Microsoft Office 2021
    Office 2021 will be the next standalone version of Microsoft's Office suite, designed for businesses and consumers who want to avoid the subscription version of Office. Office Home and Student 2021 will be priced at $149.99 and include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Microsoft Teams for PC and Mac
  • 2021-Windows 11

    2021-Windows 11
    Windows 11 features a new design with a centered Start menu and Taskbar. Windows 11 brings a brand-new, more Mac-like interface to the OS. It features a clean design with rounded corners and pastel shades. The iconic Start menu also moves to the center of the screen along with the Taskbar.
  • 2021-Surface Duo

    2021-Surface Duo
    Essentially an Android Surface phone with two 5.6-inch displays that fold out into an 8.3-inch overall screen and it’s just 4.8mm thick. Microsoft surprised everyone with the adoption of Android, and the company is working with Google and others to improve the dual-screen experience for devices like Surface Duo.
  • 2022-Surface Neo

    2022-Surface Neo
    One of two new dual-screen devices from Microsoft that are designed to improve mobile productivity. Surface Neo includes two separate 9-inch displays that fold out to a full 13-inch workspace running Windows 10X, a more simplified version that’s designed for dual-screen hardware.