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Reprinted from PC Magazine, November 26th, 1985, pp. 133-134. This is part of a cover story “It’s about time” about productivity solutions.

Microsoft Windows can run as many compatible programs as you can fit on the screen concurrently and features a number of its own programs and utilities.
This image can be zoomedMicrosoft Windows can run as many compatible programs as you can fit on the screen concurrently and features a number of its own programs and utilities.
The Dark Ages are over. This long-awaited DOS extension from Microsoft makes DOS easier and faster to use and provides a consistent graphics environment.

“It took eons to learn.” “What was that command again? – I can never remember.” “I can’t believe how long it takes to move from the spreadsheet to my word processor.” Sound familiar? Like most DOS users, you know what these complaints are all about. Although MS-DOS is an eminent productivity tool (see sidebar, “The Best Productivity Tools of All”), desperate PC users inexperienced at fending off its aggravations are regularly heard crying out for help.

Now help is available for both the weak and the strong: Microsoft Windows, Microsoft’s answer to complaints from new users about hard-to-learn and even-harder-to-remember DOS commands and from old and new users alike about its snaillike pace when moving from application to application. A multifaceted graphic extension for MS-DOS, it’s a productivity tool designed to enhance DOS’s productivity and send your own productivity skyward again.

Undoubtedly influenced by its early work on the Macintosh with Apple, Microsoft has given Windows’ displays a Mac-like look, similar to that of Digital Research’s GEM. With its screen icons and pull-down menus, it helps you use DOS without tears. Windows is a forward-looking product that is more than just a GEM-like graphical facelift for DOS, however.

By building in a sophisticated user interface, software developers can make programs do much more without sacrificing ease of use. That is what Microsoft has done. The Windows interface does a lot of the hard work for the user. It includes multitasking capabilities and gives you sophisticated memory management for all applications. You can switch between your existing, standard MS-DOS applications by choosing a window or selecting a file icon from the bottom of the screen, thus minimizing or eliminating delays when you move, for example, from your spreadsheet to your word processor. Windows also gives you the means to exchange data among certain applications.

Windows offers such built-in basic desktop functions as a calculator, clock, and notepad. It comes with a paint program (which is similar to the much-admired and much-emulated MacPaint) that allows you to create freehand graphics, and it also has a simple text-editing program. These new applications serve as “integrators,” which means that you can paste screen images from any existing MS-DOS application into them.

Since Windows is designed to run any application that runs under MS-DOS, you can benefit by the productivity advantages it offers without giving up your current applications or waiting for new, more expensive, “Windows-compatible” versions. Your old programs will run as they always have, using the original command systems you’ve already learned. Newer programs designed to run with Windows, however, will be able to use some of the Windows pull-down menus and add new options to them, or create their own Windows-like interfaces. Eventually, many applications will use similar interfaces, changing the face of PC Computing. (Incidentally, Windows is, or soon will be, portable to any MS-DOS machine and can address any resolution screen or printer.)

If you’ve ever complained about DOS and envied those more skillful at reaping its inherent productivity bonuses, Windows is just what you need. It makes dealing with DOS a snap and opens up all sorts of new possibilities. Once you try it, unless you’re already a DOS master, you’ll wonder how you ever got along in DOS without it.

For more information, see PC Magazine: Drawing Back the Curtains on Windows Shows Microsoft Has a Clear Edge Volume 4 Number 17, page 37; “Top View: From the Bottom Up,” Volume 4 Number 9, page 110; “Top View Enters the Fray,” Volume 4 Number 9, page 124; “The Top View Phenomenon,” Volume 3 Number 22, page 105; “Opening Windows on MS-DOS," Volume Number 11, page 264.

Diane Burns and S. Venit

Microsoft Windows
Microsoft Corp.
10700 Northrup Way
Bellevue, WA 98009
List Price: $99
Requires: 256K RAM, two disk drives, DOS 2.0 or later.

Page added on 24th August 2005.

Copyright © 2002-2006 Marcin Wichary, unless stated otherwise.