TIME technology

It Took Microsoft 3 Tries Before Windows Was Successful

Microsoft Windows 1.0
Microsoft Windows 1.0 AP

Windows 1.0 wasn't exactly a huge win — even with Microsoft Paint helping out

The first version of Microsoft Windows will be knocking on the door of its third decade Thursday when it turns the ripe old age of 29 — well past retirement in software years, given that Microsoft officially put it out to pasture in December of 2001. Still, looking back at Windows 1.0 offers exactly what its name implies: A window into how things used to be, and, in a way, how little has changed.

First announced in 1983, Microsoft Windows 1.0 wouldn’t make it to the consumer market for another two years — making it one of the first pieces of software to be dismissed as “vaporware,” a term actually coined by a Microsoft engineer a year before the Windows announcement, as a disparaging title bestowed upon a product that’s announced but never sees the light of day.

Windows 1.0’s big selling point was its Graphical User Interface (GUI), intended to replace MS-DOS-style command prompts (C:/DOS/RUN) with a computing style that looked much more like the multitasking, mouse-click-based computing most of us use today. It also came with software intended to show off its new graphical computing environment with what we’d now call “apps” like “Calendar,” “Clock,” and yes, of course, “Paint.”

Windows wasn’t the first operating system with a GUI as its primary feature. Microsoft rival Apple, for example, beat Windows to that punch by about a year when its Macintosh hit the market in 1984, and other “desktop”-style graphical interfaces were floating around before that. (Late Apple CEO Steve Jobs is said to have gotten a nudge towards the Apple desktop interface after visiting a Xerox facility in 1979.) But Windows 1.0 was marketed as an upgrade for people already running MS-DOS — and, in fact, it ran on top of MS-DOS, so anybody who wanted Windows had to have MS-DOS installed first.

So did Windows 1.0 fly off the shelves? Not exactly. Early reviews panned the product for running far too slowly — not the last time the tech press has made that particular critique. The New York Times wrote that “running Windows on a PC with 512K of memory is akin to pouring molasses in the Arctic.” Many reviews said the speed slowdown only got worse when users ran more than one application at a time — an ability that had been intended as a primary draw. And that weird mouse thing Microsoft insisted Windows users embrace? Lots of people hated it.

Despite those early hiccups, Microsoft didn’t just give up and close Windows — a smart move, given that computers running Windows operating systems now make up about 90% of the market. But not even Windows 2.0, released in 1987, set Windows on its path to world dominance. That spark didn’t come until Windows 3.0, released in 1990 to critical acclaim and widespread adoption, thanks to a redesigned interface and speed improvements. As TIME put it in the June 4 issue of that year, “Microsoft seems to have got it right this time.”

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: November 14

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Superfast quantum computers could drastically change the future, and Microsoft might build the first one.

By Tom Simonite in MIT Technology Review

2. Water-smart urban design can reimagine life in Western cities suffering the worst drought in decades.

By Reed Karaim in JSTOR Daily

3. The new censorship: How intimidation, mass surveillance, and shrinking resources are making the press less free.

By George Packer in the New Yorker

4. A new approach to housing for families at risk that includes intensive, wrap-around services is showing early success.

By Mary Cunningham, Maeve Gearing, Michael Pergamit, Simone Zhang, Marla McDaniel, Brent Howell at the Urban Institute

5. Our best bet in the fight against Boko Haram might be sharing lessons on intelligence gathering.

By Jesse Sloman at Africa in Transition

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME technology

4 Things You Might Not Have Known About the World Wide Web’s Inventor

Tim Berners-Lee
Tim Berners-Lee at The Royal Society in London on Sept. 28, 2010 Carl Court—AFP/Getty Images

Tim Berners-Lee proposed the idea on Nov. 12, 1990

If you’ve ever used a hyperlink — a bit of typically underlined online text like this that, when clicked, helpfully takes you to another website or document — you should thank Sir Tim Berners-Lee, a Briton who on this date 24 years ago first proposed an idea he called at the time “WorldWideWeb.”

“HyperText is a way to link and access information of various kinds as a web of nodes in which the user can browse at will,” Berners-Lee and Belgian computer scientist Robert Cailliau wrote in the Nov. 12, 1990, proposal for what would become the World Wide Web.

The Web has since become such a dominant means of sharing information over the Internet that many people don’t know there’s a difference between the two. (That difference? The Internet is a network of networks, a way for a handful of computers connected to one another to share data with billions of other such networks worldwide, while the Web is a hypertext-based information-sharing system that runs atop the Internet, literally and figuratively linking websites to one another.)

It took TIME seven years after Berners-Lee first proposed the web to write a profile of him. Here are four fun facts from that May 19, 1997, piece:

1. He credits his status as “inventor of the World Wide Web” to random chance. “I happened to be in the right place at the right time, and I happened to have the right combination of background,” Berners-Lee said of the reasons he wrote the proposal, which he made while working at Switzerland’s CERN nuclear research facility and trying to connect the organization’s resources.

2. Those 404 “Website Not Found” pages are a necessary evil. Earlier hypertext arrangements kept a record of every single link in the system to avoid “dangling links” — links pointing to nothing. But creating the Web at scale meant users would have to be able to delete documents without telling every single other user about the deletion, even if that document was being linked to from elsewhere. Berners-Lee “realized that this dangling-link thing may be a problem, but you have to accept it.”

3. He also hated how hard it once was to write on the Web. “The Web . . . is this thing where you click around to read,” Berners-Lee said, but if you want to write, “you have to go through this procedure.” That’s much less true now in 2014, with services like WordPress, Blogspot and social media making it dead simple to share your writing and other creativity online.

4. He played with the idea of starting a company to make a browser, a move that would’ve set him up to compete with the likes of Mosaic and perhaps make him rich. But he feared sparking a war between incompatible browsers and permanently dividing the web. “The world is full of moments when one might be other things,” Berners-Lee said. “One is the decisions one’s taken.” Meanwhile, Marc Andreessen, coauthor of the Mosaic browser, later cofounded Netscape and has since become a wealthy and outspoken tech investor.

TIME Gadgets

One of Apple’s First Computers Just Sold for $905,000

The Apple 1 was a rickety device that couldn't do much, but it sparked a revolution in home computing

One of Apple’s first-ever computers, the Apple 1, sold for $905,000 at an auction in New York City on Wednesday, roughly twice as much its expected price tag.

The Henry Ford organization bought the computer and plans to display the computer at its museum in Michigan, according to Reuters.

The computing relic was designed by Steve Wozniak in 1975 when the Apple co-founder wrote code by hand and fit together cut-rate parts onto a motherboard. “It was the first time in history,” Wozniak has said, “anyone had typed a character on a keyboard and seen it show up on their own computer’s screen right in front of them.”

The auctioned off Apple 1 was functioning as of last month, and can still run very basic commands. It’s believed to be part of the first batch of 50 units assembled in Jobs’ family garage. It contains a circuit board with four rows and 18 columns, a keyboard interface, 8K bytes of RAM and comes with a keyboard and a monitor.

Only 63 surviving authentic Apple 1’s were listed in an Apple 1 Registry as of January out of the 200 that were built. The model up for auction is one of 15 believed to still have working motherboards.

TIME Computers

Hands On: Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro and ThinkPad Yoga 14

Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro K.T. Bradford / Techlicious

Two years ago, when Lenovo first debuted the IdeaPad Yoga 13, it was one of the most exciting 2-in-1 hybrids to herald the coming of Windows 8. Though the operating system still has people cringing, the hardware remains innovative and useful and has improved with each generation.

No surprise then that the two new Yogas, the Yoga 3 Pro and the ThinkPad Yoga 14, are pretty impressive. With the Yoga 3 Pro, Lenovo redesigned and improved upon the hinge mechanism. The ThinkPad takes a cue from the Carbon X1 design, fitting a 14-inch screen into a 13-inch body and adds discrete graphics to boot.

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 K.T. Bradford / Techlicious

When most people think of ThinkPads, they envision boxy business machines that embody durability but don’t always have the most eye-catching designs. Over the past few years, Lenovo has worked to change that perception, and laptops like the Yoga 14 are the result. You’ll still get the durability features such as a magnesium alloy frame, and of course that great ThinkPad keyboard. However, the design is slim, sleek, and attractive. At 4.1 pounds it’s not feather-light, but it’s still light enough for ultra portability.

Another reason to take a look at this model over the Yoga 3 Pro is that the ThinkPad has the Lift and Lock keyboard. As you bend it around past 180 degrees, the keyboard not only shuts off, but the deck of the laptop rises up so the keys are flush with it. This helps to keep the keys from popping off when you’re in tablet mode.

On top of that, this is a very powerful machine for being so thin and light: 4th generation Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, NVIDIA Geforce 840M graphics, and a 1TB hard drive with a 16GB SSD cache for speedier wake and overall performance of the operating system.

The 14-inch touchscreen has a full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution and is bright, colorful, yet not too reflective or prone to glare. Wide viewing angles mean you aren’t confined to one sweet spot for viewing images and video — important for a multi-mode 2-in-1. In my hands-on time, I noted how responsive it is to touch and that there’s not too much bounce in the hinge. The keyboard isn’t as deep as some ThinkPads, but felt great to type on. The large touchpad is also very responsive and didn’t make me feel like I would always need to reach up and touch the screen.

If you need powerful performance as much as you need versatility, this ThinkPad may be the Yoga for you. And at $1,199, the price isn’t bad, either.

However, the 4.1 pound weight is a little above the ultrabook weights that many people are used to. The Yoga 3 Pro ($1,349) is only 2.62 pounds and half an inch thick. That’s not even the best part of the new design.

lenovo-yoga3-pro-hinge
K.T. Bradford / Techlicious

In order to make the laptop thinner, Lenovo redesigned the hinge from the ground up. The inspiration came from watchbands, and it features six points of articulation. Once you put it at an angle, the hinge stays. Yet it’s also just as easy to move the screen and keyboard deck as before.

Check out our hands-on below:

The Yoga 3 Pro doesn’t have the Lift and Lock mechanism that the Thinkpad does, so exposed keys are still a bit of a problem. Other than that, the design looks and feels really good. With convertibles, the large screen size can make using it as a tablet a little unwieldy. That’s less of an issue when the entire machine is this thin and light.

Inside, an Intel Core M-70 processor (made for ultrathin systems) runs the show, backed by 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and integrated graphics to support the 3200 x 1800 resolution touchscreen. This model comes with two USB 3.0 ports and an extra USB 2.0 port that also doubles as the power port. A clever way to include an extra USB slot without adding bulk.

Both of the new Yoga 2-in-1 laptops have several things that make it easy to recommend them, so it mostly comes down to a choice between more power and durability or lighter weight and a higher-resolution display. Either way, both models will be available by the end of October.

This article was written by K.T. Bradford and originally appeared on Techlicious.

More from Techlicious:

TIME gender

Microsoft’s Leadership Is Less Than 20% Female

Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Officer Satya NadellaSpeaks At Company Event
Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp., speaks to students during the Microsoft Talent India conference in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

The company released diversity numbers just days before CEO Satya Nadella was lambasted for dissuaded women from asking for raises

Microsoft’s leadership is only 17.3% female, according to diversity numbers the company released Oct. 3, while women make up less than 30% of the entire company as a whole.

Those numbers are coming under new scrutiny after Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was the target of severe backlash Thursday night after he suggested women should rely on “good karma” for promotions instead of directly asking for a raise.

“It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise,” Nadella said at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing on Thursday. “That might be one of the initial ‘super powers’ that, quite frankly, women [who] don’t ask for a raise have. . . . It’s good karma. It will come back.”

Nadella apologized hours later in a tweet and a longer email to Microsoft staff, saying the comment was “inarticulate.”

According to the diversity numbers, women make up almost 45% of the non-tech jobs at Microsoft, but only 17% of the tech positions.

MORE: Microsoft’s CEO Tells Women It’s Bad Karma to Ask For a Raise

 

TIME Gadgets

SanDisk 512GB Memory Card: Big Storage, Big Price

sd-sdextremePRO-512g
SanDisk

SanDisk has announced a memory card with roughly half a terabyte of storage. If you’re reading this on a laptop, that might be as large or larger than your entire hard drive. If you’re reading this on a phone, it’s definitely larger than your phone’s entire storage — probably at least 10x as much. SanDisk touts the card as “the world’s highest-capacity SD card on the market.”

The “SanDisk Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-I Memory Card 512GB” — just rolls right off the tongue, no? — carries a retail price of $800 and is targeted at professional photographers and videographers. If you’ve got $800 to burn and need a significant storage bump for your computer, though, this could do the trick. (It won’t work in smartphones: this is a full-size card, not a microSD card.)

Adorama has it for $729 with an estimated late-September ship date. B&H also has it for $729 but the ship date isn’t until mid-October.

[SanDisk]

TIME Companies

A Look Back at Apple’s 6 Biggest Product Releases

In anticipation of the iPhone 6, here are Apple's finest moments introducing the world to products that would change it forever

On Sept. 9, tech giant Apple will at long last unveil its newest gadget, the highly anticipated iPhone 6. The company has plenty of experience in building up hype and then pulling off a presentation that convinces the crowd they’re watching the future unfurl before their very eyes. Go back through the years, starting in 1977 with a young Steve Jobs ushering in affordable personal computing with the Apple II, to his successors showing off cutting edge computers that fit in your pocket with the latest iPhones. Whether it’s convincing a West Coast Computer Faire crowd that floppy disks and the mouse are worthwhile ideas, or presenting a button-sized professional-grade camera, Apple’s releases never disappoint.

Correction: This post incorrectly reported the Apple II was introduced in 1984 at Harvard University. The Apple II was unveiled in 1977 at the West Coast Computer Faire.

TIME Big Picture

If the World Was a Village: Tech Edition

Earlier in the year I wrote an article called Computing’s S-Curve. We are on the path to connecting the planet via pocket computers. This is so incredibly significant that it’s difficult to overstate.

In many of the presentations we give at Creative Strategies, we emphasize that we are still early in the technology age. We point out that the first 25 years of computing were focused on bringing computers to business. The next 25-plus years will be focused on bringing computers to every person on the planet. Much of this is driven by Moore’s Law.

When presenting to more PC-focused audiences, this is a favorite slide for emphasizing the role Moore’s Law plays in bringing computing to the masses:

chart1
Ben Bajarin / Creative Strategies

We still have a long way to go but as Benedict Evans points out, this opportunity to connect the planet is hugely beneficial from humanity’s standpoint.

So where are we when it comes to connecting the planet today? Using a range of statistics I gathered, I made a chart showing a few of my favorite data points, asking, “If the world was a village of 100 people, how many would be using what technology?”

Ben Bajarin / Techpinions

What strikes me about these statistics is that only one of them is over 50%. The mobile phone (not smartphone) is in use by 63% of the global population. Many of these mobile phone users have multiple subscriptions, which is why the latest data from the ITU pegs total mobile subscriptions at nearly 7 billion.

What makes mobile phones — with 63% percent of the global population owning one — interesting is that by 2020, those will all be smartphones. To help drive that transition, we now have smartphones that cost $33 and we will have $10 smartphones by 2020.

Yet, we still have a long way to go. I made this chart using some new data from the TNS Connected Life survey:

Ben Bajarin / Creative Strategies

This chart shows the percentage of smartphone users and non-smartphone users in each of these large global markets. I’ve added their respective population as well in order to see the opportunity for growth and scale.

As we embrace this shift, we realize how valuable these mobile phones are, particularly to those in emerging markets. Internet-connected mobile phones have given rise to the WeChat businesses, Instagram businesses, Facebook businesses and more. People like to argue that you need a PC to do work. Tens of millions of consumers (and growing) in emerging markets prove this wrong every day.

As we empower billions of new consumers with pocket computers ubiquitously connected to the Internet, it is bound to have an impact on the economies of these emerging markets. Economists estimate that bringing connectivity to a market can increase the GDP of that region anywhere from 1-3%.

The Internet has been one of the most critical and disruptive inventions of our era. Bringing the Internet to nearly everyone on the planet may be even more disruptive when all is said and done.

Connecting the Planet, Reshaping Industries

Mobile’s impact will be widespread. Note this chart from Chetan Sharma Consulting.

There are 14 global trillion-dollar industries; mobile has the potential to invade, change and impact them all. In this white paper, Chetan argues that we are entering a new era of connected intelligence. He is correct, and it will be driven by two fundamentals: the connecting of the planet via mobile devices and the connecting of nearly everything else to the Internet.

When we state that the technology industry’s best days are ahead, it is for the above reasons and more. While we explain that the next 25-plus years will be focused on bringing computing to the masses, the next 50-plus years will be spent bringing computing to nearly everything.

This article was written by Ben Bajarin and originally appeared on Techpinions. Bajarin is a principal at Creative Strategies Inc., a technology industry analysis and market-intelligence firm in Silicon Valley. He contributes to the Big Picture opinion column that appears here every week.

TIME Computers

Acer Chromebook 13 Impresses with Long Battery, Spacious Screen

Acer’s Chromebook 13 is arguably the best Chromebook for the money right now.

For $300, you get a 13-inch high-resolution screen — it’s 1080p in a sea of Chromebooks with 720p screens — and battery life that can hit 10 hours before needing to be recharged. Those are the two biggest selling points.

Battery life is real-deal here. I’ve been using the Chromebook 13 off and on as a secondary machine for the past week and have recharged it twice. I even took it with me on a four-day weekend and left the charger at home. The feeling was equal parts exhilarating and anxious, like riding an edible roller coaster made largely of ice cream sandwiches. If you’re doing basic stuff, you’ll probably be able to squeeze 10 hours out of this thing. If you’re hammering on it, expect about eight. Acer promises up to 11 hours, so hitting anywhere in the 8-10 range is pretty good.

The 1920×1080 screen is uncommon in a $300 machine and it’s a big selling point on its own, but don’t expect to be blown away. Viewing angles leave a bit to be desired and the matte panel — though pretty good outdoors — makes everything look somewhat lifeless. I kept wanting the screen to be great, but that burning desire kept getting quietly and fairly snuffed out by the $300 price tag.

What you’re getting from the screen, basically, is more space on the dance floor. Here’s a 72op Chromebook (on the left) up against the Chromebook 13’s 1080p screen:

720vs1080
Doug Aamoth / TIME

The trackpad and keyboard are both hits in their own right, too. The trackpad especially: it’s buttery-smooth for two-finger scrolling, rivaling the gold-standard MacBook trackpads. The island keyboard is plenty spacious, with the keys having Goldilocks-like travel: not too shallow, not too deep. Each keypress elicits a satisfying thump.

Under the hood, Acer’s installed a mobile-ish Nvidia Tegra chip, the first of its kind in this type of machine. The promise is great horsepower with minimal tradeoff to the battery. Battery life is a definite win here, though I’d say horsepower merely falls into the “good enough” to “pretty good” range depending what you’re trying to do. Chromebooks are appealing as secondary computers for people who use computers a lot or as basic computers for people who need something for browsing the web. If you’re looking for either of those things with this machine, you won’t be disappointed; if you want to use this as your primary computer and you’re going to load up a bunch of browser tabs, you might want to consider dropping an extra $80 for the next model up — which features double the RAM and double the storage — or spend a bit more for a mid-range PC.

And like any $300 computer, build quality isn’t going to be anything spectacular. The Chromebook 13 is Acer’s most solidly-built and best-looking Chromebook yet, though it’s still ensconced in white, smudge-magnet plastic and there’s a meaningful bezel surrounding the screen. The machine travels light, though, at 3.3 pounds and shares a similar length-and-width profile as a 13-inch MacBook Air, with a thickness of 0.7 inches:

CB13vsMBA
Doug Aamoth / TIME

Various quibbles aside, Acer’s Chromebook 13 has it where it counts: long battery, high-resolution screen, great trackpad, great keyboard and a very manageable travel size. The processor holds it back ever so slightly, but the day-long battery life should easily counterbalance that for most people.

Couple quick notes before we wrap up:

  • Toshiba’s got an impressive 13-incher launching in early October. For $30 more, you get an Intel processor, double the RAM and a 1080p IPS screen that ought to look better than the Acer’s matte display. Battery life for the Toshiba will be shorter though, with the company promising up to nine hours — which will likely mean around 7-8 hours in the real world. And Acer’s known to cut prices pretty aggressively when needed. The Chromebook 13 is still a safe buy right now, but if you’re looking for a little more horsepower, a better screen and are willing to give up a few hours of battery, it might be worth it to wait to compare the two once they’re both on the market.
  • There’s a $280 version of this Acer Chromebook that features a 720p screen and up to 13 hours of battery life. I’d argue that the extra $20 for the 1080p screen is absolutely worth it, but if you’re looking to squeeze every last minute out of your laptop battery, the $280 model is worth a look.
  • There’s a $300 version with 4GB of RAM (the regular version has 2GB) available at select retailers. That should be a no-brainer if you frequent one of the establishments listed at the bottom of the product page.

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