Windows 95

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The Windows 95 upgrade package.

Windows 95 is a computer operating system developed by Microsoft for personal computers and a version of the Windows line of operating systems. It was released on 1995-08-24, received its final feature update on 1997-11-26, and security updates ended on 2001-12-31. This was the first true OS for Windows, previous versions were operating environments, although it still required MS-DOS as a boot-strapper. Technical improvements included switching from a cooperatively multitasked 16-bit architecture to a 32-bit preemptive multitasking architecture, improving the support of plug-and-play hardware, and expanding the usability of the graphical user interface. The OS was eventually replaced by Windows 98.


My family was late in upgrading our computer, so I watched most of my friends upgrade to Windows 95 long before I had it in my home. I remember a lot of the hype around the launch, and watching the music video of Weezer's Buddy Holly. Although I was still very much a fan of MS-DOS, and didn't see what all the fuss was about when it came to Windows 95, when my family did get a new computer with Windows 95 loaded on it, it didn't take me very long to grow an appreciation for it. In 2020, about two decades since I had last used Windows 95, I installed it in Virtual Box to try out some old software, and was shocked to see just how weak the OS really was. The gradual upgrade to 98, ME, 2K, XP, etc. caused me to forget how little there was available in Windows 95.


Version Released Notes
Chicago 1993-11-?? Early interactive demos of the OS. Lots of different builds.
95 Demo 1995-06-07 Later non-interactive demo on a single floppy.
RTM 1995-08-23 First official release to manufacturer version sold in stores. Sold on floppy and CD-ROM. Several versions, lots of languages.
OSR 1 1995-12-29 Minors updates. Sent to OEMs, and could be downloaded from Microsoft.
OSR 2 1996-08-22 Uses MS-DOS 7.1, adds FAT32 support, bundles IE 3, and Personal Web Server.
OSR 2.1 1997-??-?? Adds USB support.
OSR 2.5 1997-11-16 Bundles IE 4 and the webby desktop.