The Windows operating system has come a long way since its debut in 1985. Initially, the development acted simply as a graphical interface for MS-DOS, but it became an independent project with its own design and functions. Since then, many different versions of Windows have been released, each offering its own distinct and easy-to-use experience for work and play. Today, most of them are no longer relevant or even ceased to be part of Windows. I propose now to remember some of the loved and popular chips in the past.
Windows 95: 3D Pinball Space Cadet
It’s a timeless classic and arguably one of the best built-in Windows games of all time. 3D Pinball Space Cadet was the perfect entertainment when the internet went down unexpectedly, or it took a long time to download files. Introduced in the Microsoft Plus Add-on Pack for Windows 95 and then pre-installed in later releases up to Windows XP, 3D Pinball Space Cadet was simple, fun, and immersed in a colorful and immersive pinball simulator.
In 3D Pinball Space Cadet, a player’s score was provided. In addition, the game supported competition with friends in the form of sequential sessions – the leaderboard was saved locally on the computer. Microsoft is based on the Full Tilt pinball from Cinematronics. It was released in 1995 by Maxis Software. The arcade was brought to Windows by Microsoft software engineer David Plummer. By the way, he wrote the code for the Windows Task Manager, which is used to this day.
Windows XP turned out to be the last version of Windows to ship the 3D Pinball Space Cadet by default. Subsequent OS versions, including the 64-bit build of Windows XP, lost the pre-installed pinball. The reason is that Microsoft had problems porting the 3D Pinball Space Cadet to 64-bit architecture. The game is currently available online through a browser (using an emulator), or you can try installing a third-party port. It works on Windows 7, Windows 8-8.1, and Windows 10.
Windows ME: Movie Maker
Believe it or not, Microsoft offered a full-featured video editor as part of Windows back in the 2000s. Movie Maker was pretty good for its target audience, allowing you to co-edit home videos and add title cards, text, music, and custom transitions to your footage. The program helped create memorable home videos that were happily shared with friends and family.
Windows Movie Maker first appeared in Windows Millennium Edition in 2000. Later, the updated video editor was preinstalled out of the box on Windows XP and Windows Vista. With the move to Windows 7, Classic Movie Maker evolved into a standalone Live Movie Maker that you could install at will (similar to Windows 8). The solution was iMovie, like Apple, only for Windows users – a simple and free video editor.
Many have asked Microsoft to return Windows Movie Maker, as the built-in editor on Windows 10 was disappointing rather than pleasing in terms of technology. In case you didn’t know, the first YouTube videos were edited with Windows Movie Maker, including step-by-step instructions and screencast demos.
Windows XP: Media Center
Not every OS user needed Windows Media Center, but the omnivorous media combine for a long time was really loved by those who preferred it. The application turned the computer into a single control center for all kinds of digital content – from photos, music, and videos to DVDs and television. It was presented in a special edition of Windows XP under the same name “Media Center Edition”: this version was produced notebooks and desktop PCs focused on media content.
Microsoft implemented Windows Media Center starting with Windows XP and continuing to Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Xbox 360. In 2009, shortly after the release of Windows 7, the company disbanded the development team, which meant no further development and new features. Despite the closure of the media center, the service was kept for Windows 8 and, for some reason, made a paid add-on.
As a result, support for Windows Media Center ended permanently with Windows 10 in 2015. Fun fact: the interface of the then application was an early Metro (Modern UI) concept. In the future, the style began to be used in products such as the Zune (smartphone management software and media player) and Windows Phone (mobile operating system).
Windows Vista: Aero Flip 3D
Windows Vista has implemented Aero Flip 3D – the most beautiful interface among the famous Windows versions for switching between running programs. The Windows + Tab keyboard shortcut menu opened as a 3D carousel with transparent windows. It looked very mesmerizing.
Aero Flip 3D is simple to the point, but it was a pleasure to use it literally every time. Windows has never had a cooler animation for switching between open windows. In the days of Windows Vista, this interface and the skeuomorphic effect of transparency seemed like something futuristic and visually alive. Interacting with Aero Flip 3D was a delight. The successful design continued to be used in Windows 7 and was dropped in Windows 8 a few years later when Microsoft unexpectedly switched to a flat interface with tiled elements.
Windows 7: Better Start Menu
The Windows 7 Start Menu is the top contender for the best Start Menu Microsoft has ever created. The design was minimalist, elegant, logical in a good way, and found a place for integrated search, allowing simultaneous search queries on the Internet. Searching in Windows XP and previous versions of Windows is just awful, but the Windows 7 Start menu has brought it to a near-perfect balance between simplicity and quick access in just two clicks.
The happiness with a redesigned and intuitive Start menu didn’t last long, as Microsoft later ditched it entirely in favor of the full-screen Windows 8 start bar. The overhaul relied heavily on touch controls, so it looked downright silly on traditional keyboard and mouse computers. In the end, the criticism that fell towards Microsoft was justified. They listened to the opinion of users – the recognizable “Start” returned to Windows 10, although it received a redesigned structure. For example, tiles from Windows 8 were added there, and the search was moved to the taskbar.