Windows 95

Template:Infobox OS

Windows 95 (codename Chicago) is a hybrid 16-bit/32-bit graphical operating system released on August 24, 1995 by the Microsoft Corporation.

Windows 95 is a direct result of combining Microsoft's formerly separate MS-DOS and Windows products. Windows 95 is the first in that line without support for older, 16-bit x86 processors, thus requiring an Intel 80386 (or compatible) processor running in protected mode. It featured significant improvements to the graphical user interface (GUI) and underlying workings, including desktop and Start Menu, support for 256-character mixed-case long filenames and preemptively-multitasked protected-mode 32-bit applications.

The introduction of 32-bit file access in Windows for Workgroups 3.11 meant that 16-bit real mode MS-DOS was no longer used for managing the files while Windows was running, and the earlier introduction of the 32-bit disk access meant that PC BIOS wasn't used for managing hard disks. This essentially reduced MS-DOS to the role of a boot loader for the protected-mode Windows kernel. DOS could still be used for running old-style drivers for compatibility, but Microsoft discouraged using them, as this prevented proper multitasking and impaired system stability. The Control Panel allowed a user to see what MS-DOS components were still used by the system; optimal performance was achieved when they were all bypassed. The Windows kernel still used MS-DOS style real mode interface calls in the so-called Safe mode, but this mode existed merely to allow a user to fix problems with loading native, protected-mode drivers.

32-bit file access was necessary for the long file names feature introduced with Windows 95 through the use of the VFAT file system (a variant of FAT16). It was available to both Windows programs and MS-DOS programs started from Windows (they had to be adapted slightly, since accessing long file names required using larger pathname buffers and hence different system calls). Competing DOS-compatible operating systems needed an upgrade to be able to see these names. Using older versions of DOS utilities to manipulate files meant that the long names were not visible and would be lost if files were copied or moved around. During a Windows 95 automatic upgrade of an older Windows 3.1 system, DOS and third party disk utilities which could destroy long file names were identified and made unavailable, also Microsoft Anti-Virus for Windows had a tendency to indicate that the upgrade program was itself a computer virus. If the need arose to depend on disk utilities that do not recognise long file names, such as MS-DOS 6.22's defrag utility, a program was provided on the CD-ROM called LFNBACK for backup and restoration of long file names. The program is in the \ADMIN\APPTOOLS\LFNBACK directory of the Windows 95 CD-ROM.

Windows 95 brought much greater power and usability to the desktop GUI, and also ended competition in the desktop operating system market. While it was technically possible (but not a good idea given the above) to start the Windows 95 kernel and GUI from DR-DOS - and probably PC-DOS too - this did not emerge in court until some years later, by which time the other major players in the DOS market were effectively out of business. In the marketplace, Windows 95 was an unqualified success, and within a year or two of its release had become the most successful operating system ever made.

Windows 95 was released with great fanfare, including a commercial featuring the Rolling Stones song "Start Me Up" (a reference to the Start button)Template:Ref. Microsoft's advertising campaign featured stories of people waiting in line outside stores to get a copy, and there were tales of people without computers buying the software on hype alone, not even knowing what Windows was.

Windows 95 marked the introduction of the "Start" button and taskbar to the mass-market desktop PC (although similar GUI features had been used for some years in desktop computers by Acorn's Arthur and RISC OS operating systems, the market for those systems was extremely restricted). These have remained staple features of all subsequent versions of Windows, and were later copied in other desktop environments.


The following are the major releases of Windows 95:

Release - Version - Released - Internet Explorer - USB Support - FAT32 Support - DMA Support
Windows 95 Retail - 4.00.950Template:Ref - 1995 - none (1.0 in Plus Pack) - no - no - no
Windows 95 Retail SP1 - 4.00.950A - 1995 - none (1.0 in Plus Pack) - no - no - no
OEM Service Release 1 - 4.00.950A - 1995 - 1.0 - no - no - no
OEM Service Release 2 - 4.00.1111 (4.00.950B) - 1996 - 3.0 - no - yes - yes
OEM Service Release 2.1 - 4.03.1212-1214 (4.00.950B) - 1996 - 3.0 - yes - yes - yes
OEM Service Release 2.5 - 4.03.1214 (4.00.950C) - 1997 - 4.0 - yes - yes - yes

Windows 95 has been superseded by Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows Me, Windows 2000, and Windows XP. The Windows NT-based kernel used in Windows 2000 and Windows XP has shown itself to be much more robust and powerful than its predecessor in Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows Me. As a result, those versions of Windows are being phased out. As of December 31, 2002, Microsoft ended its support for Windows 95.


  1. Template:Note Microsoft detractors were quick to point out that the second verse of Start Me Up begins "you make a grown man cry" (a line which is repeated throughout). The phrase subsequently featured as a humorous reference in many critical expositions of Windows 95. It was widely reported the Microsoft paid the Rolling Stones $12 million for the use of the song (from the 1981 album Tattoo You) in the '95 advertising campaign.
  2. Template:Note This version of Windows 95 is sometimes called "950r6" because there were five prior release candidates of build 950. Release candidate 6 was the build that shipped in retail boxes.

External links

History of Microsoft Windows
Windows: 1.0 | 2.0 | 3.x | NT | 95 | 98 | Me | 2000 | XP | Server 2003 | Server 2003 R2 | CE | Mobile | Longhorn | Blackcomb
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