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Chapter 1. Beyond the On Switch… > So What's Behind the Name “Windows”?

So What's Behind the Name “Windows”?

Windows is much more than just a product name. In fact, its introduction represented a new way of computing (that is, it's “new” when you compare it to how things were done in the early years of personal computing). Way back in the old days of personal computing, machines were run by an operating system called DOS. With DOS, you could do only one thing at a time. If you were writing a letter and needed to reference a specific number in a spreadsheet, for example, you would have to shut down the word processing program, open the spreadsheet application to get the information you needed, shut down the spreadsheet program, and finally reopen the word processor to continue drafting your letter—a major hassle to say the least.

After much research and development time, the folks at Microsoft came up with an operating system that allowed users to do two things at once (known as multitasking). That operating system was known as Microsoft Windows because it literally created a separate window for each application or task you had running. That enabled you to easily hop from your word processor to the spreadsheet and back again with a few simple mouse clicks—a major improvement over the cumbersome, text-based DOS.


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