First released in November of 1987, Windows 2.0 was an interesting phase in the evolution of the Windows platform, albeit a mostly unnoticed one. Much like its predecessor, Windows 1.0, Windows 2.0 never gained much market share. It was, however, a moderately large step in the evolution of the Windows platform - or at least its version number.


"To those of us actually forced to use it, Windows 2.0 was known as "Get a Mac" - haze


Windows 2.03

The first incarnation of Windows 2 was Windows 2.03. This version was a massive improvement over Windows 1.0, yet it didn't require much more - MS-DOS version 3.0 or later, a graphics adapter card, at least 512 kilobytes of RAM (twice that of its predecessor), and either two double-sided disk drives or a hard drive. So all it really needed was twice as much RAM and a later version of MS-DOS.

A major upgrade in Windows 2, one that would be immediately noticed by most anyone who had used Windows 1.x, was the long overdue support for overlapping windows. At last! Now I can switch to MS Write to cover up my ASCII porn collection whenever I hear somebody coming! "About" was moved to the File menu from the System Menu, and in addition, Maximize and Minimize buttons were placed in the upper right corner of every window, a feature which remains to this day. The close button, however, still wasn't added until Windows 95, so closing a program would require either going through the system box in the upper left corner, or with good ol' Alt+F4.

Dynamic Data Exchange, or DDE, was another major addition to Windows 2. This allowed programs to share data directly between each other. SMARTDrive software was included to allow for a disk cache (not to be confused with a swap drive). LIM 4.0 was included for much-needed expanded memory support. Several file formats were revised - among them, the font format .fon and the MS Paint file .msp. Utilities were included to convert fonts from the old format to the new format.

There were some minor system changes as well - Printer timeouts and mouse acceleration options were added to thet Control Panel, as well as the ability to toggle that damned warning beep. The Notepad "About" command would report free space remaining, of which there was little. Lastly, the 3812 Pageprinter and old Windows 1.x software were no longer supported. Fortunately, there wasn't much third-party software made for Windows 1.x, so it didn't really matter.

Windows 2.10

Oh, the humanity - Windows 2.10 required a hard drive! (A ten megabyte hard drive was rather expensive back in the '80s.) The reason for this might have been the other new features in 2.10 - the notorious himem.sys, and 386 Enhanced mode, which also appeared in Windows 3.1. These allowed for file swapping capabilities, also known as Virtual RAM. Slow enough on a hard drive; can you imagine swapping off a 320k floppy? Windows 2.10 was also known as Windows/256, we're not sure why.

Windows 2.11

The install program for this version wouldn't crash or abort upon encountering an invalid driver file. The printing speed was increased, and a few system and driver files were updated. That's it. That's all they did. You realize that people probably paid lots of money just to have this slightly higher version number, don't you?

Conclusion

All things considered, Windows 2, while still significant, wasn't a very big technological advance, especially when one considers the jump between Windows 2 and Windows 3, or even more so, the staggering improvement (some would call it that) Windows 95 was over Windows 3. Much like Windows 1.x, this Operating Environment is of amusing historical interest today, but was of little practical worth in its time.


"Haze: To which I'd reply, 'Give me 4,000 dollars.'" - loquacious


Sources:
http://www.powerload.fsnet.co.uk/timeline.htm
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=KB;EN-US;Q32905&LN=EN-GB&SD=gn&FR=0
http://www.toastytech.com/guis/index.html

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