Instead of pushing Linux zealotry, GNU purism, and other operating system bigotry, why not just make factual writeups?

Microsoft Windows 95 is an operating system. It offered a document-centric shift from previous versions of Windows, a new filesystem that offered long filenames without obsoleting 8.3 filename software designs, and self-tuning caches, and offered a first-generation peripheral sensing system called Plug & Play.

The market dominance of Microsoft may be good or bad, but the Plug & Play paradigm gave hardware manufacturers a wake-up call. Stop making the old legacy hardware designs that require jumper settings and unmodifyable BIOS ROMs.

It was mostly for this reason that hardware and software required some level of certification, to show interoperability with Windows 95's newer features. Such certification allowed the ISV or IHV to display the official "Designed for Windows 95" logo.

Released before Microsoft had any strategic focus towards the Internet, the original Windows 95 had security problems with their TCP/IP protocol stack, and with their own file-sharing system designed for more trusting local-area network setups.

For good, or for bad, Microsoft's Windows operating system held a monopoly on the market for personal computers built on the IBM legacy designs. The market grew from under 10 million PCs to over 150 million PCs within three revisions of Windows 3.0, Windows 3.1 and Windows 95. The Apple Macintosh lost some of its dominance in graphic arts to the PC, and to the low-end Silicon Graphics workstation. The NeXT cube, which was critically lauded, was not designed for the mainstream. The OS/2 war between IBM and Microsoft fractured any obvious choice for a robust server platform by either company, even though both OS/2 and Windows NT 3.1 have some good design.

Since Windows 95 was released, the Linux operating system has grown from a mere curiosity to a serious contender in the operating system market. While it still is not reaching mainstream appeal (say, even 5% of the end-user market at the time of this writeup), it has established a server-room foothold (by some accounts, over 40% of web server machines). It is clear that the platform will continue to grow, and drivers will be written to support a lot more "Plug & Play" compliant hardware devices.

Every operating system feature which makes hardware designers focus on useability, interoperability, ease of maintenance, and ease of replacement, helps ALL operating systems from that point on.

For a program to display the "Designed for Windows 95" logo, it must fulfill a set of Microsoft-mandated requirements:

  1. It must not use any 16 bit legacy code.
  2. It must make use of an automated setup and uninstall program.
  3. It must support long filenames with no 8.3 restrictions.
  4. It must adapt to any system changes, such as screen resolution, new devices being added, etc.
  5. Any icons (including toolbar icons) must have large (32x32) and small (16x16) sizes.
  6. It must respond to drag and drop between applications. (This one is only necessary if the program deals with files.)
  7. Any settings should be saved to the Registry rather than .ini files.

Supplementing these requirements, it was strongly recommended that programs make use of context menus, mimic the 3D style of the rest of the interface rather than the flat white one UI of Windows 3.x, use the Common Dialog control, and use a consistent set of menu items and shortcut keys.

Oddly enough, many of Microsoft's own programs did not fulfill all these requirements when Windows 95 came out. Microsoft Office used completely nonstandard dialog boxes and didn't have scaleable toolbar icons, several programs saved their settings to .ini's (including many of the games and applets), Works didn't allow drag-and-drop for a while, many programs used bold fonts as in Windows 3.1, and a few applets didn't deal properly with long filenames. This didn't stop Microsoft from marking its programs with the "Designed for Windows 95" logo, though.

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