A desktop environment developed by Sun Microsystems and delivered with their SunOS / Solaris operating systems used on Sun workstations from the end of the eighties until today. It replaced Sun's original desktop environment, Suntools.

Originally based on NeWS, Sun's innovative, exciting, but unfortunately proprietary windowing system, OpenWindows was ported to X due to huge popular demand for X by Sun customers. In this incarnation, OpenWindows, like all X-based desktop environments, is based on

a widget set / toolkit to implement a consistent look and feel, in this case OpenLook, on top of X
an interapplication communication mechanism to allow things like drag and drop
(mailtool, imagetool, textedit, etc.)
a couple of basic desktop applications with this look and feel
a window manager written in the toolkit to extend the look and feel to the overall desktop

I doubt that anyone ever liked OpenWindows. It used too much memory and CPU, Open Look looks and feels lousy, the Tooltalk desktop integration service has a designed-in problem with reliability, and some of the bundled applications are offensively bad:

a text editor without a file backup or rescue service of any kind
a mail reader that reads the entire mailbox in main memory and uses a nonstandard form of attachments
the file manager - not only does it leave junk all over the file system, I just clicked the wrong button and saw a separate text editor window open on each of the 253 files in the current directory (binaries included)

(Although a Sun workstation has been my desktop system continuously from 1991 to the present day (2002), I never spent more than 15 minutes with any of these applications, so someone else is probably better qualified to review them.)

On Solaris, OpenWindows got superseded by CDE as the default environment, but it is still distributed for those who want it. Moreover, Sun released the code for xview and a couple of xview apps, so they are now readily available for all Unix variants, such as Linux and FreeBSD.

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