Many say Windows turned 30 this year, but it was actually 28 years ago this week that the first commercial version of Microsoft's signature operating system shipped.

The justification for calling it the 30th anniversary is that Windows was announced in 1983 but was in such dismal shape at that point that it took two more years to whip it into a product people might buy.

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Here are 10 behind-the-scenes circumstances from that critical period that Microsoft faced before Windows launched, eventually to become the most popular PC operating system, as related by the product manager who brought the project to fruition.

= Steve Ballmer had to make a tour of press and analysts in 1984 to apologize for Windows not shipping yet.

= The product manager who ultimately shipped Windows, Tandy Trower, thought that since four others had failed to finish the project, the assignment was merely a way to create an excuse so Bill Gates could fire him.

= Microsoft had to scrounge around to find applications that would run on Windows. It finally came up with Notepad, a calculator, Paint, Write and MS-DOS Executive, a program for viewing files and launching other applications.

= The only game available for Windows 1.x was Reversi

= The original system requirements for Windows were a minimum 256K byte RAM, two 5 ¼-inch floppies and a CGA display.

= Steve Ballmer was the development lead for the final push that resulted in the first shipping version of Windows.

= Apple sued Microsoft alleging the look and feel of Windows infringed Apple's visual copyrights. The suit was settled out of court.

= Microsoft resources were stretched thin because it was simultaneously helping IBM develop OS2.

= Ray Ozzie, then working on the development of Lotus Notes, consulted with Microsoft on what tools developers would need to transition from DOS to Windows

= Windows 1.0 gave rise to the best manic Steve Ballmer video ever.  

Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at [email protected] and follow him on [email protected]_Greene.

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