It was on November 20, 1985 that Microsoft started shipping the Windows operating system. This means that Windows turned 23 years old this week, with the Redmond company keeping the celebrations down to a minimum, namely, to a few disparate mentions of the event. On Windows' 23rd birthday, the platform evolved well beyond the desktop, although the Windows client continues to be the heart and soul of Microsoft.
Work continues on the development of Windows Vista's successor, Windows 7, and the operating system has managed to jump a few build numbers from the end of October 2008. At the Professional Developers Conference 2008 in Los Angeles, Microsoft served Windows 7 pre-Beta Build 6801 to participants, while demonstrations already featured Build 6936. However, since that point in time, the company has also evolved past the Windows 7 M3 Build 6936 showcase bits.
Windows 7 pre-Beta 6948 is already being tested, as Microsoft is making its way to the first fully fledged Beta of the operating system. Senior Vice President, Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group, Steven Sinofsky, has already revealed that the Beta version of Windows 7 is planned for the start of 2009. In fact, the pre-Beta M3 bits delivered at PDC 2008 and WinHEC 2008 are time-bombed, and set to expire in August 2009. The expiration date remains in place independent of the slmgr method to prolong the initial grace period of Windows 7 Build 6901, or using valid or leaked product keys to activate the bits, or one of the cracks that have started to circulate.
Twenty three years after Windows was launched, the operating system accounts for in excess of 90% of the operating system market, with Windows Vista, now at Service Pack 1, and with SP2 in the making, owning a share of approximately 20%. Still, Microsoft is focusing beyond the desktop, and an illustrative example in this context is the Windows Azure cloud operating system. Having delivered platforms for mobile devices and for servers, Microsoft is now looking to provide an operating system for the Internet.